Francis Baird

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Francis Baird (1802-1864) was an engineer of Scottish ancestry in St. Petersburg, who took over his father's flourishing business manufacturing machinery, ships, and metalwork for some of the city's major structures.

He was born on 16 February 1802, one of Charles Baird's three sons, and the only one to live beyond his thirties. He joined his father's company in St. Petersburg at the age of 17 and also went to Edinburgh University.

In 1823 he was elected to the Institution of Civil Engineers, one of its earliest members.

He married Dorothea Halliday in 1828 and they had ten children.

Some of the time he worked with his cousin William Handyside, who had a leading role in several engineering projects, and it is not entirely clear how much he helped Handyside with the specialist castings for the Alexander Column and St. Isaac's Cathedral. The cathedral work continued under Francis Baird's supervision when Handyside left Russia after Charles Baird died in 1843. At this time, Francis took over the Baird Works and the rest of his father's business. The decorative railings on the Nicholas Bridge (opened 1850) were produced by Baird's while he was in charge.

In 1860 the Baird Works were flourishing with between 1200 and 1500 employees, and were producing half a million roubles worth of goods per year. Francis Baird died on 25 March 1864, having received many Imperial honours. A memoir of his life and his father's was published after his death.

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