Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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James Hargreaves (Preston)

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John Hargreaves (May 1834–4 April 1915) was a Chemist, Industrialist and prolific Inventor.

1834 Born in Preston

Latterly worked with Thomas Robinson to form Hargreaves and Robinson in Widnes.

1859 Hargreaves moved to Widnes and worked for Gossage. Here he made his first two important discoveries; the recovery of chromates which were used in the bleaching of fats and oils, and a method of bleaching brown soap.

c.1865 he left Gossage and worked with two other soap making firms, Hazlehurst and Sons in Runcorn and then Stephen Cox and Co in Liverpool.

1868 November: Engineer of 108 Fylde Road, Preston.[1]

1871 he set up a business with his brother, John, who had studied chemistry in Preston, as consulting chemists.

He developed a process for recovering phosphates from blast furnace slag. In association with Thomas Robinson, he invented a process for producing saltcake (sodium sulphate) from salt without the use of sulphuric acid.

1872 The Atlas Chemical Co was established in Widnes to use the Hargreaves-Robinson process.

Developed an electrolytic cell using an asbestos diaphragms with Thomas Bird.

1893 the General Electrolytic Patent Co was established to develop a process for the electrolysis of brine using the Hargreaves-Bird cell.

1895 Thomas Bird died

1899 the Electrolytic Alkali Co was set up at Middlewich, with Hargreaves as a director and his son Luke as general manager.

He advocated the use of chlorine rather than bleaching powder to disinfect sewage. He developed a 'thermo-motor' which anticipated the diesel engine and at the time of his death he was developing a new type of cattle food.

He also wrote articles for scientific encyclopaedias, gave lectures and travelled widely, becoming a good linguist.

1915 he died at his home in Widnes.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1868/11/06