William Thomas Mulvany

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William Thomas Mulvany

William Thomas Mulvany (born March 11, 1806 in Dublin , Ireland ; † October 30, 1885 in Düsseldorf ) was an Irish entrepreneur in Germany.


Mulvany was one of seven children of a middle-class Catholic family in Dublin. His father Thomas James Mulvany (1779-1845) was a painter and director of the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin. His brother George Francis Mulvany (1809-1869) was also a painter and in 1864 director of the National Gallery in Dublin . Another brother Thomas John (1821-1892) became a mining industrialist in Westphalia.


In 1832 Mulvany married Alicia Winslow (born March 11, 1797 in St. John's Point Donegal, † February 26, 1886 in Pempelfort), the daughter of a large landowner from Fermanagh . He had five children with her. Among them the son Thomas Robert (born July 22, 1839 in Dublin; † August 16, 1903 in Haus Pempelfort-Düsseldorf) who later became the British Consul General for the Prussian provinces of Rhineland and Westphalia, as well as four daughters, including: Mary Harding (* 29. July 1836; † November 27, 1875) married to the industrialist Hermann Seebohm (1827–1886).


From 1855 until his death, Mulvany lived in Düsseldorf, where he lived in the Pempelfort district of the Knappengut ( Pempelfort house , today Carl-Mosterts-Platz). From 1872 he resided at Haus Goldschmieding in Castrop-Rauxel , where he had a landscaped park and a racecourse built. Around 1875 he also had the "Mulvany Villa" built in Herne , although it is not known that he also lived there. He died in 1885 and was buried in the Düsseldorf North Cemetery. The city of Gelsenkirchen made him an honorary citizen in 1880 . In Herne in 1908 a street near the former Shamrock colliery was named after him. Castrop-Rauxel, Recklinghausen , Gelsenkirchen and Düsseldorf also named streets after the entrepreneur. An Irish pub in Marl and a beer brand from an Oberhausen brewery also bear his name. In 2015, the “Vocational College for Economics and Administration of the City of Herne with Business High School” was renamed Mulvany Vocational College Herne . Mulvany's son Thomas Robert Mulvany (1839-1907) was a mining engineer and British Consul General for Westphalia and the Rhine Province in Düsseldorf.

Career in Ireland

Mulvany qualified as an engineer through practical experience. He learned technical drawing from an architect and joined the Irish Land Surveyors as a surveyor at the age of 20. In 1836 he became an employee of the Board of Public Works , an authority subordinate to the British Treasury to improve the infrastructure in backward Ireland. Mulvany was successively responsible for the projection of waterways and the modernization of the fishing industry, but above all for the drainage of large areas for the purpose of agricultural use. During the great Irish famine of 1845–1849 , the Board of Works undertakings were also job creation schemes for the suffering rural population. The costs were borne by the state and the large landowners. In 1853 the work was stopped due to excessive costs. Mulvany then resigned from civil service.


In 1855 Mulvany came to Germany as a representative and partner of an Irish investor group in order to participate in the coal mining in the Ruhr area . To open up the Hibernia collieries in Gelsenkirchen and Shamrock in Herne, he employed English specialists and had them introduce new mining methods.

Mulvany paid special attention to transport, sales and the development of new markets for the coal mined in the Ruhr area. This earned him public recognition, but did not optimize the mines' returns. In 1864 he was fired by the owners of Hibernia and Shamrock. When the mining company Hibernia was sold in 1873, the new joint stock company installed Mulvany as its chairman.

The grave of William Thomas Mulvany lies on the "millionaire hill" of the Düsseldorf North Cemetery . A stele erected in 1985 in front of Christ Church on Rotterdamer Strasse in Düsseldorf also commemorates him.

In addition to his work for the investors, Mulvany had planned new mine developments for his own account. In 1866, together with other entrepreneurs, he founded the Prussian Mining and Huts Company (PBHAG). The PBHAG included the mines Hansa and Zollern and the newly created Erin , as well as ore mines and the Vulcan ironworks . Due to costly technical problems with the expansion of the mines and due to the slow development of the railway connections, the PBHAG made losses and had to file for bankruptcy during the founding crisis in 1877.

Association politician

Even as an entrepreneur, Mulvany worked closely with the German mining authorities and regularly informed them about the work carried out under his leadership. Therefore, the transfer of English mining technology, which sustainably modernized mining in the Ruhr area, is particularly connected to his person.

As a member of the association and with memoranda, Mulvany continued to campaign for the expansion of the transport system. He thus gained some influence on the emerging industrial interest groups. In 1871 he became chairman of the "Association for the Protection of the Interests of Rhenish and Westphalian Entrepreneurs Rhineland and Westphalia", for which Bismarck coined the name "Langnamverein" . Mulvany helped found a stock exchange association in Düsseldorf in 1874. He made a significant contribution to the fact that Düsseldorf finally acquired the central location of a “ desk of the Ruhr area ” through the settlement of further associations and interest organizations .



  • William Otto Henderson: William Thomas Mulvany - an Irish entrepreneur in the Ruhr area 1806–1885 . (= Cologne Lectures on Social and Economic History, Issue 12). Research Institute for Social and Economic History at the University of Cologne, Cologne 1970 ( digitized version )
  • Evelyn KrokerMulvany, William Thomas. In: New German Biography (NDB). Volume 18, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 1997, ISBN 3-428-00199-0 , p. 577 f. ( Digitized version ).
  • Olaf Schmidt-Rutsch: William Thomas Mulvany - An Irish pragmatist and visionary in the Ruhr area 1806–1885 . (= Writings on Rhenish-Westphalian economic history, vol. 42). Cologne 2003
  • Curt Blömers: William Thomas Mulvany (1806-1885): A contribution to the history of the Rhenish-Westphalian large-scale industry and the German-English economic relations in the 19th century . In: Publications of the Archive for Rhenish-Westphalian Economic History . tape 8 . GD Baedeker, Essen 1922.


In the Mockumentary Thomas, Thomas von Corinna Liedtke , Wolfgang Weber, an archivist from Castrop-Rauxel , claims that Thomas Vallomtharayil, managing director of the Castrop-Rauxeler Medical Park Ruhr , is the reborn William Thomas Mulvany.

Individual evidence

  1. Mulvany, William T., Derendorfer Straße 1 , in the address book of the Lord Mayor's Office Düsseldorf 1880, p. 113
  2. ^ Rainer Nolden: Düsseldorf-Derendorf , Sutton Verlag, 2002, ISNBN 3897024047, p. 24, googelbooks Fig. House Pempelfort
  3. Mulvany Villa . The rise and fall of the Ruhr mining industry . Foreign impulses . Website in the portal lwl.org of the Landschaftsverband Westfalen-Lippe, accessed on February 10, 2013
  4. ^ City of Herne - Streets in Herne
  5. [1] Entry of the restaurant on Qype
  6. Brauhaus Biere ( Memento from January 20, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) Information on the beers of the Brauhaus Zeche Jacobi in Oberhausen
  7. WAZ January 12, 2015 Herner Vocational College is named after the Irish Mulvany
  8. ^ Hugo Weidenhaupt : Brief history of the city of Düsseldorf . Triltsch Verlag Düsseldorf, 9th edition 1983, p. 121

Web links

Literature by and about William Thomas Mulvany in the catalog of the German National Library