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William Prime Marshall

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William Prime Marshall (1816-1906).

William Prime Marshall (1816-1906)

Secretary of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


1906 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM PRIME MARSHALL was born at St. Albans on 28th February 1818.

He received an excellent home education from his father, which was supplemented later by the lectures of Professor Edward Cowper in the engineering department of King's College, London.

He entered Mr. Robert Stephenson's office on the London and Birmingham Railway in 1835 during the construction of the line, and on completion of the railway was transferred to his Westminster office. Under Mr. Stephenson's directions he made a series of experiments on rope traction upon the Euston incline, and assisted in a set of experiments on the deflection of rails made upon the Great Western _Railway.

In 1839 he was engaged under Mr. Stephenson upon the plans for the North Midland Railway stations, and afterwards had charge of the construction of those stations, in conjunction with the architect, Mr. Francis Thompson. At the opening of that railway he was appointed locomotive superintendent of the line, and held this office until the amalgamation in 1843 with the present Midland Railway.

In 1844 he carried out, in conjunction with the late Mr. George Berkley, a series of experiments upon the Dublin and Kingston Atmospheric Railway for Mr. Stephenson's report to the Chester and Holyhead Railway Co., and subsequently they carried out, also under Mr. Stephenson, the alteration of the gauge of the Eastern Counties Railway from 5 feet to 4 feet 8.5 inches, for the purpose of effecting a continuous connection with the other railways of the country.

In 1845 he was engaged upon the plans for the stations on the Norfolk Railway, under Mr. Stephenson, and, on the opening of that line, was appointed resident engineer and locomotive superintendent, continuing in that position until the amalgamation with the Great Eastern Railway in 1848.

He joined this Institution as a Member in October 1847, the year of its formation, and on 24th January 1849 he was elected Secretary under the presidency of Mr. Robert Stephenson. This position he held for twenty-nine years, until the removal of the Institution to London, his energetic and active management greatly contributing to its success. During this period he presented two Papers to the Proceedings, namely, "On Berdan's Crushing and Amalgamating Machine," and "On the principal constructions of Breech-Loading Mechanism for Small Arms, and their relative mechanical advantages."

He was joint honorary secretary with the late Mr. George Shaw of the Birmingham Industrial Exhibition, held in connection with the meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science in 1849, and he also took charge of the Birmingham exhibit in the International Exhibition of 1851.

In the following year he was joint secretary, with the late Mr. W. Matthews, of the committee which originated and carried out the formation of the Birmingham and Midland Institute.

In conjunction with the late Mr. Edward Woods, he carried out in 1853 an important investigation into the locomotive working of the London and North Western Railway, with an extensive series of trials of different locomotives.

He acted in 1854, and subsequently in partnership with his son, Mr. W. Bayley Marshall, as Inspecting Engineer to the Crown Agents for the Colonies, in the inspection of locomotives and carriages for many colonial railways. In consequence of great alterations made in the Crown Agents' Office, this arrangement was determined in 1904.

Among local societies with which he was identified was the Birmingham Natural History Society, of which he was joint honorary secretary from 1887.

In 1863 he was awarded the silver medal of the Society of Arts for a Paper on "Automatic Brakes," and in 1896 he received the George Stephenson Medal and a Telford Premium awarded by the Institution of Civil Engineers for a Paper on "The Evolution of the Locomotive."

His death took place at his residence at Edgbaston, Birmingham, on 27th March 1906, at the age of eighty-eight.


1907 Obituary [2]

WILLIAM PRIME MARSHALL, who died at Edgbaston on the 27th March, 1906, at the advanced age of 89, was the only son of the Rev. William Marshall, of St. Albans. Born in 1816, the subject of this notice received an excellent education from his father, supplemented by attendance at King’s College, London, and entered the office of Robert Stephenson in 1835, where he was employed on the working drawings for the London and Birmingham Railway.

In 1839 he carried out for Mr. Stephenson the design and construction of stations on the North Midland Railway, and on the opening of that line, he was appointed locomotive superintendent, which office he held until the amalgamation of the line in 1843 with the present Midland Railway.

In the following year, he carried out, in conjunction with the late Sir George (then Mr.) Berkley, a series of experiments in connection with the Dublin and Kingstown atmospheric railway, and subsequently, the alteration of the gauge of the Eastern Counties Railway.

Later, on the recommendation of Mr. Stephenson, Mr. Marshall was appointed locomotive engineer of the Norfolk Railway.

In 1848 Mr. Marshall engaged in consulting practice at Birmingham. In the following year, on the nomination of Mr. Robert Stephenson, he was appointed Secretary of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and held this office until the removal of the society to London, a period of 29 years, at the same time carrying on private practice. During this period, he was engaged on various special investigations and reports; amongst others, for the London and North Western Railway, on the working of locomotives between London and Rugby, and for the East Indian and Madras Railways, on the manufacture of springs for the rolling stock of those railways. He also undertook inspection of materials for the same companies at the principal engineering works in the provinces, and this work led to his being extensively employed in a similar capacity by the Crown agents for the Colonies.

After his retirement from the secretaryship of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1877, Mr. Marshall continued his inspection and other work in partnership with his son, W. Bayley Marshall, until 1904.

Mr. Marshall was a member of various local societies at Birmingham, and he also took part in the formation of the Birmingham and Midland Institute. In 1898 he contributed to the Proceedings of The Institution a Paper on ‘The Evolution of the Locomotive Engine,' for which he was awarded the George Stephenson medal and a Telford premium.

Mr. Marshal1 was elected an Associate of The Institution on the 3rd June, 1845, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 10th April, 1866.


1906 Obituary [3]



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