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British Industrial History

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John Head (1839-1893)

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John Head (1839-1893)

1893 Obituary [1]

JOHN HEAD was born in Birmingham on the 11th April, 1839, and was educated in France.

On leaving school he was engaged in that country as a bank clerk until his nineteenth year, when he returned to England and set up on his own account as a commission agent. He carried on a successful business in steam gauges and other engine-fittings, and it was probably in connection with the sale of these that he first became acquainted with Mr. (afterwards Sir) William Siemens, who was then agent for the Berlin firm of Siemens and Halske.

In 1859 Mr. Head was engaged by Messrs. Siemens and Halske and in the following year was appointed personal assistant to Mr. William Siemens, who had a private engineering business. From that time he devoted himself absolutely to the work and interests of his employer, and if there is little or nothing to chronicle specially about him, it is because he sank his own personality entirely in that of Mr. Siemens.....[more]

1893 Obituary [2]

JOHN HEAD was born in Birmingham on April 11, 1839, but he did not long remain in his natal town, as he was removed to France when he was four years of age. Here he was educated, and here he first began business, having been engaged as a banking clerk before his return to England. In 1858 he carried on business in England on his own account as an agent for the sale of steam engine fittings. In 1859, Mr. William Siemens was agent in this country for the Berlin firm of Siemens and Halske, and engaged Mr. Head as clerk. In 1860 he was employed as Mr. Siemens' personal assistant, and he continued in that gentleman's employment until his death as Sir William Siemens in 1883, when, on the transfer of the business to Mr. Frederick Siemens, Mr. Head was appointed general representative for Great Britain, France, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, and the United States of America and their colonies. During the period of his employment by the late Sir William Siemens and Mr. Frederick Siemens, he was actively engaged in this country and abroad, in superintending the design, construction, and working of regenerative gas furnaces, and their application to processes for the manufacture of steel, and of glass, as well as to the ordinary metallurgical processes of heating and puddling iron.

During the last eight years Mr. Head has read papers before the Iron and Steel Institute and other societies. In the beginning of 1885, he brought Mr. Frederick Siemens' process of heating by radiation before the South Staffordshire Institute of Iron and Steel Works Managers. In 1886 he read a paper on blow-holes in open hearth steel before the Iron and Steel Institute, in which he brought forward evidence to show that blow-holes were found in glass or steel melted in furnaces in which the flame came in contact with the materials being treated, whilst this was not the case when heating by radiation was adopted. In 1887 he read a paper before the Sanitary Congress at Bolton on the application of this system of heating to gas-fired boilers. In 1885 he brought before the Iron and Steel Institute a paper on " A Modified Form of the Siemens Old Type Gas-producer," advocating an arrangement by which the gases are enriched, and the by-products recovered.

In 1889, Mr. Head and M. Pouff, who was at that time Mr. Siemens' representative in Paris, read a paper at the Paris meeting of the Iron and Steel Institute, which was discussed in 1890, on a new form of Siemens furnace arranged to recover waste gases as well as waste heat. This furnace was designed by Mr. E. Biederman and Mr. E. W. Harvey. According to this invention, a certain proportion of the waste products of combustion are supplied hot into the incandescent fuel of the gas-producer, and the carbonic anhydride of these waste products is thus converted into carbonic oxide, by which a considerable economy in fuel is realised. The gas-producer in the new form of Siemens furnace partly takes the place of the gas regenerator in the original Siemens furnace, so that the new form permits of the suppression of the gas regenerators, the placing of the gas-producer close to the furnace, and a simplification and economy in construction.

At the last meeting of the Iron and Steel Institute, Mr. Head read a paper entitled " Notes on Puddling," which is published in this volume. Although for years past Mr. Head has suffered from bad health, and was attacked by influenza three years ago, his sudden death from pneumonia, which took place after six days' illness, was a shock and surprise to all who knew him. He died on July 14, and was interred at St. Mary's Cemetery, Kensal Green, on the 20th. Mr. Head was a Fellow of the Geological Society, and a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers. He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1884.

1893 Obituary [3]

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