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British Industrial History

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Henry Walker Willcox

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Henry Walker Willcox (1869-1940)

1940 Obituary [1]

HENRY WALKER WILLCOX, with his brother, established the consulting engineering practice associated with his name in Sunderland. Mr. Willcox was born in Lewisham in 1869, and received his education in Sunderland High School and at the College of Science, Newcastle upon Tyne. In 1886 he commenced a four years' apprenticeship with Messrs. George Clark, Ltd., of Sunderland, and after a further period in the drawing office he remained for a few months as a journeyman with the firm. He then went to sea in a vessel belonging to Messrs. Millburn, and later obtained his First-Class Board of Trade Certificate.

Subsequently he became chief engineer of S.S. Port Elliot, and shortly afterwards suffered shipwreck off Dakar, in S.S. Port Douglas. On the death of his father, Mr. F. W. Willcox, M.I.Mech.E., in 1896, he left the sea and established his practice as a consulting marine engineer and ship surveyor in Sunderland. During his connection with the firm he was associated with the construction and supervision of merchant vessels for various owners, and had been a surveyor for the London Salvage Association since 1900.

He made many visits to foreign ports, salvaging damaged vessels in the interests of London underwriters. Thus in 1900 he went to Rio de Janeiro, to fit 40 feet of temporary wooden bottom to S.S. Hazel Branch, and three years later he effected similar repairs to S.S. Bristuria at Messina. During the war of 1914-18 his firm was appointed by the Admiralty, through Messrs. Vickers, Ltd., to superintend the fitting of Otter mine-protecting gear to 189 vessels at various north-east coast ports. Mr. Willcox was also associated with his brother in the design and production of an improved form of propeller, which he patented and marketed in his name, and which he fitted to over 4,000 vessels. He was a director of the now defunct Rectory Engineering Company, Ltd., which manufactured marine auxiliary machinery patented by his firm. In addition he was a district representative of Messrs. J. and E. Hall, Ltd., of Dartford, for marine refrigeration. He was a keen supporter of numerous technical societies.

In 1909 he was elected a Member of the Institution, and he was a founder of the Society of Consulting Marine Engineers and Ship Surveyors. His death occurred in Sunderland on 6th August 1940.

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