Adams Autobiography

Scope and Content

Bound typescript autobiography, 'The Record of a Busy Life' by William Adams, 1891, detailing his life in Chile, London, and the Midlands, including family history, family and associates, business, and other reminiscences, with a two-page printed biography from the 'Minutes of Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers' (vol cxxiv, Session 1895-1896, pt ii) inserted.

Administrative / Biographical History

Born at Quintero, Chile, 1821; came to London, 1826; worked in the carriage works of his father, William Bridges Adams, and uncle, c1836-1846; became manager of the London Works, Birmingham, 1846; in business with George Alcock, 1846-1850; began his own business, 1850; member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers; presented papers on railway carriages and wagons, 1850, 1852; formed the Midland Wagon Company, 1853; elected Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers, 1865; a director of Muntz's Metal Company; introduced into the USA the purchase lease system of letting railway wagons, 1874; formed the Union Rolling Stock Company for financing wagons on that system in the USA, 1875; presented to the Institution of Civil Engineers a paper on railway rolling stock capacity, 1876; director of the Birmingham Joint Stock Bank; Justice of the Peace and Deputy Lieutenant for Herefordshire; died at Gaines, Herefordshire, 1896. Publications: 'Twenty-six years Reminiscences of Scotch Grouse Moors' (H Cox, London, 1889); 'Bores and Loads for Sporting Guns for British game shooting' (H Cox, London, 1894).

Access Information


The papers are available subject to the usual conditions of access to Archives and Manuscripts material, after the completion of a Reader's Undertaking.

Acquisition Information

Received from Brian Adams via Professor Frederick Rosen in 1997.

Other Finding Aids

Collection level description.

Alternative Form Available

Microfilm copy at University College London Special Collections.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

Binding in poor condition.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal copyright restrictions apply.

Related Material

University College London Special Collections also holds correspondence between William Bridges Adams and his wife Elizabeth and her father Francis Place, concerning their travels in South America (Ref: MS ADD 396), correspondence of William Bridges Adams with Sir Edwin Chadwick (Ref: CHADWICK), and various other papers of Francis Place.