Scotch Marine Boiler manufactured by Albion Iron Works Photo courtesy of BC Archives A-06225 –
In October, 1862 Joseph Spratt founded the Albion Iron Works on two lots at Victoria’s Chatham and Discovery Streets to provide Victoria’s growing demand for wood stoves. By 1881 the main Albion complex covered an entire block on Store Street at Discovery.
To prevent American domination of Vancouver Island’s shipbuilding industry James Douglas, Governor of Vancouver Island, passed laws favouring the local shipbuilding industry. Albion purchased slips on the east side of the Point Ellice Bridge, expanding to manufacture boilers, steam engines, and plumbing and installing them in wooden hulls built in Victoria’s shipyards.
In 1882 Spratt sold Albion to a group of local businessmen including William Irving whose connection to Canadian Pacific Navigation Company was advantageous, as was that of new board member Robert Dunsmuir, who served as Albion’s director of sales. Albion was soon building cars for Dunsmuir’s E&N railway. In 1890 the Works won the contract to build the 400-horsepower steam engine to power Victoria’s new cable streetcar system.
Spratt returned to the foundry business in 1887, partnering with former manager of Albion Iron Works, Andrew Gray to establish Spratt and Gray. The company operated under the name Victoria Machinery Depot on waterfront land purchased on the north side of Rock Bay.
In 1893 Albion won the contract to supply the iron and steel for Rattenbury’s new BC Legislature buildings. By this time Albion division offered as many as 30 types of wood stoves, many of which were still being sold when the company was dissolved in 1928.