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British Industrial History

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Thomas Swinden

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Thomas Swinden (1886-1944), Director of Research of the United Steel Companies

1943/44 Obituary [1]

Thomas Swinden was born in 1886 and educated at Sheffield Central Secondary School and at Firth College, Sheffield. He studied metallurgy in the University of Sheffield, gaining an Associateship in Metallurgy and also a scholarship, which enabled him to attend the Universities of Stockholm and Upsala.

On his return he re-entered Sheffield University and obtained the degree of Bachelor of Metallurgy in 2908, the degree of M.Met. a year later, and in 1913 he was made a Doctor of Metallurgy.

After some experience in consulting practice he was appointed Chief Chemist to Samuel Fox and Co. He subsequently became Chief Metallurgist and later Works Manager and a Director.

In 1932 he relinquished the position of Works Manager to take up that of Director of Research of the United Steel Companies. Following his early pioneer work on the thermal, mechanical, electrical, and magnetic properties of molybdenum steels, he conducted researches on tungsten steels, pyrometry, open-hearth steel furnace practice, etc., and was responsible for investigations into the properties of cold-rolled steel and the control of grain size in steel.

He died suddenly on 27th October, 1944, at the age of 58.

He was elected a Member in 1930.

1944 Obituary [2]

The death of Dr. Thomas Swinden, Director of Research of the United Steel Companies, Ltd., occurred suddenly on October 27, 1944, at the Stocksbridge Works of Messrs. Samuel Fox and Company, Ltd. He had only recently begun to resume activity after a six-months' rest that was enforced by his heavy duties during the war years.

Thomas Swinden was born at Sheffield in 1886 and was educated at the Central Secondary School and University there. He obtained on Associateship in Metallurgy in 1905 and was Mappin Medallist and a City and Guilds Bronze Medallist. Subsequently he won the 1851 Exhibition Scholarship for the years 1906-08.

From 1909 to 1913 he was a Carnegie Research Scholar and won the Carnegie Gold Medal. He graduated B.Met. in 1907, M.Met. in 1908, and D.Met. in 1913.

After some experience with Dr. Percy Longmuir in consulting practice, Dr. Swinden joined Samuel Fox and Company, Ltd., in 1909 as chief chemist, subsequently becoming chief metallurgist and later works manager and Director.

In 1932 he was appointed Director of Research of the United Steel Companies, Ltd., a position for which he was eminently suited by virtue of his combination of scientific bias and training with practical experience in the laboratory, in works management, and in steelmaking. The Central Research Department at Stocksbridge, which was his headquarters, was one of the finest and best equipped industrial laboratories in the country, and many important contributions to the science and technology of steelmaking emanated from it.

Dr. Swinden retained his directorship of Samuel Fox and Company, Ltd. (an associate of the United Steel Companies, Ltd.), and at the time of his death he was also a director of the Distington Hematite Iron Company, Ltd., and of British Magnesite Corporation, Ltd.

Following upon his early pioneer work on tungsten and molybdenum steels, Dr. Swinden made very many distinguished contributions to scientific and technical literature. These earned for him the Bessemer Gold Medal of the Iron and Steel Institute, the M. C. James Gold Medal of the North East Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders, and the Silver Medal of the Institution of Marine Engineers.

Dr. Swinden's activities in connection with scientific bodies, research organizations, and committees were manifold. He was a Vice-President of the Iron and Steel Institute and of the Institute of British Foundrymen; a member of the Iron and Steel Industrial Research Council; and a member of many joint committees of the British Iron and Steel Federation and the Iron and Steel Institute, of some of which he was Chairman. He was one of the founder members and a member of Council of the new British Iron and Steel Research Association, which is to undertake the reorganization of co-operative research in the iron and steel industry.

Other work included the Chairmanship of the Open-Hearth Refractories Joint Panel of the British Iron and Steel Federation and the British Refractories Research Association; member of Council of the British Refractories Research Association; Vice-President of the Refractories Section of the Ceramic Society; member of the B.R.R.A. Blast Furnace Refractories Panel; member of Council and of the Research Council of the Institute of Welding and Chairman of the Weldability of Ferrous Metals Committee, as well as of the Committee on Physical Metallurgy of Alloy Steel Welding; Chairman of the Alloy Steels Association Technical Committee; Vice-President of the British Cast Iron Research Association; member of the J/E Sub-Committee on Steels for High Temperatures and Creep Properties of the British Electrical and Allied Industries Research Association; member of the Open-Hearth Committee, of the Rolling Mill Committee and the Rolling Mill Research Sub-Committee of the British Iron and Steel Federation; member of the Research Committee and of the Pressed Steel Research Committee, of the Institution of Automobile Engineers; Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and of the Institute of Physics; Past-President of the Sheffield Metallurgical Society and of the Society of Engineers and Metallurgists.

For a number of years, Dr. Swinden was a member of Council of Sheffield University, as well as several of its Committees, including the Appointments Board. He was also a Freeman of the Cutlers' Company. A considerable amount of time was spent by Dr. Swinden in connection with the many Committees of the British Standards Institution, of which he was also a Council member, whilst his war-time activities included membership or chairmanship of more than a dozen Ministry of Supply and other Governmental Committees.

Dr. Swinden was one of this country's outstanding metallurgists and his death, is a severe loss not only to his firm but to ferrous metallurgy throughout the world.

He had been a member of the Institute of Metals since 1923.

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