William Thomas Mulvany (1806 – 85)

Mulvany was an Irish surveyor and entrepreneur who prospered in the Ruhrgebiet, and did much to transfer British mining technology to Germany. He was born in Dublin, brother to William Thomas Mulvaney (1806-85), architect of several notable railway stations in Ireland, and possibly of the industrial community of the 1850s at Portlaw.

W T Mulvany trained as an architectural draughtsman, and from 1826 worked for the Irish Surveying Office. In 1836 he was appointed to the staff of the Board of Works for Ireland, where he was responsible, amongst other things, for inland waterways and the fishing industry. In the years after the Great Famine of 1846 he managed some of the job creation schemes established by the Board of Works to relieve poverty in the worst-affected areas.

In 1855 he migrated to Germany as representative of a group of Irish capitalists who were investing in collieries, notably the Hibernia mine in Gelsenkirchen and the Shamrock mine at Herne. Mulvany brought skilled miners from Britain into his collieries, and was particularly successful in finding new markets for coal from the Ruhrgebiet, in part by securing the improvement of transport facilities. At Gelsenkirchen he built some miners` housing with the curving roofs topped with tarred calico that were characteristic of the cotton-spinning community of Portlaw in Ireland, the design of which may have originated with his brother. Mulvany was dismissed from his original company although he later returned as chairman of the board of directors of the Shamrock mine.

In 1866 he founded Preussische Bergswerkes- und Hutten-Aktiengesellschaft (the Prussian Mining and Ironworks Company, or PBHAG), a substantial company which owned for a time the Hansa and Zollern colliery complexes, and established the Erin mine and the Vulcan ironworks. The company went bankrupt in 1877 but Mulvany was highly regarded by fellow industrialists and by the government mining authorities in the Ruhrgebeit. He lived in Dusseldorf from 1855 until his death and is buried in the city cemetery.