Encyclopedia Titanica

William Edward Hipkins

Manufacturer and Industrialist

William Edward Hipkins
William Edward Hipkins

Mr William Edward Hipkins, 55, was born in Birmingham, Warwickshire on 1 January 1857, the son of Mr George Frederick Hipkins (1819-1863) and his wife Rebecca Houghton (1826-1906?).  He had a brother George Frederick who died as a baby and a sister Bertha (1860-1940) known as 'Beadie'.

Hipkins was educated between 1868 and 1872 at the Birmingham Grammar School, and later, until 1875 by private tutors while travelling the United States and on the Continent. In 1875, by way of an apprenticeship, he worked as an engineer's toolmaker and machinist at the family firm "G.F. Hipkins & Son"1 in Edgbaston, Birmingham. In 1880 he began a two-year term in the firm's drawing office and then, in 1882, was appointed assistant manager. From 1886 until 1889 he was manager of the firm.

In 1890 Hipkins became manager of John & Edwin Wright (steel rope manufacturers) of Birmingham, a position he held until 1895. He was also the author of the book "The wire rope and its applications"

Hipkins then became manager of James Watt & Co. (late Boulton & Watt) engineers at the Soho Foundry and managing director of W. T. Avery Limited (weighing machinists & engineers). He was also a director of Birmingham Small Arms and retained a directorship in John & Edwin Wright. He was also Life Governor of the University of Birmingham and was the main initiator in setting up the University's Faculty of Commerce (now called the Business School). He was elected a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1898.

He married Lavinia Ellen Green in 1905, she died in 1910. 

In 1912 Hipkins resided at two addresses, 16 Augustus Road, Birmingham where he lived generally and 50 Albert Hall Mansions, London which he used as his London base for business and travel.

Hipkins' firm is believed to have supplied a weighing machine for the Titanic's Turkish bath.

Hipkins took the train from Birmingham and stayed a couple of days in London before taking the Titanic express boat train to Southampton. He travelled as a first-class passenger (ticket number 680, £50) and occupied cabin C-39.

Hipkins died in the disaster, his body, if recovered, was never identified.  

His estate was worth over £38,000 (about £3m.)

He is remembered on his family tomb at Hipkins family tomb in Warstone Lane Cemetery (Section D, Grave 1001), a tablet to his memory was unveiled at the works of W. T. Avery on the first anniversary of the sinking, current whereabouts unknown, evidently a modern version appears in its place.  The firm also produced an In Memoriam booklet. In 1913 his sister donated an oil painting, Springtime in Spain, near Gordella, (John William Inchbold) to Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery in his memory.

Hipkins Memorial
Memorial stone at Warstone Lane Cemetery, Birmingham
(Pho​​to: Trevor Baxter)
Brass Plaque
Brass Plaque at Avery Weigh Tronix, Soho Foundry, Smethwick, Birmingham
(Pho​​to: Trevor Baxter)


  1. The firm manufactured steel goods including door springs, hinges, toys, corkscrews, knife sharpeners and nutcrakers.

References and Sources

Proposal for Election to The Institution of Mechanical Engineers
British Census 1881
Birmingham Daily Gazette
, 16 April 1912 - 29 April inc.
Contract Ticket List, White Star Line 1912 (National Archives, New York; NRAN-21-SDNYCIVCAS-55[279])


Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
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Comment and discuss

  1. dorismhipkins

    Thanks for the info and sources on William Edward Hipkins. Do you know if any of his belongings were found? Please advise on how to find out if William Edward is a relative.

  2. M. J. Fazio

    Is it possible to know if William Hipkins survived a previous shipwreck of a boat called the S. S. Chatham that wrecked at the St. James River in 1910?

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Titanic Passenger Summary

Name: Mr William Edward Hipkins
Age: 55 years 3 months and 14 days (Male)
Nationality: English
Religion: Anglican (Church of England)
Marital Status: Widowed
Last Residence: in Birmingham, England
Occupation: Manufacturer
Embarked: Southampton on Wednesday 10th April 1912
Ticket No. 680, £50
Cabin No. C39
Died in the Titanic disaster (15th April 1912)
Body Not Identified

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