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William Richardson

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William Richardson (1811-1892) of Oldham, of Platt Brothers and Co

Father of George Richardson (1845-1883)

1859 William Richardson, Hartford Iron Works, Oldham.[1]

Died 1892 aged 81.[2]


1892 Obituary [3]

WILLIAM RICHARDSON was born at Horbury, near Wakefield, on 11th August 1811; and in the following year his parents went to reside at Cooper Bridge, near Huddersfield, his father having obtained an appointment with the Calder and Hebble Navigation Company.

At an early age he was sent to the village school, and remained there until he was eight years old, when he was set to work to assist in the domestic hand-loom weaving industry.

When eleven years old he was sent to the cotton mill of Mr. Thomas Haigh, Colne Bridge, where suitable employment in connection with the various machines used for the preparing and spinning of cotton was found for him until 1823, when, having been bound apprentice, he entered the mechanics' shop connected with the mill, and remained there until 1833. During this period he diligently applied himself to remedy the defects of his scanty education, and to make himself practically acquainted with every machine in the mill, as well as with the water-wheel and its connections, by which the machinery of the mill was driven.

On leaving Cooper Bridge, he removed to Marsden, and entered the service of Messrs. Taylor Brothers, engineers and boiler makers.

In 1834 he entered the service of Messrs. Hibbert and Platt, Hartford Works, Oldham, makers of textile machines.

In 1837, trade in Oldham being slack, he went to London, in order to gain further experience and knowledge, and succeeded in obtaining employment with Messrs. Beal and Henderbury, East Greenwich, where he learned the use of gauges and templates, and obtained an insight into the principle of interchangeability and accurate workmanship, which he never afterwards forgot.

After working there about six months, he returned to Oldham to Messrs. Hibbert and Platt, who in the meantime had become busy. Here he applied himself with such diligence and success to the re-modelling of the scutcher department, that his employers advanced him to a leading position in the management of the business. From this time his career becomes part of the history of Hartford Works.

The building of the Hartford New Works, Werneth, and the consequent transfer of several important departments, left him free to devote himself to the remainder of the business carried on at the old works, with which he had been more particularly connected.

After the building of the new works, the still further growth of the business led to the establishment of what may be called the outside branches, such as the forge for the manufacture of wrought-iron, the brick works for the manufacture of dry-clay bricks (Proceedings 1859, page 42), and the collieries and coke ovens. With all of these he was specially associated, taking a leading part in their establishment and development; and on all these additions to the business he has left the impress of his judgment and ability.

Although he was a prolific inventor, it was more in the character of constructor and organizer that his strength lay. A skilful handicraftsman, capable of enduring the most exhausting fatigue, well informed on all matters connected with his business, possessed of sound judgment, indomitable resolution, perseverance, and love of his calling, in cases of difficulty he was full of resources and a tower of strength.

He took great interest in the progress of his adopted town, of which he was a borough magistrate and for a time a town councillor, promoting its educational interests, especially in the direction of technical education, having been President both of the Oldham Lyceum and of the Oldham School of Science and Art; to the Oldham Infirmary he was a generous benefactor. He became a Member of this Institution in 1859, and was a Member of Council from 1877 to 1884.

He was a member of the Iron and Steel Institute from its foundation in 1869; and was also a member of other scientific and technical institutions.

In 1854 he was admitted into the partnership of Messrs. Platt Brothers and Co.; and when in 1868 the business was transformed into a limited company, he became vice-chairman, and had the satisfaction of seeing his elder son a director at the same board as himself.

He continued to hold the position of vice-chairman to the time of his death, which took place at his residence, Werneth, Oldham, on 16th December 1892, at the age of eighty-one.


1892 Obituary [4]

WILLIAM RICHARDSON was born at Horbury, near Wakefield, on the 11th of August 1811, and, in the year following, his parents went to reside at Cooper Bridge, near Huddersfield, his father having obtained an appointment under the Calder and Hebble Navigation Company. Born with a strong and vigorous constitution, the son, at an early age, was sent to the village school, where he remained until he was eight years old, when he was set to work to assist in the domestic hand loom weaving industry. When eleven years of age, he entered the cotton mill of Mr. Thomas Haigh, Colne Bridge, where he found suitable employment in connection wills the various machines used for the preparing and spinning of cotton. In 1823 he was bound apprentice, entering the mechanic's shop connected with the mill, and he remained there until 1833, having during this period diligently applied himself to remedy the defects of his scanty education, and to make himself practically acquainted with every machine in the mill, as well as with the water-wheel and its connections, by which the machinery of the mill was driven. On leaving Cooper Bridge, the young man removed to Marsden, and entered the service of Messrs. Taylor Brothers, engineers and boilermakers.

In 1834 he entered the service of Messrs. Hibbert & Platt at the Hartford Works, Oldham, who had already acquired an excellent reputation as textile machine makers. In 1837, desiring to gain further experience and knowledge, and trade in Oldham being slack, William Richardson left that town for London, and succeeded in obtaining employment with Messrs. Beal & Henderbury, East Greenwich, where he learned the use of gauges and templets, and obtained an insight into the principles of interchangeability and accurate workmanship, which he never afterwards forgot. After working in London about six months, he returned to the Hartford Works, where he applied himself with such diligence and success to the remodelling of the scutcher department that his employers advanced him to a leading position in the management of the business. From this time the career of Mr. Richardson becomes part of the history of Hartford Works. After the building of Hartford New Works, the growth of the business led to the establishment of various outside branches—such as the forge for the manufacture of wrought iron, the brick-works for the manufacture of patent bricks, and the collieries and coke ovens. With all of these Mr. Richardson was specially associated, taking a leading part in their installation and development, and on all of them he has left the impress of his judgment and ability.

Although the records of the Patent Office show that Mr. Richardson was a prolific inventor, it was more in the character of constructor and organizer that his strength lay. A skilful handicraftsman, capable of enduring the most exhausting fatigue, well informed on all matters connected with his business, and possessed of sound judgment, indomitable resolution, perseverance, and the love of his calling, he was, in cases of difficulty, full of resource, and a tower of strength.

Mr. Richardson took great interest in the progress of his adopted town, of which he was a borough magistrate, and, for a time, a town councillor, promoting its educational interests, especially in the direction of technical education, as President both of the Oldham Lyceum and of the Oldham Science and Art School. He was a generous benefactor to the Oldham Infirmary. He was a member of the Iron and Steel Institute from its foundation in 1869, and for a number of years acted as a member of Council. Mr. Richardson was a member of other scientific and technical Institutions, including the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

The business of Hartford Works was, in 1837, changed from the style of Hibbert & Platt to that of Hibbert, Platt & Sons. In 1854, Messrs. John and James Platt, having become sole proprietors of the business, decided, in consequence of its growth, to enlarge the partnership by admitting the chief heads of departments, viz., Mr. William Richardson, Mr. William Frederick Palmer, and Mr. Edmund Hartley, the style of the firm becoming Platt Brothers & Co. In 1868, the business was transformed into a limited liability company, Mr. Richardson becoming Vice-Chairman, and having the satisfaction of seeing his elder son, George, taking his place as a director at the same Board as himself. Mr. Richardson continued to hold the position of Vice-Chairman until the time of his death. At the age of twenty-nine he married Mary, the eldest daughter of Mr. John Gartside, woollen manufacturer, Cherry Clough, Saddleworth. His death took place at his residence, Werneth, Oldham, on the 16th December 1892, at the age of eighty-one.


1892 Obituary [5]



1893 Obituary[6]

"THE LATE MR. WILLIAM RICHARDSON. In our issue of December 23 last we briefly an nounced the death of Mr. William Richardson, J.P., of the firm of Messrs. Platt Brothers and Co., Limited, Oldham, and some details as to his career may be of interest. The deceased gentleman was born at Horbury, near Wakefield, on August 11, 1811, and, in accordance with the usual practice at that date amongst the working classes, went to work at the early age of eight years, previous to which he had been for some time at the village school. He was apprenticed to millwright work when 11 years old, entering the mechanics’ shop attached to the cotton mill of Mr. Thomas Haigh, Colne Bridge. During his apprenticeship he tried diligently to remedy the defects of his scanty education. In 1834 he entered the service of Messrs. Hibbert and Platt, Hartford Works, Oldham, then a rising firm, engaged in making textile machinery. Three years later, during a temporary depression of

trade, he went to London, and obtained employment with Messrs. Beal and Henderbury, East Greenwich, where he learnt the use of gauges and templets, and the importance of the principle of interchangeability of parts. Only six months were spent here, however, as, business in Oldham improving, he went back to Messrs. Platt and Hibbert, with which firm he has ever since been identified. His services proved so valuable that he was advanced to a leading position in the management of the works. As years went on the undertakings of the firm were greatly extended, the additions including a forge department, brickworks, collieries, and coke ovens, with all of which Mr. Richardson was closely identified. Mr. Richardson was a prolific inventor, but shone still more as an organiser and constructor. He took much interest in the progress of his adopted town, of which he was a borough magistrate, and also for a time town councillor ; he contributed largely to local charities. He became a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1859, and was also a member of the Iron and Steel Institute from its commencement in 1869. He was made a partner in the firm of Messrs. Platt Brothers and Co. in 1854, and in 1868 the firm was turned into a limited liability company, Mr. Richard-son becoming vice-chairman, his eldest son, George, being also a director. He occupied the same position in the company up to his death, which took place at the age of 81. He married, when 29 years old, Mary, the eldest daughter of Mr. John Gartside, the woollen manufacturer, addle worth."


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