Sir William Fairbairn

1789 - 1874

Engineer. Born in Kelso (Scottish Borders), the son of a farmer, Fairbairn left the land for England to become an apprentice mill-wright. He set up a business to manufacture mill machinery in Manchester before moving to London, where he opened a shipyard and became a pioneer of the use of iron in the construction of ships. He built the first iron-hulled steamship the Lord Dundas. When assisting Robert Stephenson in the construction of his Conway and the Menai Strait bridges in North Wales, Fairbairn developed the idea of using tubular steel as a construction material. This was both stronger and lighter than solid steel and Fairbairn went on to built hundreds of bridges using this method. He set up an iron-works in Manchester which produced boilers for steam engines and locomotives.

He was knighted in 1869 and his statue stands in Manchester Town Hall.

Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry arrow

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better