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British Industrial History

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Henry Snowden Rowell

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Henry Snowden Rowell (1885-1952)

1926 Director of Research, Research Association of British Motor and Allied Manufacturers

1952 Obituary [1]

"HENRY SNOWDEN ROWELL, O.B.E., D.Sc., Wh.Sc., was born in 1885 at Newcastle upon Tyne and was educated at Elswick Institute and Rutherford College until 1906. He then entered the Royal College of Science, South Kensington, where he obtained his Associateship and also a Whitworth Scholarship. His practical training was obtained at the Elswick Works of Sir W. G. Armstrong-Whitworth and Company, Ltd., and he subsequently did post-graduate work at the National Physical Laboratory. He then studied for two years at the Universities of Gottingen and Berlin.

From 1912 to 1914 he was lecturer in engineering at Leeds University and during the 1914-18 war he served in the Royal Artillery in Egypt, Gallipoli, and France. In 1916 he was transferred to Woolwich Arsenal, where he was Assistant Superintendent in the Laboratory. In 1917 he was appointed Deputy Director of Armament Production at the Admiralty with the rank of Hon. Capt., Royal Marines. He was also appointed O.B.E. During 1919-20 he served as manager of the light engineering department at the Elswick works of Sir W. G. Armstrong Whitworth and Company, Ltd., and from there he was appointed director of research and secretary of the recently formed Research Association of British Motor and Allied Manufacturers, which can be considered as the ancestor of the present Motor Industry Research Association. During this period at the Research Association his main personal interests were in the theory of automobile suspension and in fatigue studies on laminated springs. He left the Research Association in 1929 to go to the British Dardelet Threadlock Co and later joined John I. Thornycroft and Company, Ltd., as chief engineer, remaining until 1934, when he took an appointment at the War Office.

In 1939 he joined Armstrong Siddeley Motors, Ltd., becoming director and general manager, and retiring in 1945. He died on 11th November 1951 at the age of sixty-six. Dr. Bowen had a strong personality and pronounced views, which not infrequently led him into controversy with giants of the profession such as Lanchester and Ricardo, but his sincerity and integrity were unquestioned. He had an originality of approach to most problems, influenced strongly by his undoubted mathematical abilities and yet he always seemed to have time for the little details of research. Ills work undoubtedly had great influence on the progress of British automobile engineering and his passing means the loss of a gout matt and true, whose efforts were consistently devoted to the development and progress of the industry, to its lasting benefit." C. G. Williams, D.Sc., B.Sc., M.I.Mech.E.

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