William Dent Priestman

Dredger outside Streetlife Museum,High Street, HU1 1PS. Grid E3

William Dent Priestman was born in Sutton near Hull in 1847, one of eleven children. His father purchased the Holderness Foundry in Hull, and following on from this, William and his brother Samuel founded Priestman Brothers Ltd, Grab, Crane and Excavator Makers, in 1870.  In 1885, William invented, built and patented the world’s first reliable and commercially successful oil engine – the Priestman Oil Engine. In addition, William is credited with being the first to fit an oil engine to a locomotive, in 1894. Between 1888 and 1904, over 1,000 of these engines were manufactured. There is an example of a Priestman engine outside the Streetlife Museum. The company went bankrupt in 1895 and the brothers lost control of the company, although manufacturing of diggers and dredgers continued until the late 20th century. William died in 1936 at his home in Garden Village.

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