Andrew Handyside was born in Edinburgh in 1805. He began working life in his uncle's foundry but lin 1848 took over the Brittania Works in Derby. The works already had a good reputation for the quality of its castings. According to an article on www.bygonederbyshire.co.uk this reputation was partly based on the quality of local sand which was ideally suited for iron moulding.
When Handyside took over the works were already producing cylinder blocks for the Midland Railway Loco Works in Derby. (The Loco works continued to be an important manufacturer and repairer of steam locos right through to the 1970's. As a young railway enthusiast in the early 1960's I made several visits to the works, and my father had been based there for a time as an engineering inpsector towards the end of the Second World War.) In the 1850's Handyside focussed on improving the quality and strength the iron castings being produced at his works.
According to the Bygone Derbyshire website report when some of the castings from the Handyside works were independently tested in 1854 they were shown to have a maximum loading of up to 23 tons per square inch against the previous standard of 17 tons.
The Britannia works was versatile. Amongst products manufactured in the 1840's were included
lamp posts for gas street lighting
early post boxes for the emergent Royal Mail
window frames to thousands of varying designs
bridges (400 for the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway alone)
mills, hammers, forges, presses
Under Handyside's guidance the project range grew and diversified. Standardised components enabled the company to produce prefrabricated structures which could be transported easily to a site anywhere in the world and then pieced together to create structures such as covered market halls or high roofed steam engine shedds or other railway uses.