Joseph William Wilson
Joseph William Wilson (1829-1898).
Founder and Principal of School of Practical Engineering, Crystal Palace, Sydenham, London, S.E.
1829 Born in Walthamstow
1851 Joseph Wilson 21, civil engineer, living in Over Worton, with William Wilson 59, curate of Deddington, Mary Wilson 56, Agnes Wilson 24, Harriet Ann Wilson 20, Agnes Frances Wilson 6, Charles Wilson 3, Mary Wilson 2, S Henry Cox 26, Fanny Mary Cox 19
1852 of Oxford Engine Works, Oldbury
By 1866 of 9 Buckingham Street, Strand, London, W.C.
1869 Elected to the Inst of Civil Engineers
1871 Living in Wandsworth with his wife Harriet and 11 children.
1872 Founded Crystal Palace School of Engineering
Died 1898 aged 69.
1898 Obituary 
JOSEPH WILLIAM WILSON, one of the younger children of the Rev. William Wilson, D.D., vicar of Walthamstow in Essex, was born there on 11th October 1829.
Being intended for the church he was entered at Wadham College, Oxford; but preferring to become an engineer, he was sent as a pupil to his cousin, Mr. Charles Fox, of Messrs. Fox and Henderson, London Works, Birmingham, who were the constructors of the Great Exhibition building in 1851, in connection with which Mr. Fox received the honour of knighthood. At the close of his pupilage, he was employed as one of the assistant engineers upon the building, having under his charge the various machinery and appliances employed in the preparation of the then unprecedented quantity of timber required for the structure; in this work he introduced various improvements, which were brought under the notice of the Queen on her visit of inspection.
In 1852, in partnership with his brother-in-law, Mr. Samuel H. F. Cox, he erected the Oxford Engineering Works at Oldbury near Birmingham, where the firm of Messrs. Cox and Wilson manufactured various kinds of engines and pumping machinery, and also mining appliances for the goldfields of California and elsewhere; a small portable single- acting steam-engine of their make was described to the Institution in 1853 (Proceedings, page 69), having a simple governor of his invention.
Owing to his health failing, the Oldbury works were given up; and in 1855 he went as consulting engineer to the Timber Works at Banbury, where he introduced the circular gouge and disc paring tools, of which he gave a description to the Institution in 1857 (Proceedings, page 77); for these he received a medal from the Society of Arts.
In 1857 he established himself in London as a consulting engineer; and later, assisted by his eldest son, he carried out various water, pier, and other works, at Bognor, Hampton, Starcross, Hunstanton, Teignmouth, Isle of Wight, High Wycombe, Westward Ho, and other places.
For training his pupils in the practice as well as the theory of mechanical engineering, he had small pattern and fitting shops attached to his offices; and in 1872, with a view to further developing this plan, he induced the directors of the Crystal Palace, Sydenham, to start their School of Practical Engineering, being supported in this object by their then secretary, Mr. (now Sir George) Grove, who had himself enjoyed the advantage of an engineering training. Here, assisted by his son, he provided the students with a personal training in the combined practice and theory of the first period of their engineering career, with the result that many of them attained to leading positions in various parts of the world.
After nearly twenty-six years thus spent as principal of the Crystal Palace School, he was taken ill in Scotland in August 1898, and died at his residence at Henley, Surrey, on 5th November 1898, in the seventieth year of his age.
He was a Member of this Institution from 1852 to 1868, and again from 1879; and was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and a Fellow of the Royal Colonial Institute.
1899 Obituary 
JOSEPH WILLIAM WILSON, son of the Rev. William Wilson, D.D., Vicar of Walthamstow, Essex, and later Vicar of Over Worton, Oxfordshire, was born on the 11th October, 1829. He was originally destined for the Church, and was entered with that intention at Wadham College, Oxford.
However, as a lad, he had evinced a strong inclination towards engineering, and his father was persuaded to place him as a pupil under his cousin, Mr. (afterwards Sir) Charles Fox, of the firm of Fox and Henderson, Birmingham. At the expiration of his pupilage Mr. Wilson acted for them as an Assistant Engineer on the construction of the Exhibition Building of 1851, having charge of the machinery employed in the preparation of the large quantity of timber required for the structure. He introduced several important improvements in those machines.
After this, Mr. Wilson, in partnership with his brother-in-law, S. H. F. Cox, erected and opened at Birmingham the Oldbury Engineering Works, where from 300 to 400 men were employed in turning out important pumping and other engines and machinery, including large quantities of stamps and other apparatus for use in the Californian gold-fields. After a few years his health temporarily gave way, and he retired from the Oldbury Works and established himself at Banbury, where, as consulting engineer to the timber works there, he had further scope for the exercise of his inventive genius, and in 1855 he patented the well-known circular gouge and disk-paring tools for timber machinery, for which he received, from the hands of the Prince Consort, the Medal of the Society of Arts. . . . [more]
1898 Obituary 
Sources of Information
- 1851 census
- Civil Engineers Lists 1818-1930
- The Engineer 1898/11/11, p475.
- 1898 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
- 1899 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
- The Engineer 1898/11/25, p524.