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Henry Coke Powel

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Henry Coke Powel (1842-1933)

1896 of Tintern House, 64 Burnt Ash Hill, Lee, London

1933 Obituary [1]

HENRY COKE POWEL was one of the oldest surviving members of the Institution, in respect both of his years and in seniority of membership.

He was born at Margam, Glamorganshire, in 1842, and at the age of fourteen was sent on a long voyage, during which he was shipwrecked. He then spent two years at King's College, London, and subsequently obtained his practical training with Messrs. A. and J. Inglis of Glasgow, and Messrs. Losh, Wilson and Bell of Newcastle upon Tyne.

Mr. Powel then became associated with Mr. J. F. Spencer and joined the North Eastern Marine Engineering Company as draughtsman and inspector on its foundation by Mr. Spencer in 1866. For the following seven years he held various engineering and industrial posts at home and in Ireland, Egypt, and France.

He joined Mr. Bartrum, a former member of Mr. Spencer's staff in 1875, under the title of Bartrum, Powell and Company, and together they brought out the "Comet" engine and pump on the rotary principle. Four years later the partnership was dissolved, and Mr. Powel went to Chile as engineer to the Antofagasta Nitrate Company, where he carried out much important work for the company, both in the works and the railway.

In 1882 he became manager at the works of his cousin, M. Thomas Powell, at Rouen, and was responsible for the manufacture of Corliss mill engines, Worthington pumps, the Armington-Sims high-speed engine, and the "Simplex" gas engine, which was the first gas engine to employ electrical ignition. He also acted as Vice-Consul for the United States in Rouen during this time.

On his return to England in 1894, Mr. Powel was appointed representative of two American firms, the Blake-Knowles Steam Pump Works and the Wheeler Condenser Company.

Several years later he acted as negotiator with Mr. Niclausse on behalf of Messrs. Willans and Robinson, who were attempting to establish works for the manufacture of the Niclausse water tube boiler at Queensferry.

He was later associated with the late Capt. H. Riall Sankey, M.I.Mech.E. (Past-President), on consulting work, and visited South America several times. He also acted as a juror in the award of diplomas at international exhibitions, and went to several European capitals in that capacity.

Mr. Powel's various patents, dating from 1875 to 1913, indicated the wide extent of his interests and included improvements connected with rotary engines and pumps, gas engines, water circulation in boilers, water cooling devices, petroleum burners, and a resilient traction wheel.

Mr. Powel had been a Member of the Institution for fifty-five years, having been elected in 1878.

He died at Sydenham on 24th October 1933, in his ninety-first year.

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