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British Industrial History

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William Putnam

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William Putnam (1835-1897) of the Darlington Forge Co

1835 Born at Lambeth

1858 Awarded bronze medal at Carlisle School of Art for a mechanical drawing of a travelling crane.[1]

1860 July 7th. Married at Carlisle to Elizabeth Pearson, second daughter of Thomas Morley.[2]

1861 Living at 12 Lord Street, Botchergate, Carlisle: William Putnam (age 25 born Lambeth), Engineers Clerk. With his wife Elizabeth P. Putnam (age 24 born Carlisle).[3]

1862 Became manager of the Darlington Forge

1866 William Putnam, engineer and managing partner of the Darlington Forge, Darlington.[4]

1871 Living at Houghton-le-Skerne: William Putnam (age 35 born Lambeth), Forged Iron Manufacturer Master employing 161 men and 24 boys. With his wife Elizabeth Pearson Putnam (age 34 born Carlisle) and their children Thomas Putnam (age 8 born Darlington); William Putnam (age 7 born Darlington); Mary Putnam (age 5 born Darlington); Isabella Putnam (age 4 born Houghton-le-Skerne); and Florence Putnam (age 1 born Houghton-le-Skerne). One servant.[5]

1873 Became managing director of Darlington Forge

1881 Living at Thornlea, Darlington: William Putnam (age 45 born Lambeth), J.P. Forged Iron Manufacturer and Iron Plate Maker Employ 944 Men and 41 Boys. With his wife Elizabeth P. Putnam (age 44 born Carlisle) and their children Thomas Putnam (age 18 born Darlington), Analytical Chemistry Student; William Putnam (age 17 born Darlington), Clerk in Iron Works; Arthur Putnam (age 9 born Houghton-le-Skerne); Mabel Putnam (age 8 born Houghton-le-Skerne); Walter Putnam (age 6 born Darlington); Ernest Putnam (age 5 born Darlington); and Bertha Putnam (age 3 born Darlington). Three servants.[6]

1897 Died


1897 Obituary [7]

WILLIAM PUTNAM was born in London on 17th December 1835.

At an early age he went north, and since then had been closely identified with engineering operations on the north-east coast. He served his time in the works of the old Stockton and Darlington Railway at Shildon; after which he went to Carlisle to join the firm of Messrs. Cowans, Sheldon, and Co.

About 1862 he went to Darlington to manage the Darlington Forge, employing at that time 50 or 60 men; these works have so increased as to give employment now to over 800 men.

In 1873 he was appointed managing director. On his first taking charge of the Forge, it was principally engaged upon railway work; but owing to the increase in the number of ships built of iron and steel, he added heavy machinery for meeting the growing requirements of marine engineering and shipbuilding. The works were thereby enabled to turn out crank-shafts, tail-shafts, stern frames, rudders, keels, propellers, and other work for the largest and heaviest ships of the British and other navies, and for the Cunard, Peninsular and Oriental, and other lines, as well as forgings and castings up to 50 tons for engine works and collieries.

His interest in local matters led to his being for a time a member of the Darlington Town Council.

His death took place suddenly at Bournemouth from syncope on 1st May 1897, at the age of sixty-one.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1866; and was also an original Member of the Iron and Steel Institute.


1897 Obituary [8]

WILLIAM PUTNAM, of Darlington, died at Bournemouth on May 1, 1897, at the age of sixty-two years. He was for many years the managing Director of the Darlington Forge Company.

Up to about the year 1868 he was employed by Messrs Cowans, Sheldon & Co. of Carlisle, and it was in conjunction with that firm that he built the Darlington Forge Works, which are amongst the best known and best equipped in the, country. These works he managed with signal success up to the time of his death, and it was largely owing to his great ability in conceiving and adopting new processes and appliances for the manufacture of heavy castings that the Darlington Forge Company held the high reputation which it enjoyed.

Mr. Putnam was an original member of the Iron and Steel Institute, and took an active part in organising the meeting of the Institute held at Darlington in 1893.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Carlisle Journal - Friday 11 June 1858
  2. Carlisle Journal - Friday 13 July 1860
  3. 1861 Census
  4. 1866 Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  5. 1871 Census
  6. 1881 Census
  7. 1897 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  8. 1897 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries