Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Richard Brain

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of Lamarche et Brain (Belgium)

The following information is condensed from two Belgian sources[1] [2]

Richard Brain, formerly a foreman with Boulton and Watt in Birmingham, moved to Belgium in 1818 to join the Cockerill brothers. However, the relationship was not satisfactory and he left Cockerill's in the summer of 1819.

He joined forces in Ougrée, with another English worker called Hope, and Brain persuaded Ista to invest in a foundry that Charles Quirini-Goreux (1780-1862) had established in 1809. The Ougrée foundry, started in December 1819, managed to sell a dozen steam engines. Between 1819 and 1821 Richard Brain installed Watt-type engines in mills in Aalst, Hamme, Ghent and Louvain. These were the first machines of this type installed in Flanders. However, the business was declared bankrupt in 1822.

In 1827, Brain joined forces with an industrialist in Hourpes - Hubert Lejeune - without success. Brain founded the "Ateliers d'Ougrée à Seraing" in association with Watrin-Dardespine.

He finally found success when in 1829 he joined with brothers Gilles-Antoine Lamarche, Vincent Mathieu Lamarche, and Charles Guillaume Lamarche to embark on an ambitious project. The old foundry of Charles Quirini-Goreux was transformed into an integrated factory, with the aim of manufacturing steam engines and other equipment, and the Société d’Ougrée prospered. The Lamarches were in charge of financial management and Brain had charge of technical matters.

In 1836, the Société Anonyme de la Fabrique de Fer was formed, with capital from the Banque de Belgique, with the aim of producing iron and machinery, iron ore mining, coal mining and copper and zinc rolling. They gradually acquired the most up to date equipment, including two coke blast furnaces, 16 puddling furnaces, a rolling mill, foundry, and six steam engines, to make cast iron, wrought iron and machinery. Products included rails for the new Belgian railways. With the transformation into a public limited company, Brain became the salaried Technical Director of the S. A. de la Fabrique de Fer d'Ougrée. Thus, Richard Brian, along with William Cockerill, made an important contribution to the industrial revolution in Wallonia.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Wallons marquants - Dictionnaire des Wallons - Richard Brain
  2. [2] Société anonyme d'Ougrée-Marihaye: Inventaire des archives de la Société anonyme d'Ougrée-Marihaye by Anne-Catherine Delvaux