SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SHEILA TERRY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
William Fairbairn (1789-1874), British engineer. Initially apprenticed as an engine-wright, Fairbairn studied mathematics at Newcastle, England. In 1817 he established an engineering works for machine manufacture and gained a reputation as one of the country's leading engineers. From 1840 the factory also manufactured steam locomotives. In 1830 he was one of the first to build boats with iron hulls. He also pioneered the use of rectangular iron tubes whilst building George Stephenson's railway bridge over the Menai Strait in Wales. From 1851 Fairbairn sponsored Joule and Kelvin in geological investigations. Illustration taken from The Imperial Dictionary of Universal Biography (1857-1863).
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