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Henry Faija

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Henry Faija (1844-1894) of Henry Faija and Co

1895 Obituary [1]

HENRY FAIJA was born in London on the 14th of November, 1844, and was educated at University College School.

In March, 1860, he was articled to Westwood, Baillie and Campbell, of London Yard, Isle of Dogs, in whose shops and drawing-office he gained some experience of engineering and shipbuilding.

On the expiration of his articles he served as an improver with Martin Samuelson and Co, shipbuilders, of Hull, and in 1866 was appointed chief draughtsman and sub-manager to Bainbridge, Davy and Hopper, of Willington Quay, Newcastle-on-Tyne. While in the employment of that firm he designed and superintended the construction of several first-class steamships.

Leaving Messrs. Bainbridge and Co. in 1868, he became managing partner of the Railway Foundry Co at Stoke-on-Trent, in which capacity he was engaged in the construction of several bridges and other works for the North Staffordshire and the Market Drayton Railways, and in the manufacture of pumps and other machinery for the neighbouring iron and coal mines.

In 1871 Mr. Faija removed to London and took an office in John Street, Bedford Row, where he practised on his own account as an engineer. It was there that he, almost accidentally, took up the subject of Portland cement - on which he later became an authority - for, on obtaining a commission to design and erect a cement works, he was so impressed with the crude and wasteful methods then employed for the production of that material, that he determined to devote special attention to the mechanical and chemical examination of cement, lime and concrete, and to their behaviour under the varying conditions met with in practice.

About the year 1875 he removed to Westminster, where he established a Portland Cement Testing-room and Laboratory. There he examined and reported upon cements and kindred materials, and the extent which this branch of his practice ultimately reached may be taken as indicative of the value attached to his opinion on such matters.

In 1881 he presented to the Institution a Paper entitled 'Results of Experiments with Portland Cement gauged with Sea and Fresh Water under different conditions,' and two years later a second Paper- 'On the Mechanical Examination and Testing of Portland Cement.' He also contributed essays on this subject to the Institution of Mechanical engineer, to the Royal Institute of British Architects, to the British Association, to the Society of Engineers, and to the International Engineering Congress held at Chicago in connection with the Columbian Exposition of 1893.

In 1881 he published a book entitled 'Portland Cement for Users,' which met with considerable success, and from time to time he contributed articles to the leading technical journals.

Mr. Faija displayed much ability as an inventor. As an outcome of his researches as to the constructive value of cement he devised an apparatus for determining its freedom from subsequent expansion. By artificially accelerating the setting and hardening of a sample this process enables an opinion to be formed in twenty-four hours, which in the ordinary course it would take at least a week to arrive at. He also invented a briquette-testing machine, and an apparatus for mixing powdered substances which is largely used by manufacturing chemists and in the testing-rooms of cement makers. At the time of the failures at Aberdeen Harbour he was particularly active in opposing the idea that the magnesia precipitated from sea-water had an injurious effect on concrete properly constructed of sound cement.

Mr. Faija's useful career was prematurely cut short by a complaint of the throat. After a protracted and distressing illness, which for three months compelled him to retire from active work, he died at Sunbury-on-Thames on the 21st of August, 1894, at the early age of forty-nine.

As an engineer Mr. Faija was principally occupied in the design and in superintending the construction of works, plant and machinery for the manufacture of cement and of building materials generally. As a man his unvarying straightforwardness and upright dealing were highly appreciated, while his kindly good nature and readiness to promote the enjoyment of others made him everywhere popular. On the Thames, where most of his spare time was spent, he was well known as an amateur punter, and he frequently acted as judge or umpire at the regattas held at Sunbury, to the success of which his tact and good temper contributed not a little.

Mr. Faija was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 12th of January, 1875, was subsequently placed among the Associate Members, and was transferred to the class of Member on the 20th of May, 1884.

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