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British Industrial History

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William Samuel Laycock

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June 1888. W. S. Laycock's railway wagon brake.

William Samuel Laycock (1842-1916) of W. S. Laycock and Cravens Ltd

1861 Living at The Grange, Upper Hallam, Sheffield: William E. Laycock (age 45 born Sheffield), Hair Seating manufacturer. With his wife Jane C. Laycock (age 40 born Sheffield) and their nine children; William S. Laycock (age 18 born Sheffield), Hair Seating manufacturer; Mary D. C. Laycock (age 16 born Sheffield); Clara J. Laycock (age 14 born Sheffield); Edward R. Laycock (age 11 born Sheffield); Lillah M. Laycock (age 9 born Sheffield); John A. Laycock (age 7 born Sheffield); Charles A. Laycock (age 6 born Shunperlowe, Yorks); Florence Laycock (age 3 born Shunperlowe, Yorks); and Amy B. Laycock (age 1 born Shunperlowe, Yorks). Also his cousin Charles D. Pettinger (age 21 born Louth), Manufacturer's Clerk. Four servants.[1]

1870 Visited the USA for the first time and frequently thereafter, enabling Laycock to understand how industry was developing in that country and to recognise changes necessary in the following years for British Industry to supply that market[2]


1916 Obituary [3]

WILLIAM SAMUEL LAYCOCK was born in Sheffield on 20th October 1842, being the eldest son of W. E. Laycock, a member of the firm of Samuel Laycock and Sons, hair-seating manufacturers, of Sheffield.

In due course he entered the family business, which brought him into touch with railway companies and railway-carriage builders, and being of a mechanical turn of mind, he invented several simple and ingenious devices for which he thought there should be a large sale amongst railway companies.

In 1884 he decided to start on his own account as a manufacturer of railway specialities. His first works were in Victoria Street, Sheffield, and, after several enlargements, works were opened in 1902 at Millhouses, adjoining the Midland Railway.

Quick to see the commercial possibilities in any mechanical invention, he manufactured a large number of devices such as railway carriage blinds, ventilators, window lifts, automatic couplers and vestibules, steam-heating apparatus and numerous specialities connected with the fitting and upholstering of railway carriages, and his firm have been closely associated with the fitting up of the new types of Pullman cars on various lines during recent years.

In 1910 he became chairman of Cravens, Ltd., rolling-stock builders, of Darnall, Sheffield, and re-equipped the works with modern machine-tools, so that they were able to undertake the building of Pullman cars and other types of high-class passenger rolling-stock for British and foreign railways, in addition to wagons, which had been their chief manufacture.

Among his earliest successes were the pull-down railway carriage blinds with a self-balancing roller, and the "torpedo" railway carriage ventilator. He introduced into this country a storage system of steam-heating for railway carriages, and brought out the "Morton" and several other types of wagon brakes.

On his return from a visit to the United States he devised an arrangement by which the M. C. B. American type of coupler could be combined with the English standard draw-bar hook, so that carriages could be coupled either automatically or with screw-coupling as required.

His death took place at his residence in Sheffield on 2nd March 1916, in his seventy-fourth year.

He was elected a Member of this Institution in 1883.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1861 census
  2. The Times, Jun 01, 1900
  3. 1916 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries