Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 146,913 pages of information and 232,835 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
Alfred Upward (1824-1902)
1902 Obituary 
ALFRED UPWARD was born in London in 1824.
At a very early age he became associated with the Chartered Gas Co (now the Gas Light and Coke Company), and was subsequently appointed Engineer to that Company's City Stations at Brick Lane and Curtain Road.
During the 20 years Mr. Upward held that post he applied his inventive faculty, which was one of his marked characteristics, to improving a number of details in the large gas-generating plant under his care, two specially interesting cases being the successful application of the waste heat of furnaces to the heating of steam boilers, and his apparatus for drilling and tapping gas- or water-mains under pressure, which apparatus soon passed into general use. It is not possible within the limits of this notice to give details of that machine, which rapidly accomplished the making of a perfect service connection in mains under full pressure, without allowing even a momentary escape at any point of the operation.
The manufacture of gas at the Brick Lane and Curtain Road Stations and their general administration, alteration, repair and extension were conducted by him with great ability, latterly under circumstances of much local difficulty. Subsequently to his connection with the Chartered Gas Company,
Mr. Upward practised privately as a Consulting Engineer in Westminster until his retirement; during that time he designed numerous works for various districts and towns in the United Kingdom and abroad, in connection with which he visited Turkey, Russia, Italy, and North and South America. He was also Consulting Engineer to the [Windsor Royal Gas Co|Windsor Royal Gas Company]].
Mr. Upward preserved freshness and keenness of intellect to the end. Originality of mind, unlimited energy, extreme kindliness of disposition, and absolute straightforwardness in business matters, may be said to have been his chief characteristics. He was very successful in the management of large bodies of men, and had an unusual influence over them, arising no doubt from the fact that he never lost an opportunity of knowing them as individuals and of taking a real interest in them.
Two incidents in the course of Mr. Upward’s connection with the Gas Light and Coke Company which are specially interesting on account of the personal risk involved were the gas-holder fire in 1857 and the Wood Street fire in 1860. In both cases it was not merely a matter of superintending; what had to be accomplished was of such a special nature that it needed to be done personally.
The gas-holder fire was a very serious matter, on account of the danger to the entire Works. It was occasioned by one of the columns and part of a girder, struck by lightning in the severe storm of August, 1857, falling on the gas-holder itself and causing a large rent in the plates, from which the ignited gas issued in an enormous flame. Mr. Upward succeeded in getting this under by the application of quantities of damped boarding and wet sacking in constantly lessening circles, thus reducing the flame to final extinction.
In the Wood Street warehouse fire, which was occasioned by a gas explosion, Mr. Upward personally effected the escape of the entire staff by forcing a way through the roof. This warehouse had nothing to do with the Company's works, and Mr. Upward was merely called to the scene on account of the gas explosion which preceded the fire.
At various times Mr. Upward conducted a number of tests and experiments on fuel and gas production, and was one of the Associate Jurors (Class XXXI.) of the Exhibition of 1862.
He was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 2nd May, 1843, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 10th May, 1864. At the time of his death, which took place at 1 Mechlin Mansion, Brook Green, on the 29th March, 1902, Mr. Upward was tenth on the list of seniority of the Institution.