Sir William Anderson


Sir William Anderson
Sir William Anderson

This week marks 180 years since the birth of William Anderson, a past president of our Institution. Born in St Petersburg on the 5th January 1835, Anderson came to the UK in 1849 to study applied sciences at Kings College, London. Upon graduation, he travelled to Manchester to be a pupil of Sir William Fairbairn at the Canal Street Works.

Anderson then moved to Dublin to become manager of Courtney, Stephens and Co at Blackhall Iron Works, where he was made a partner in 1855. The company made many bridges; including the Malahide Viaduct, as well as the usual constructive ironwork for railways. Whilst here he became president of the Institution of Civil Engineers of Ireland. He then came back to London to plan the layout of a large works at Erith with Easton and Amos. Skilled at building layouts, Anderson then travelled to Egypt to help erect three sugar factories in 1871, and Japan to erect the Ogi Paper Mill in 1874.

His later career was more concerned with ordnance, and he worked for the War Office to design the new machinery that would manufacture the smokeless explosive Cordite in 1889. Later in this year he was made Director General of Ordnance Factories and was responsible for places such as the gun factory at Woolwich Arsenal and the gunpowder factory at Waltham Abbey. Anderson was president of the Institution between 1892-3. He received a knighthood in 1897 and died at Woolwich Arsenal in 1898.

Archive, Institution of Mechanical Engineers


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