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William Henry Watkinson

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Professor William Henry Watkinson (1860-1932)

1889 Married Emma Crabtree

1911 Living at 15 Croxteth Road, Liverpool: William Henry Watkinson (age 50 born Keighley), University Professor - Engineering. With his wife Emma Watkinson (age 47 born Kidderminster) and their children; Gwendolen Watkinson (age 21 born Sheffield), Student; Arthur Stanley Watkinson (age 19 born Sheffield), Engineering Student; Hilda Muriel Watkinson (age 15 born Glasgow); and Geoffrey Leonel Watkinson (age 11 born Crookstown, Renf.). One visitor and two servants. [1]

1932 February 14th. Died

1932 Obituary [2]

Professor WILLIAM HENRY WATKINSON, M.Eng., Emeritus Professor in the University of Liverpool, was for twenty years Harrison Professor of Engineering and Director of the Walker Engineering Laboratories, and retired in 1925.

He commenced his engineering career at an early age in a Keighley mill, and later served an apprenticeship in the machine and tool-making departments of Messrs. P. Smith and Sons.

After further experience as a draughtsman with Messrs. Samuel Clayton and Company of Bradford and in the works of Messrs. Anderson and Munro of Glasgow, he entered the University of Glasgow to take a course in civil engineering. He attracted the notice of Sir William Thomson (afterwards Lord Kelvin) and later assisted him and Professor Fleeming Jenkin in the manufacture, testing, and laying of two of the Atlantic cables. On the conclusion of this work he became a lecturer at Glasgow Technical College and he also held a Thomson Research Scholarship. In 1886 he also obtained a Whitworth Scholarship.

In 1888 he was appointed lecturer in engineering and director of workshops at the Central Science School, Sheffield, and in 1893 returned to Glasgow as Professor of Engineering at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College. He was appointed Professor at Liverpool twelve years later.

Amongst Professor Watkinson's researches were notable investigations into combustion and heat transmission problems in connexion with the design of water-tube boilers, superheaters, and air-heaters.

He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1890, and was Chairman of the North Western Branch and Member of Council in 1928.

He died on 14th February 1932, at the age of 71.

1932 Obituary[3]


We regret to record the death of Professor William Henry Watkinson, which occurred at Bromborough on Sunday, February 14, at the age of 71. In his early days, as a pupil of Kelvin and Fleeming Jenkin, he was engaged in the manufacture, testing and laying of two of the Atlantic submarine cables, and during the latter part of his working life at Liverpool, was the prime mover in an effort which resulted in the building and equipment of the Harrison-Hughes Laboratories, and in the foundation of the Alexander Elder chair of Naval Architecture, and the Robert Rankin chair of Thermo-dynamics in the University of that city.

William Henry Watkinson was born at Keighley, Yorkshire, and after attending an elementary school, was for a period engaged as a half-timer in a mill in that town. Later on, he served his apprenticeship in the machine and tool-making departments of Messrs. P. Smith and Sons, and was then engaged as a draughts-man by Messrs. Samuel Clayton and Company, Bradford. In 1881, he went to Glasgow, where he obtained an appointment with Messrs. Anderson and Munro, and a year later entered Lord Kelvin’s (then Sir William Thomson) laboratory, where he continued his studies. It was during tins time that he was engaged on the submarine cable work to which allusion has already been made, and on its conclusion he became a lecturer to the Honours classes in Engineering at the Glasgow Technical College, a branch of work with which he was connected for the rest of his life. During this time, he held the Thomson Research Scholarship and obtained a Whitworth Scholarship in 1886.

In 1888, he was appointed lecturer in Engineering and Director of Workshops at the Central Schools, Sheffield, and in 1893 again returned to Glasgow as Professor of Engineering at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical School. After holding this position for twelve years, he was, following Dr. j Hele-Shaw, appointed Harrison Professor of Engineering and Direotor of the Walker Engineering Laboratories in the University of Liverpool, retaining these appointments until his retirement with the rank of Emeritus Professor about six years ago. In addition to the work we have already mentioned, Professor Watkinson conducted a number of researches into the problems of combustion and the transmission of heat, and carried out investigations on the design of water-tube boilers, superheaters, and air-heaters, the results of which were embodied in papers which he read before the Institution of Naval Architects and other bodies. He was also associated with pioneer work on gas engines.

Professor Watkinson was elected a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1890, and had served on the Council as Chairman of the North-Western Branch. He was also a past-president of the Liverpool Engineering Society and had served on its council for 21 years."

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