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British Industrial History

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William Losh

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1816. The patent locomotive of George Stephenson and William Losh.

1770/1 Born the son of John Losh

1791 Lived in Paris, where he learnt some chemistry; soon after his return home he formed a company to manufacture soda at Walker. The original partners were Dundas and Dundonald, Messrs. Aubany and John Surtees, and John and William Losh.

1797 the Losh family inherited a share in a coalmine on the Tyne at Walker in which a brine spring had been discovered. This provided a private source of salt for making soda. They avoided the duty on salt by evaporating the brine together with sulphuric acid, thus forming sulphate of soda[1]

1798 Married at Gateshead to Alice Wilkinson

Having travelled to Sweden and investigated the steel making there, he established slitting mills at Newcastle around 1800 where Swedish bar iron was used to make nail rods.[2]

He took charge of the Walker Alkali Works on behalf of his brother, John

1809 Recognising the increasing interest in iron, he established ironworks at Walker involving his senior staff, Thomas Wilson and Thomas Bell.

1816 Patent with George Stephenson regarding steam engines with 'floating pistons'.

William Losh with George Stephenson at Walker Ironworks were regarded as makers of the best cast iron rail product (according to William Henry James's letter).

1816 After the end of hostilities, Mr. Losh returned to Paris, where he learned the details of the process for decomposing sulphate of soda, which he immediately introduced to his works at Walker, and thus may be said to have been the father of the British alkali industry.

The Walker works were the first in England to work the Leblanc process but the original partnership soon dissolved and the Losh brothers, trading as Walker Alkali Works, were able to develop a profitable chemical business without Dundonald.

Some improvements in the construction of wheels for railway carriages were patented on the 31st of August, 1830, by William Losh, of Bentom House, in Northumberland

1861 Died in Ellison Place, Newcastle-upon-Tyne

1821 Agreement with George Stephenson and the Jameses[3]

Copy of the original agreement in respect to locomotive engines between William Losh, George Stephenson, Willam James and William Henry James.- Dated September lst, 1821.

"Know all men by these presents, that we, William Losh, of the town and county of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, ironfounder and George Stephenson, of Killingworth, in the county of Northumberland, engineer, in consideration of five pounds of lawful money to us paid, at or before the sealing and delivery of these presents, and in consideration of William James, Esq., of Westbromwich, in the county of Stafford, miner and engineer, giving his recommendation and best assistance for the using and employing of locomotive engines, for which we, William Losh and George Stephenson have obtained two letters patent, on such terms we shall by writing direct and appoint. We, the said Losh and Stephenson have granted and assigned, and by these presents do grant and assign, unto the said William James, his heirs, administrators, and assigns, one-fourth part or share of our rights and patents in the exclusive use of the locomotive engine for working on railroads secured to us by certain Acts of letters patent of his late Majesty, and of the profits arising from the granting the use thereof to any other party or persons whomsoever, such fourth part or share of the use, right, interest and profits to be confined to engines made, used, and sold in that part of England and Wales lying south of a line drawn from the town of Liverpool to the town of Hull: To have and to hold such fourth part or share of the said patent right and profits from the date hereof, unto the said William James, during the term of the said letters patent.

" Given under our hands and seals this 1st day of September, 1821. " WILLIAM LOSH, " GEORGE STEPHENSON.

" And in consideration of such grant of one-fourth share in their patent William James agrees to allow the said William Losh and George Stephenson to adopt any improvements and the introduction of tubes to their boilers, as contained in the letters patent of William Henry James, son of the said William James, as granted to him in the reign of his present Majesty. '

.. Signed, " WILLIAM HENRY JAMES, " WILLIAM JAMES." Dated 1st September, 1821."

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1863/09/25
  2. Worthies of Cumberland by Henry Lonsdale 1873
  3. The Engineer 1867/03/08