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British Industrial History

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Richard Howson

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1870. Puddling furnace at Fox, Head and Co. Designed alongside John Gjers and J. A. Jones.

Richard Howson (1821-1911)

1912 Obituary [1]

RICHARD HOWSON, born at Giggleswick in Craven on the 3rd February, 1821, died at Middlesbrough on the 2nd August, 1911 aged 90.

He was apprenticed to Messrs. Nasmyth and Gaskell, for whom he erected steam-hammers in Sweden and elsewhere.

Subsequently he was Manager of Messrs. J. Stevenson and Company’s works at Preston, where he substituted the vertical for the beam blowing-engine for blast-furnaces.

He then became Engineer to the Newport Ironworks, Middlesbrough, and afterwards took up consulting work. He designed and built a number of blast-furnaces and steelworks, and patented, with Mr. S. Godfrey, a puddling-furnace.

Mr. Howson was elected a Member of The Institution on the 1st May, 1888.

1911 Obituary [2]

RICHARD HOWSON died on August 2, 1911, at Middlesbrough. He was born at Giggleswick, in Craven, on February 3, 1821, and was educated at Giggleswick Grammar School, where his father, the Rev. John Howson, for over forty years held the position of second master.

In 1839 he was apprenticed to Messrs. Nasmyth & Gaskell, the well-known firm of engineers, inventors of the steam-hammer, and for four years Richard Howson was chiefly engaged on work connected with the design and development of that appliance. In 1843 the firm completed an order for a large hammer for Sweden, which was the first to be exported from this country, and Howson was sent to Sweden to superintend the erection and putting into operation of the machine, and remained in that country for a few years in the capacity of draughtsman.

In 1848, the disastrous year of revolution for all Europe, he returned to England, where the railway mania had just come to an end, in consequence of which the iron trade had lapsed into absolute stag nation. He again found employment for several years as draughtsman, after which he proceeded to the Crimea, where he spent two years in manufacturing projectiles. On his return to England he was engaged as manager at the Canal Foundry of Messrs. John Stevenson and Company of Preston, and for three years turned his attention to the introduction of blowing-engines of vertical construction to replace the old-fashioned beam-engines then in general use.

The considerable success achieved by him in this work led to an invitation on the part of the late Sir Bernhard Samuelson, in 1865, to accept the position of consulting engineer to the Newport Ironworks at Middlesbrough, where he designed and directed blast-furnaces which have continued to maintain their efficiency down to the present day.

After several years spent in the exclusive service of the Newport Works, he opened a private practice, retaining, however, the position of consulting engineer at Newport and Ferryhill. During the time of his connection with Newport he travelled in Austria, Italy, France, Canada, and the United States, for the purpose of gaining information on modern developments in those countries, which formed the subject of reports by him to Messrs. Samuelson & Company.

In conjunction with the late Mr. Samuel Godfrey he designed and patented a revolving puddling furnace, mechanically rotated, which proved in practice to be the most satisfactory mechanical puddler yet invented. Owing, however, to the introduction of the Bessemer process about the same time, the machine did not come into general use.

It is also of interest to add that Mr. Howson's grandfather, Thomas Howson, was associated in business with the inventor of the puddling and rolling process, Henry Cort, who was also related to him by marriage.

Mr. Richard Howson was one of the original members of the Iron and Steel Institute, and at the first meeting of the Institute, held at Middlesbrough in September 1869, he contributed a paper entitled "The Siemens-Martin Process of Manufacturing Cast Steel." He was also a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and during 1886-1887 was President of the Cleveland Institute of Engineers, the subject of his Presidential Address to that body being "The Conservation of Force and some of its Possibilities." He was a member of the Darlington Reception Committee in 1893, and the Middlesbrough Reception Committee in 1908, on the occasion of the visits of the Iron and Steel Institute to those towns respectively.

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