The factory was built with a quay alongside to take ocean-going ships. The works was managed by George Harrison with a Mr. Alexander and William Heap as assistants. The machine shop was 900 feet (274 m) in length and included a blacksmiths' shop with 40 furnaces, anvils and steam hammers, a coppersmiths' shop, and fabrication, woodwork and pattern shops. There was also a well-stocked library and a reading room for all the workforce.
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From his first contract at Penkridge, Brassey became the great railway builder of the century. By 1847 he had built one out of three miles in Britain. By 1850 he had constructed 3 out of every 4 miles in France. When he died in 1870, leaving a fortune of over 5 million pounds in trust for his wife and four sons, he had constructed railways in Italy, Denmark, Russia, Austria, India, Australia, Canada and the Argentine.
A one hundred word summary of Thomas Brassey - by Doug Haynes
Thomas Brassey was born on 7th November 1805, and was the eldest child of John and Elizabeth Brassey. He was initially educated privately at home, and then as a boarder at a private school in Chester. On leaving school at 16, he went as an apprentice to a Land surveyor. When he completed his apprenticeship at the age of 21, he became a partner with his employer in the firm of Lawton and Brassey, and when Lawton retired, he took over as sole manager of the business.
During this time he prospered, owning brick making works, stone quarries, lime kilns etc, and was obviously a very successful business man. He married on 27th December 1831, Maria Farrington Harrison, daughter of a Birkenhead business man, and it was she who encouraged him to tender to build a ten mile stretch of the Grand Junction railway that was to link Birmingham with Manchester. This contract included the Penkridge Viaduct. His tender was successful, and within twelve months he was building more sections of this Grand Junction Railway, he was completing the London to Southampton Railway, and was working on other contracts in the North of England and Scotland.
By then he was employing some 3,000 men, and the contracts were valued at £4M (In present day terms I estimate this as something like one third of a BILLION pounds.
During his life as a railway builder, he built one third of all the miles of railway in this country, and one twentieth of all the railways built in the whole of the rest of the world. In fact he built in almost all of the continents of the world and a high proportion of the countries. He built in excess of half a mile of railway, with the stations and bridges that were involved, for every day of his railway building life of 36 years. He worked with all the great engineers of his age, particularly with George and Robert Stephenson’s, with Isambard Kingdom Brunel, and Joseph Locke.
He employed up to 75,000 people, and carried ALL the financial risks personally.
He had NO office or office workers but did ALL his correspondence personally.
He also built docks and warehouses, Harbours, Sewers, (a major part of the London sewers!), major drainage schemes throughout the world, housing estates, mines, railway rolling stock, and much more.
It is said by some that his influence on the world at large was greater than that of Alexander the Great, and it is also said by some, that;
He acquired more self-made wealth than any other Englishman did in the 19th Century.(£4M In present day terms I estimate this as something like one third of a BILLION pounds.)
“Not bad for a farmer's son from just down the road whom most of us have never even heard