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Science & Invention

William Symington

William Symington

William Symington (1763-1831) was born in Leadhills, but lived and worked for most of his life in Wanlockhead. He is the inventor of the first steam powered ship, the engine for which was built at the Old Manse, Wanlockhead. Exactly how his ideas were taken up by Henry Bell and Robert Fulton, who are credited with the invention of steam navigation, is shrouded in mystery. William returned to Sanquhar in Dumfriesshire where he continued to make pumping engines but he died in London an impoverished and embittered genius.