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Peter Boswell Brown

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Sir Peter Boswell Brown. (1866-1948) of Hadfields

1948 Obituary [1]

"THE Sheffield steel industry has lost one of its distinguished members by the death of Sir Peter Boswell Brown, which occurred, as briefly announced in our last issue, on October 12th, at his home at Ranmoor, Sheffield. For fifty-seven years, until his retirement in 1945, he was in the service of Hadfields, Ltd., and for much of that long period was closely associated with the late Sir Robert Hadfield in developing the practical use of manganese steel for industrial purposes.

Sir Peter, who was the son of Mr. John Brown, an engineer of Greenock, was born in 1866, and received the earlier part of his education at Greenock and Woolwich. His engineering career started with an apprenticeship at the Erith ironworks of Easton and Anderson, and when that was completed in 1888, Sir Peter joined the staff of Hadfields, Ltd., as draughtsman and assistant manager. At the same time, he continued his education at the Applied Science Department of Sheffield University, where he took courses in metallurgy. A few years later, Sir Peter became works manager of Hadfields, Ltd., and in that position was largely responsible for the design and equipment of the company's East Hecla Works.

In 1904 he came to London to take charge of the company's interests there, but on the outbreak of war, in 1914, the board of Hadfields, Ltd., requested him to return to Sheffield to take over the general management of the Hecla and East Hecla works. Sir Peter joined the Board of Hadfields, Ltd., in 1909, was appointed managing director in 1917, deputy chairman in 1930, and on the death of Sir Robert Hadfield, in 1940, he succeeded to the chairmanship of the company, in which position he remained until his retirement five years later.

The progressive development of Hadfields, Ltd., is undoubtedly a testimony to the energy and skill of Sir Peter and to the loyal service which, in collaboration with Sir Robert Hadfield, he rendered during his long and active association with the company. When Sir Peter joined the staff, Hadfields, Ltd., was a relatively small firm, employing about 400 men, but it has grown through the years to become one of the leading steel and engineering concerns, employing many thousands of workers in its various departments. Among Sir Peter's many achievements during his career at Hadfields, Ltd., there may be mentioned the design and patenting of the first solid cast manganese steel switch for tramways, which is now used in many countries for tramway and railway permanent way, where working conditions are particularly severe. He also devoted a great deal of time to the development of the Hadfield system of manufacturing armour-piercing projectiles. Nor should it be overlooked that the development of manganese and other alloy steels, mentioned above, necessitated new methods of manufacture and fabrication, with the success of which Sir Peter was closely concerned."

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