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& Inventors of Greater Manchester


Duke of Bridgewater

Francis Egerton, the Canal Duke


Francis Egerton came to be known as “the Canal Duke”, and he
is celebrated most for his works in developing the inland waterways
navigations into Manchester, and in particular his commissioning
the building of the
. A rather dull and unpromising young man, tending
towards being sickly, it had been planned to omit him from the
family succession, and had it not been for the premature death
of his elder brother, he may never have been Duke at all. Having
travelled Europe at the age of 17, he had made a good collection
of classical artefacts and treasures, and they were to form
the basis of the valuable Bridgewater Collection.
the age of 23, Egerton left London to live in the Old Hall at
Worsley, where he was to develop the coal mines on his estate,
and which, due to the onset of the Industrial Revolution, and
the need of coal to produce steam power, proved to be his most
valuable assets. He realised that it would far cheaper if the
coal could be shipped by water to Manchester, rather than having
to be hauled overland on badly made muddy roadways, or left
to the vagaries of the River Irwell. In this connection, he
took advice from the engineers John Gilbert and James Brindley
(see below), who suggested the possibility of constructing an
artificial waterway to Manchester, one which could run independently
of the River Irwell.
was to become the supreme canal engineer, though this canal
was surveyed and constructed largely to Gilbert’s plans. The
massive undertaking would involve the building of an aqueduct
over the River Irwell at Barton. The concept was widely ridiculed,
but in 1751, Britain’s first man-made canal was completed, running
from the coal mines at Worsley into Castlefield
in Manchester. It was to earn Egerton a fortune and guarantee
his place in engineering history. Later, Egerton extended the
canal in the other direction, towards Liverpool, covering difficult
marshy terrain.
Manchester-Liverpool Canal took 10 years to build, from 1762
to 1772, and was to use up most of Egerton’s money. Having spent
�220,000 on constructing canals, they earned him only �80,000
a year, and the return on his capital outlay was hard to recoup.
Both Liverpool and Manchester benefited, however, from the increased
trade which Egerton’s canal brought. Other local towns were
to later build their own canals to join up with Egerton’s –
Rochdale, Leigh, Bolton and Stockport – all had link canal branches.
fresco in the Manchester
Town Hall
, by Ford Madox Brown,
depicts the opening of the Bridgewater Canal.

Frederick Henry Royce

Henry Royce

Sir Frederick
Henry Royce, inventor of the Rolls-Royce motor car, was born
in Alwalton near Peterborough, though he has an indelible association
with Manchester. It was here, in Hulme that he set up his first
workshop and produced the first Rolls Royce.
to the premature death of his father while Royce was still relatively
young, he had to give up his education to seek employment. From
the earliest, he displayed a keen interest in engineering, and
worked for a time at the Great Northern Locomotive Works, where
he gained invaluable engineering experience, before going on
to work in Liverpool, Leeds and London. By the age of 21 he
was able to set up in his own business.
firm, F.H. Royce & Co, was established in Cooke Street, Hulme,
and he had started it with a capital sum of no more than �70.
Here he began manufacturing arc lamps and dynamos to a high
standard, and his business flourished. It was only the introduction
of cheaper competitive goods from America and Germany which
forced him to change his production line, and to move into the
development of motor cars, a subject which had always interested
him. Beginning
with a 10 horse power 1903 Decauville which he had purchased,
he experimented into the possibility of producing a better,
silent-running and reliable engine. In 1903 he produced his
first 2 cylinder engine.

Charles Rolls
Charles Rolls

This was only a modest beginning, but building
on his engineering expertise, he completed his first Rolls Royce
motor car by the end of March 1904. During that year he met Charles
Stewart Rolls, an able businessman, entrepreneur and marketeer
– it was to be he who would handle the business and financial
side of what became a world famous team, and the new marque of
“Rolls-Royce” had come into being. He agreed to buy all the cars
which Royce could produce in his Hulme factory, and to sell them
under the Rolls-Royce name. Their 2 companies merged in 1906.
Rolls was from an aristocratic background, Eton and Cambridge
educated, but he had a degree in mechanics and applied science,
and was quick to see the potential of Royce’s cars. He was also
a daring motorist and aviator. Royce went on to develop the 50
hp “Silver Ghost”, which remained in production until 1925, to
be followed by the “Phantom” and the “Wraith”. In 1911, Rolls
was killed in a flying accident; money worries and overwork led
to Royce’s deteriorating health. Even so, he continued to work
on a new engine designed for an aeroplane – by 1915, the “Eagle”
aero-engine was ready, and would be used throughout the First
World War.
A generation later, during the Second World War, Royce’s engines
were still at the forefront of aero aviation, with the distinctive
12 cylinder V engines which he designed being used in most British
combat aircraft of the war. Aeroplanes using his racing engines
also won the Schneider Cup Trophy in 1929 and 1930. In 1918 Royce
was awarded an OBE, and he was knighted in 1930. He died 3 years
later. A plaque marking the location of his Cooke Street Workshop
can be found today in Charles Barry Crescent in Hulme.


Daniel Adamson

Daniel Adamson was the main motivating force behind the building
of the Manchester
Ship Canal
. Born in County Durham, he had studied engineering
at the famous Stockton & Darlington Railway Company. In 1850,
he came to Manchester to take up the post of manager at the
Heaton Foundry in Stockport.
By 1857 he had formed his own company and was manufacturing
steel boilers and heavy machinery for engineering, and due to
its rapid and successful growth by 1871 he was able to open
a new premises in Dukinfield, where he patented several boiler
designs, and became part-owner of the Penistone Iron & Steel
The idea for a man-made canal which would join the city of Manchester
to the sea, thereby bypassing the port of Liverpool and bringing
trade and raw materials directly into Manchester, was originally
proposed by the engineer Hamilton Fulton, but it was Adamson’s
support and backing which made the concept a feasible prospect.
On the 27th of June 1882, Adamson convened a meeting at his
home, The Towers in Didsbury, to which he had invited 76 of
the most influential and wealthy men of the region, when a proposal
was put and met with general enthusiasm. A committee was formed
with Adamson as their chairman.
It took several attempts to get the necessary Bill through parliament,
but in 1885 they succeeded and work began in 1887. Adamson was
never to see its completion, as he died before the Ship Canal
was completed in 1893. The canal was officially opened by Her
Majesty Queen Victoria on the 1st of January 1894.


George Bradshaw

George Bradshaw is best remembered by train spotters and railway
enthusiasts for his famous Railway Guides. Born at Windsor Bridge,
Pendleton, he was apprenticed, on leaving school, to the engraver,
Beale, author of “The Art of Penmanship Improved”. His family
having moved to Belfast in Northern Ireland in 1820, Bradshaw
attempted to establish his own engraving business there, but
the it failed, and he returned back to Manchester in 1821, to
set up an engraving stall in the market place. He
specialised for a time in engraved maps – his first being one
of Lancashire, and the success of a subsequent map of the Lancashire
and Yorkshire inland waterways led to him embarking on a whole
series on inland navigations.
In 1863 he published his ambitious map of the Railways of Great
Britain. Next he produced his now famous “Bradshaw’s Railway
Timetables” which sold for sixpence (2.5p) a copy. Later changed
to “Bradshaw’s Railway Companion”, it included many of his maps
and cost one shilling (5p). This publication also included sectional
maps, the rules and regulations of the railways, and other details.
produced monthly time sheet supplements to update information
and keep it currently accurate, to the great dismay of the railway
companies who objected at being kept strictly to time in this
way. “Bradshaw’s Monthly Guides”, despite this opposition, was
immensely successful.
he joined the Society of Friends (the Quakers), and worked a
great deal with Richard Cobden
in organising peace conferences and in setting up schools and
soup kitchens for the poor of Manchester. He
died of cholera in a trip to Norway in 1853 and is buried in
the Quaker burial ground in Park Road, Sale.
A recent BBC Television series, “Great Railway Journeys”
narrated and starring former MP Michael Portillo has traced
rail journeys using the original Bradshaw Guide.


James BrindleyThe James Brindley Monument at Etruria

The Brindley Monument at Etruria, Stoke on Trent


James Brindley was the engineer considered by many authorities
to be instrumental in the construction of the Bridgewater
for Francis Egerton,
the third Duke of Bridgewater, along with John Gilbert, his
foreman and chief land agent. Brindley was the celebrated engineer
largely responsible for starting the canal systems which eventually
stretched across all England and Wales, and heralded the way
for other later engineers like Thomas Telford. Brindley had
little formal education, (though his mother had taught him to
read), but soon began to demonstrate an imagination and innovative
conceptualism which were to become hallmarks of his career as
an engineer.
He was born in Thornsett, near Chapel-en-le-Frith, (in the High
Peak District near Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire). In 1733, as
a young lad, he was apprenticed to millwright Abraham Bennett
in Macclesfield, and by 1742 he had set up his own business
nearby at Leek, in Staffordshire. His first real engineering
experience was in 1752 when he went to the Wet Earth Colliery,
near Salford to resolve
a persistent flooding problem in the mine – a problem which
he solved using a siphon principle, a waterwheel and pump.
The success of this project, as well as other work, brought
him to the attention of the Duke of Bridgewater’s chief of operations,
John Gilbert. He was taken on at Gilbert’s recommendation to
start work on the Bridgewater Canal (the so-called “Duke’s Cut”)
in 1759. This was to be the first true modern canal, designed
specifically to carry coal from the Duke’s collieries at Worsley
over the 10 miles to Castlefield
in Manchester. Its construction called for many ingenious engineering
solutions; an example of Brindley’s genius is the Barton
Swing Aqueduct
, built to allow his canal to cross over the
River Irwell in Salford, and to swing back, still holding the
rough of water to allow tall ships to pass on the Irwell beneath.
In 1769, Brindley married Anne Henshall and they had two daughters,
Susannah and Anne. He went on to develop other canal engineering
projects including the Birmingham and Chesterfield Canals, the
Caldon Canal at Stoke-on-Trent and the Trent
and Mersey Canal
. The latter involved the construction of
the impressive 2880 yard long Harecastle tunnel at Kidsgrove.
A commemorative statue to Brindley stands at the Junction of
the Caldon and Trent & Mersey canals to mark his death while
undertaking construction of the Caldon Canal. He is said to
have died of overwork.

Tom Kilburn CBE

Professor Tom Kilburn

Thomas Kilburn was responsible, along with Freddie Williams,
for the design and development of the first so-called Baby Computer
capable of stored memory at Manchester University in the 1950s,
the forerunner of the modern desktop PC computer. Kilburn was
born in Yorkshire in 1922 and had graduated in mathematics from
Cambridge in 1942. He had gone to work at Malvern College in
Worcestershire and had learnt telecommunications under Freddie
Williams who had set up a team of telecommunications research
engineers at the college. After the war, both Kilburn and Williams
moved to Manchester University, where they set to work with
cathode ray tubes and within a few months had discovered how
to store information in digital form on a tube. It came to be
known as the “Williams Tube”, and was developed locally
as the Ferranti Mark 1 Computer in 1951, the forerunner of modern
digital computers. Other
more powerful computers followed, including “Atlas”
in 1962, after which Manchester University set up the country’s
first Department of Computer Science, with Tom Kilburn as its
first professor. Kilburn retired in 1980, and died in January
2001 aged 79 years.


Roy Chadwick, aircraft engineer and designer

Born in 1893 at Marsh Hall Farm, Farnworth, (then in the County
of Lancashire), Roy Chadwick was the son Charles Chadwick, a mechanical
engineer, (the fourth generation of mechanical engineers in the
Chadwick family). Roy was to become the most celebrated chief
designer for A V Roe & Company (Avro) and was responsible
for practically all of their aeroplane designs.
From 1915 until his death in 1947 he produced designs for over
200 aircraft, but is probably best remembered as the designer
of the World War Two Lancaster Bomber. In 1898, when young Roy
was just 5 years old, his father had been Supervisor of Installations
of Steam Laundry equipment in houses and castles throughout the
British Isles, and by 1917 had become Works Manager at the Avro
Company at their experimental station at Hamble, Southampton.
Roy Chadwick did the draughtsmanship for the Avro 504 in 1913
and was the designer of the famous Avro Vulcan, in 1946/47, which
was to be his last design. He was known to originate designs as
doodles on graph paper – the famous Vulcan Bomber for example,
according to family members, began life as a just such a sketch.
Similarly, he had sketched a transatlantic jet airliner, the forerunner
of Concorde. Chadwick had originally been employed by the British
Westinghouse company in Trafford Park but left in September 1911,
to work as personal assistant to Alliot Verdon Roe himself at
his factory at Brownsfield Mill in Manchester.
Initially, Chadwick was a draughtsman for the Avro company, translating
A V Roe’s sketches and notes into detailed drawings. Subsequently,
he was made chief draughtsman, and in 1918 he became, officially,
chief designer. His first design, in 1915, was the Avro Pike,
a biplane bomber, which he designed at the age of 22. Later, he
went on to design the Anson, which made its maiden flight at Woodford
Airfield in 1935.
Roy Chadwick died at Woodford on 23rd August 1947. While testing
his Tudor II Airliner, the aircraft lost control and crashed into
Shirfold Farm nearby. Later it was established that the accident
had been due to a servicing error, and not a fault in the aircraft.
In the tragic accident all but two members of the crew were killed
outright, including Chadwick himself. Proud of being a Lancastrian
and a Mancunian, Roy Chadwick is said to have been one of the
Institute of Technology’s most famous students, and a plaque to
commemorate his achievements can be seen in the entrance hall
(now UMIST, the University of Manchester Institute of Science
& technology).

We are indebted to Roy Chadwick’s daughter, Margaret Dove, (who
holds numerous archives of her father’s life and career), for
correcting our earlier errors and for providing accurate details
of his life and work See more detail on her website at


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This page last updated 21 Dec 11.