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Charles Lowthian Bell

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Charles Lowthian Bell (1855-1906) of Bell Brothers

of Clarence Iron Works, Middlesbrough

1861 Isaac Lowthian Bell, magistrate, alderman, chemical manufacturer, iron master, lived in Chester-Le-Street, with M Bell 40, M F Bell 13, M K Bell 12, A P Bell 10, C L Bell 6[1]

1906 Obituary [2]

CHARLES LOWTHIAN BELL, was the second son of the late Sir Lowthian Bell, and was born at Washington Hall, the seat of his father near Durham, on 24th March 1855.

He was educated first at a preparatory school at The Mount, Northallerton, and subsequently at Wellington College. After leaving Wellington he proceeded to Paris and continued his studies at the Ecole des Mines, whence he went to the well-known works of Schneider and Co., at Le Creusot, where he remained about a couple of years.

He then returned to England, and, after occupying various subordinate positions in the firm of Messrs. Bell Brothers, he undertook the management of the furnaces at Walker-on-Tyne in the year 1881.

Three years later he removed to Clarence as Assistant Manager under Mr. John Thompson. On the death of this gentleman in 1887 he became manager of the Clarence Works, and under his superintendence the whole arrangements were re-modelled, Cowper firebrick stoves being substituted for pipe stoves, and the blowing machinery and boiler plant entirely reconstructed to permit the utilization of the waste heat for the manufacture of salt.

In addition to these important changes, a by-product coke-oven plant was erected by Messrs. Bell Brothers in conjunction with the German Actien-Gesellschaft fur Kohlendestillation, the elaborate arrangements for sorting and washing the coal required for this plant being planned by him. He remained in charge of the Clarence Works until 1904. Shortly before his father's death in December of that year he decided to resign his position and to take a less active part in the management though he remained a director of the Company.

Following in the footsteps of his father, he paid numerous visits to ironworks abroad, both in Europe and America, accompanying his father on one of his visits to the latter country.

On the flotation of Messrs. Bell Brothers, Limited, in 1899, as a public company he and Mr. W. H. Panton paid another visit to America to study the processes of steel manufacture in that country, and they also visited various works in Europe for the same purpose. The information then acquired was utilized in designing the steel plant at Clarence.

Already in 1886 the attention of Sir Lowthian Bell and his partners had been turned in the direction of the manufacture of steel from Cleveland iron, and a small plant had been erected under designs, in the preparation of which Mr. C. L. Bell took a large part. A considerable quantity of steel was produced at this establishment, but circumstances prevented the project being carried forward and for some years the works lay idle.

In 1898, by arrangement with Messrs. Dorman, Long and Co., experiments which the latter firm had begun at Rosebery Steel Works, near Middlesbrough, were continued at the works at Clarence, put at the disposal of the firm by Sir Lowthian Bell and his sons. Under the direct supervision of Mr. W. H. Panton, assisted by Mr. C. L. Bell, a series of experiments resulted in a satisfactory solution of the problem, the flotation of the firm as a public company and the erection of the present important plant at Clarence being the direct results of these operations.

Over and above the many activities he displayed in connection with the Works at Clarence (where not only the Iron Works, but also the Salt Works and Soda Works until they were sold to the Salt Union, and Messrs. Brunner, Mond and Co., respectively, were under his control), he took an active part in the volunteer Movement. He joined the North Riding Volunteer Artillery in 1874 and took command of the Corps in 1895 as Lieutenant-Colonel, becoming a year later the Honorary Colonel, resigning his command in 1902 on reaching the age limit.

During the South African War he was the means of raising and equipping two Colt-gun detachments and of sending out 400 men for the Imperial Yeomanry. He was for some time a member of the Middlesbrough Town Council, serving the office of Mayor in the year 1893, when he welcomed the Members of this Institution on the occasion of their Summer Meeting; and he was for many years an active member of the Stockton Board of Guardians. He was on the Commission of the Peace for the North Riding and for the County of Durham, and also for the Borough of Middlesbrough.

His death took place at his residence near Middlesbrough, after a very short illness, on 8th February 1906, in his fifty-first year.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1885.

1906 Obituary [3]

CHARLES LOWTHIAN BELL, who died on February 8, 1906, was one of the leaders of the Cleveland iron trade. He was a director of Bell Brothers, and, until 1905, the manager of the Clarence Iron Works. He was the second son of the late Sir Lowthian Bell, Bart., past-president, and was born at Washington, near Durham, in March 1855.

He was educated at Wellington College, and afterwards continued his technical studies at the School of Mines, Paris, and also in Germany. His practical work was carried on at the Clarence Iron Works, Middlesbrough, under the late Mr. John Thompson, and he succeeded that gentleman as manager on his death in 1888. Under his superintendence the works were remodelled. He also superintended the erection of the Clarence Steel Works, and was closely connected with the steel-making experiments that were carried on by Messrs. Bell Brothers with a view of producing steel from Cleveland iron.

He took particular interest in the firm's salt trade, and also in the manufacture of soda.

He was an enthusiastic volunteer, attaining the rank of Colonel, and receiving the volunteer decoration. He was at one time a member of the Middlesbrough Corporation, and was Mayor of the town in 1892. He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1876. He contributed to the proceedings a paper on the "Manufacture of Coke in the Hussener Oven."

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