Engineer whose locomotive Salamanca hauled the World’s first commercially successful steam trains on the Middleton Railway, Leeds.

In 1794, Matthew Murray was on the verge of leaving his job in a mill to found his own steam engine start-up. In later years Boulton, Watt & Sons would use dirty tricks to stop Murray in his tracks.

Working just a few yards from the site of Murray’s Round Foundry in Holbeck, I’ve long been inspired by this uneducated machine-maker, honoured by his successors as “the Father of Leeds Engineering”. Murray put his products to full use, not only in life – his house was heated by steam – but also in death, being buried beneath a cast iron obelisk in St Matthew’s churchyard.

At first I hesitated to include Murray in my 1794 story. His business of Fenton, Murray and Wood was not officially incorporated until the following year, but I succumbed because of my fascination with this timing. England was at war, the economy in tatters and politics in turmoil. How must Murray – not quite 30 years old – have felt as he prepared to start up his new enterprise in such conditions?

And then I got hold of Matthew Murray: Pioneer Engineer, which contains extracts from Murray’s correspondence and from Boulton and Watt’s archives. The feud between the two firms is quite a story.

Murray brings us back to Leeds, Joseph Priestley‘s home town. Where better to end our story than at the beginning?

One response to “

  1. Pingback: You wouldn’t burn a book, or some reflections on narrative capital « – Matt Edgar

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s