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Everard Hesketh

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Everard Hesketh {1854-1942) of J. and E. Hall, Iron Works, Dartford, a pioneer in refrigeration.

1942 Obituary [1]

1943 Obituary [2]

EVERARD HESKETH, whose death occurred in Johannesburg on 18th May 1942, was a member of the Institution for over sixty years, having been elected a Graduate in 1879 and transferred to Membership in 1882. He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He will be remembered as one of the pioneers of the frozen meat trade, and it was largely due to his energy and prescience that this country secured a leading position in the manufacture of all kinds of refrigerating machinery.

He was born in London in 1854 and was educated at Marlborough College and in the engineering department of King's College, London, where he won the Easton Scholarship which entitled him to undergo a three years' apprenticeship at Messrs. Easton and Anderson's works at Erith, Kent. In 1878 he entered the drawing office of Messrs. J. and E. Hall, of Dartford, and in the following year became a partner, being made senior partner in 1880. On the conversion of the business into a private limited company in 1888 he was elected chairman and on the formation of the present public company in 1900 he continued to hold that position until 1921, when he still retained the senior directorship up to the time of his retirement in 1932.

When Mr. Hesketh joined the firm its chief products were steam engines, boilers, and gunpowder machinery; the equipment, however, was somewhat antiquated, but under his guidance the shops were gradually rebuilt and furnished with modern plant. In 1879 he introduced the manufacture of refrigerating machinery, a beginning being made with the Giffard cold air machine which had attracted his attention at the Paris International Exhibition of 1877. In spite of the limitations of the Giffard machine, Mr. Hesketh speedily recognised that there were great possibilities in mechanical refrigeration and as early as 1886 visited Buenos Aires in connection with the installation of meat freezing plant.

It was in 1887 that his adoption of the Windhausen carbonic acid system brought about a great expansion of the manufacture of plant for the frozen meat trade and, notwithstanding some initial mechanical difficulties, the first ship fitted with this type, the Highland Chief, had over twenty years' satisfactory service to its credit. Further developments under his direction were the introduction of ammonia and methyl chloride machines and the extension of the firm's products over a wide range of purposes for use on land as well as at sea.

Later, steam engines gave way to the oil engine and electrical drives. Mr. Hesketh found time for many other activities and was a prominent figure in the public and social life of the Dartford and Eltham districts for more than half a century. He was a member of the Kent County Council for fifteen years and was an original member of the Kent Education Committee. He also served on the Dartford Urban Authority from 1884 to 1913. In addition he took a great interest in general and technical education, to which he gave practical expression in many ways, such as by his initiation in 1886 of the Dartford Free Lecture Society, supported by the most distinguished lecturers of the day, and by his chairmanship of the society's technical committee, which he occupied for forty-five years.

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