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Thomas John Bewick

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Thomas John Bewick (1821-1897)

1856 Birth of son Thomas Burrell Bewick

1891 Living at 16 Iddesleigh Mansions, Palmer Street, Westminster: Thomas J. Bewick (age 69 born Bywell, Northumberland), Civil and Mining Engineer - Widower. Five servants.[1]

1898 Obituary [2]

THOMAS JOHN BEWICK was born in Northumberland on the 28th October, 1821. He resided for many years in his native county, where he received his education, and was in 1837 articled to the late Thomas Sopwith, F.R.S., well known as one of the most capable engineers in the north of England. Mr. Bewick's connection with that gentleman continued for nearly thirty years, during which period he was associated with a large number of mining and other undertakings.

As early as 1842, as also during later years, he was engaged in making models of coal and lead mines, illustrative of the geological conditions and characteristics of mineral deposits, and explanatory of the methods of working them. In this particular his work was of a specially noteworthy character in its connection with the Forest of Dean coalfield, Ebbw Vale and other coal and iron mines, and the Hudgill Burn and adjacent lead mines in the north of England.

From 1844 to 1846, when this country was in the throes of the railway mania, Mr. Bewick was employed in connection with several important railway projects in the north of England and elsewhere. When the excitement had subsided, he accepted the post of Chief Engineer to the W. B. Lead Mines - owned by Mr. W. B. Beaumont - at that time one of the largest undertakings of that description in Northumberland and Durham, and his connection therewith continued uninterruptedly until the close of 1865. Under his supervision hydraulic machinery on the Armstrong system, for pumping, winding, crushing, and other purposes, was erected at the mines. It may be mentioned that the mountainous character of the Allendale and Weardale districts largely favoured the application of hydraulic power, and by the arrangement of watercourses, and storage and other reservoirs designed by Mr. Bewick, and carried out under his direction, the power derivable from water stored at a high elevation was utilized with efficiency and economy. He also determined the course and carried out the engineering details of the "Blackett Level," a tunnel 7 miles in length, driven for the purpose of draining the Allendale Mines and exploring the lower portion of that mineral district. With a view of accelerating its completion, it was attacked at five different points - at four by means of vertical shafts, at each of which the pumping of the water and the winding of the material were effected by the utilization of the water flowing down the River Allen. This water was thus applied after it had been used for the hydraulic and other engines at Allenhead, at the most elevated shaft, from which it flowed through watercourses to each successive shaft below, for a distance of 5 to 6 miles. At three of the shafts the Armstrong accumulator principle was applied, the first motive power being derived from ordinary water-wheels, with suitable machinery for raising the accumulator weight, and from this accumulator the water was conducted in pipes to the cylinders of the pumping and other engines, having a pressure of 700 lbs. to the square inch.

In 1865 Mr. Bewick became Engineer of the Hexham and Allendale Railway, a short line constructed with the object of opening up the country between Hexham on the North Eastern Railway system and the Allendale district, the latter being the principal seat of the manufacture of the lead obtained from Mr. W. B. Beaumont’s extensive mines at Allenhead and Weardale. This railway was subsequently constructed under Mr. Bewick‘s direction, and was at a later date absorbed in the main system of the North Eastern Railway Company.

From 1866 until recently, Mr. Bewick was continuously engaged in reporting upon and advising in connection with mining properties in this country, as well as on the Continent, whilst he was also frequently called upon to give evidence before Parliamentary Committees on waterworks, and in mining and other arbitration cases.

In 1868 Mr. Bewick acquired a lease of the minerals in Langley Barony, Northumberland, a portion of what at that time was known as the Greenwich Hospital Estate, extending over an area of many square miles. These he for a time privately developed, and, subsequently, the enterprise was formed into a limited liability company, several well-known Northumbrians being allied with him in connection therewith. This undertaking was carried on for many years under the title of "Bewick and Partners, Ltd.,” yielding for a considerable time large returns of lead ore, and attended with much financial success. The winding, pumping and dressing machinery in use at these mines was of a most substantial and complete character.

The same Company established lead smelting works at Hebburn, near Newcastle-on-Tyne, which were designed, erected and carried on under Mr. Bewick’s supervision.

For many years Mr. Bewick had been well known in mining circles in London; but it was more recently that his name became prominently associated with mining ventures, by his joining forces with his old pupil, Mr. C. Algernon Moreing, and establishing a partnership as Consulting Mining Engineers and Managers of Mines, in London, under the style of Bewick and Moreing.

At a subsequent period Mr. Edward Hooper and Mr. T. Burrell Bewick, both old pupils of Mr. Bewick, were admitted partners in the firm, which is now known as Bewick, Moreing and Co., with branches at Coolgardie and Cue, Western Australia, Auckland, New Zealand, and Vancouver, British Columbia.

Mr. Bewick was a director of several companies, amongst which may be mentioned the Montana Mining Co., Ltd., which for many years was most successful. Latterly, however, owing to failing health, he withdrew from many of the companies with which he was associated.

He was a Vice-President of the North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers, in the proceedings of which he took an active part. He was also a Fellow of the Geological Society. He was prominently associated with the Newcastle Exhibition of 1887, and also took Considerable interest in the Exhibitions which were held at South Kensington.

It was not until the beginning of 1897 that Mr. Bewick would allow himself to be released from the cares of business ; but in the spring of that year, feeling that he was no longer able to take the active part therein to which he had been accustomed, he reluctantly made up his mind to go into retirement, leaving the conduct of the firm in the hands of the partners above referred to. It is to be regretted that after a period of sixty years of active business life, he should have been spared so short a time to enjoy a well-earned rest.

He died at the residence of his son, at Putney, on the 29th August, 1897, within a few weeks of the completion of his seventy-sixth year.

Mr. Bewick was elected a Member on the 7th March, 1865.

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