Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||James Abernethy |
|Designation: ||Ironfounder |
|Born: ||1809 |
|Died: ||1879 |
|Bio Notes: ||James Abernethy was born in 1809, one of the three sons and five children of James Abernethy, iron-founder and his wife Anne Harvey. The elder Abernethy had established an iron founding and sawmilling business in partnership with George and Robert Tower of Ferryhill and Alexander Gibbon, an advocate in Aberdeen. Abernethy senior may have been assisted in the business by his brother George. |
James junior was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School and Marischal College, Aberdeen and served his articles with his father. He also gained experience as a journeyman in Manchester, Birmingham and London. He returned to the family firm at Ferryhill and subsequently, assisted by his brothers, gradually took over running the business, James Abernethy & Co.
The business of the firm was quite varied at the beginning and included machinery for mills and processing machinery for colonial tea and sugar plantations and for guano extraction. Although the firm tried to dispense with the mill-wrighting side of the business, it still made mill machinery throughout the 19th century. However after 1850 the main business was bridges, generally to the designs of others, like Alexander Gibb and James Willet. Abernethy & Co provided the expertise as fabricators of cast and wrought iron structures. The bridges were generally for the Great North of Scotland Railway. By 1882 the GNSR had more than 300 under-bridges with cast-iron beams as well as many arch and lattice-girder bridges.
In 1841 Abernethy married Isabella Bathia Wyllie, the daughter of an Aberdeen bookseller. The couple had two sons. Abernethy was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1866.
He died in 1879, his practice being continued by his sons, James Washington Abernethy, born 1845, and David Wyllie Abernethy, born 1848. The business continued until the mid-20th century.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this ironfounder:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|Ferryhill Cottage, Aberdeen, Scotland||Private|| ||1879(?)|| |
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this ironfounder:|
|Abernethy, John Scott||1897||The life and work of James Abernethy CD FRSE Past President of the Institution of Civil Engineers|| ||London|| |
|Johnston, W T|| ||Scottish Engineers and Shipbuilders|| || || |
|The following archives hold material relating to this ironfounder:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Robert Gordon's University Archive||Collection of plans, manuscripts etc|| ||Information per Jim Fiddes|