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Charles Cochrane

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Charles Cochrane (1835-1898) of Cochrane and Co and the Woodside Ironworks and Foundry

1835 Born in Blackbrook, near Dudley. His father, Alexander Brodie Cochrane, was the owner of Woodside Iron Works, near Dudley.

He left school at the age of 15, and although too young to be admitted as a student of Kings College, London, he was given permission to attend college classes.

Upon leaving college he gained practical experience with Samuel Holden Blackwell, owner of Russell's Hall Iron Works, near Dudley, and other blast-furnaces, mills and forges.

At the age of 20 he went to work at Cochrane and Co the Ormesby Iron Works which had recently been established by his father. The following year he became a partner with his father in these works and the Woodside Iron Works.

He became one of the leading authorities on blast furnaces, and was equally recognized in the United States.

The Woodside Iron Works was also associated with many important structures, including the Holborn Viaduct, Westminster Bridge, Cannon Street Railway Bridge and Station, Charing Cross Railway Bridge and Station, and the Runcorn Bridge over the Mersey. They also removed the Hungerford Suspension Bridge over the Thames and re-erected it as the Clifton Suspension Bridge at Bristol.

1858 of Ormesby Iron Works, Middlebro'-on-Tees.[1]

1875 With his brother Joseph Bramah Cochrane he took charge of the partnership of Cochrane and Co at Woodside Ironworks.

In 1889 he was elected President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers

1898 May 11th. Died.


1898 Obituary [2]

CHARLES COCHRANE was born on 3rd May 1835 at Blackbrook near Dudley, being the eldest son of Mr. Alexander Brodie Cochrane, the principal proprietor of the Woodside Iron Works, near Dudley (Proceedings 1864, page 13).

At the age of fifteen, after having been educated at a private school at Wilmslow in Cheshire, and while still too young to be admitted a student at King's College, London, he was nevertheless allowed to attend the college classes. There, besides a sound technical engineering education, he acquired under Professor Tennant the interest in geology which he maintained and utilised through life.

On leaving college he spent some time in gaining practical experience under Mr. Samuel Holden Blackwell, the proprietor of the Russell's Hall Iron Works, near Dudley, and of other blast-furnaces, mills, and forges in the neighbourhood of Dudley and Bilston (Proceedings 1869, page 15).

In 1855 he went for five years to the Ormesby Iron Works, Middlesbrough, then recently established by his father's firm; and on attaining the age of twenty-one he became a partner with his father in these works as well as in the Woodside Iron Works.

On his father's death in 1863 he became joint owner of both these works with his brothers, as well as of their New Brancepeth Collieries in the county of Durham. On blast-furnaces he achieved the position of one of the greatest authorities, and was so recognised in the United States as much as in this country.

To this Institution he contributed no less than nine papers on blast-furnace working and other subjects associated therewith, commencing in 1860 with a description of the method of taking off the waste gases from one of the Ormesby blast-furnaces with closed top and charging bell. As an original investigator and pioneer in blast-furnace economy he succeeded in establishing the soundness of his advanced views by the results of practical working.

The ultimate success of the regenerative firebrick hot-blast stoves, embodying the principle originated by Sir William Siemens and developed in this direction by Mr. Edward A. Cowper, was largely due to his practical experience, and to his perseverance in making careful trial of the plan and maturing the details involved in its adoption.

Having become a Member of this Institution in 1858, he was elected a Member of Council as early as 1864, and a Vice-President as early as 1872; and having exerted himself zealously in the interests of the Institution while the headquarters were in Birmingham, he did not permit their removal to London in 1877 to diminish his activity in furtherance of its welfare.

In 1889 he was elected President; and during the year of his presidency he devoted himself unsparingly to the duties of the office, thereby increasing the regret felt by the members that his own health, with his anxiety for that also of his son, precluded his continuing President for a second year. His presidency was signalised not merely by an address of remarkable originality and comprehensive scope (Proceedings 1889, page 208), but also by the last of his admirable series of blast-furnace papers (page 589), in which he presented the successful results of his own latest blast-furnace practice with lime instead of limestone as flux.

As a single illustration of the versatility of his mind, perhaps no better instance could be quoted, apart from his presidential address in 1889, than the concise and apposite remarks he made when presiding at the Paris meeting in the same year, upon so abstruse a subject as the rationalization of Regnault's experiments on steam, in connection with Mr. J. Macfarlane Gray's able elaboration of the theta-phi or temperature-entropy chart (Proceedings 1889, pages 451-2).

Among the large structures emanating from the Woodside Iron Works during his association therewith may be mentioned in London the Holborn Viaduct, Westminster Bridge, Cannon Street Railway Bridge and Station, and Charing Cross Railway Bridge and Station.

His firm also erected for the London and North Western Railway the Runcorn Bridge over the Mersey; and they removed the Hungerford Suspension Bridge over the Thames, and re-erected it as the Clifton Suspension Bridge at Bristol, strengthening it as required for its new position.

It was to the Iron and Steel Institute, of which also he was a member, that his final paper on the relative merits of limestone and limo in blast-furnace practice was contributed, and discussed in his absence on 6th May 1898, when he was already on his death-bed after an illness confining him to the house from the commencement of the year.

His death took place on 11th May 1898 at his residence, Green Royde, Pedmore, near Stourbridge, at the age of sixty-three. In the movement for the incorporation of Dudley he took an active part, and was a member of the first town council, and second mayor of the borough in 1866; and to the educational and other public interests of the district he devoted much time and energy. He was a justice of the peace for the counties of Worcester and Stafford; chairman of Cochrane and Co., and of Cochrane, Grove and Co.; and a partner in Cochrane and Co., Woodside Iron Works, Dudley.


1898 Obituary [3]

CHARLES COCHRANE died at his residence at Pedmore, near Stourbridge, on May 11, 1898, at the age of sixty-three. The eldest son of the late Alexander Brodie Cochrane, who took a leading part during the middle of the century in developing the Midland iron trade, he carried on after his father's death the Woodside Ironworks, one of the most noted in South Staffordshire.

He was educated at King's College, London, and began his business career with Mr. Samuel Blackwell, the well-known South Staffordshire ironmaster.

In 1855 he went to the Ormesby Ironworks, Middlesbrough, and in 1860 he returned to reside in South Staffordshire. He was a partner in both the Middlesbrough and South Staffordshire firms of Cochrane & Co.

He became a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1858, and two years later read the first of the memorable series of papers on the metallurgy of iron which extended over a period of thirty-eight years.

In 1889 he became President of the Institution. In addition to his Presidential address, the memoirs he contributed to the Proceedings of that body have the following titles:—

(1.) A description of a method of taking off the waste gases from blast-furnaces, 1860;

(2.) On the working and capacity of blast-furnaces, 1864;

(3.) On the further utilisation of the waste gas from blast-furnaces, and on the economy of coke due to increased capacity of furnaces, 1868;

(4.) On the further economy of fuel in blast-furnaces derivable from the high temperature of blast obtained with Cowper's improved regenerative stoves at Ormesby, and from increased capacity of furnace, 1870;

(5.) On steam-boilers with small water space, 1871;

(6 and 7.) On the ultimate capacity of blast-furnace, 1875 and 1876;

(8.) On the working of blast-furnaces of large size at high temperatures of blast, with special reference to the position of the tuyeres, 1882;

(9.) On the working of blast-furnaces, with special reference to the analysis of the escaping gases, 1883;

(10.) On the results of blast-furnace practice with lime instead of limestone as flux, 1889.

This list of papers represents the chief work of Mr. Cochrane's life. He contributed to the Proceedings of other societies, and some of his speeches in the discussions of papers read before the Iron and Steel Institute were weighty contributions to the literature of metallurgy.

His last paper was communicated to the Iron and Steel Institute four days before his death, and is printed in this volume. He was one of the original members of the Iron and Steel Institute, and in 1884 he was elected a member of Council.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Institution of Mechanical Engineers