Sir William Arrol (1839-1913), engineering entrepreneur, steel bridge builder, designer and manufacturer of cranes, heavy machinery and automobiles, innovator in construction methods
Sir William Arrol was a contractor responsible for the fabrication and construction of steel bridges many of which were at the forefront of technology. He developed methods of working and techniques which are still used today. After the collapse of the First Tay Bridge, the major bridges of the time in the United Kingdom, the Second Tay, Forth and Tower Bridges, were entrusted to him and his company. Achieving ingenuity in bridge construction required the development of specialist equipment for the manufacture and erection of steel components, for example the hydraulic riveters and cranes. This led to the development and production of machine tools and material handling devices.
Sir William Arrol's firm designed and developed a form of engineering workshop that provided clear working space with overhead crane capacity. These were extensively adopted by the heavy engineering and shipbuilding industries in the Glasgow area and further afield. Sir William Arrol saw the potential of the early automobiles and helped finance the Arrol-Johnston business in its formative years.
|Born 13th February in Houston, Renfrewshire, Scotland||1839|
|9||Started work in a Paisley Cotton Mill||1848|
|13||Started training as a blacksmith||1852|
|29||Started a boiler-making business in Peel Street, Glasgow||1868|
|32||Constructed Dalmarnock iron works||1871|
|36||Secured contract for Bothwell Viaduct over the River Clyde||1875|
|37||Secured contract for Caledonian Railway Bridge over River Clyde in Glasgow||1876|
|43||Secured contract for Reconstruction of Railway Bridge over River Tay||1882|
|44||Secured contract for the Forth Bridge||1882|
|47||Secured contract for Tower Bridge over River Thames in London||1886|
|50||Awarded Freedom of City of Dundee||1889|
|51||Awarded Doctorate of Laws by University of Glasgow||1890|
|51||Awarded Freedom of Royal Burgh of Ayr on 26 February||1890|
|56||Elected Liberal Unionist Member of Parliament for South Ayrshire||1895|
|56||President of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland||1895|
|56||Chairman and financial backer of Mo-Car Syndicate Limited which became Arrol-Johnston||1895|
|63||Sir William Arrol & Co built engine and boiler shops for Beardmore's Dalmuir Yard||1902|
|65||Sir William Arrol & Co built bridge over River Nile in Cairo||1904|
|69||Sir William Arrol & Co built the Arrol gantry at Harland and Wolf, Belfast for Titanic and Olympic||1908|
|74||Died 20th February at Seafield, Ayr, Scotland||1913|
|74||Buried at Woodside Cemetery, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||1913|
The legacy of Sir William Arrol can be seen in the many bridges, cranes and engineering workshops that are still in existence with many still in use: in particular the Forth Bridge, Tower Bridge and Tay Bridge. Sir William created a company which continued, long after his death, to produce and construct "Arrol built" bridges, buildings and cranes that were exported worldwide.
Some surviving examples of his work have become world icons of engineering. The Forth Bridge and Clydebank's Titan crane are classed as World Civil Engineering Landmarks by the American Societies of Civil and Mechanical Engineers.
Bridges, with description of their manufacturing works Sir William Arrol Ltd, 1909
Bridges, Structural Steel Work, and Mechanical Engineering Productions partly reprinted from Engineering. London. 1909
Sir William Arrol, a Memoir Sir Robert Purvis, 1913.
Sir William Arrol, the Great Scottish Bridge Builder John Arrol, 1996.
Bridges, Structural Steelwork Sir William Arrol & Co, 1909.
The Forth Bridge W Westhofen, 1890.
Battle for the North Charles McKean, 2006.
Archives Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland
Archives Glasgow City Archives
There are two portraits of Sir William Arrol held in the National Portrait Gallery.
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography entry (full text available to subscribers and UK library members)
TO CITE THIS PAGE: MLA style: "Scottish Engineering Hall of Fame". engineeringhalloffame.org. Date of viewing. http://www.engineeringhalloffame.org/profile-arrol.html