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Charles Markham

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Charles Markham (1823-1888) of Markham and Co.

1856 Locomotive Department of the Midland Railway

1868 Patent to Charles Markham and William Knighton, of the Staveley Coal and Iron Works, near Chesterfield, in the county of Derby, Engineers, have given the like notice in respect of the invention of "improvements in apparatus for moulding pipes and other cylinders."[1]



1888 Obituary [2]

CHARLES MARKHAM, J.P., of Tapton House, Chesterfield, was born at Northampton on 1st March 1823, being the seventh child of Mr. Charles Markham, clerk of the peace for the county of Northampton, which office has been held by a member of the family for nearly a century.

After being educated at Oundle in Northamptonshire, he commenced his business career as manager of the Marquise Iron Works and Rolling Mills, near Boulogne, being a partner in this undertaking with Mr. James Morrison (1806-1878).

The revolution of 1848 having destroyed this industry, he returned to England and studied chemistry for twelve months under Professor Scoffern.

He then joined the engineering staff of the Great Eastern Railway, which position he relinquished upon receiving in 1851 the appointment of assistant locomotive superintendent on the Midland Railway, under Mr. Matthew Kirtley. It was here that he first came prominently before railway engineers, in connection with the introduction of coal as fuel in locomotives, instead of coke.

The difficulties to be surmounted were of two kinds firstly, raw coal when burnt by itself created a most offensive smoke, and the smoke-boxes were continually getting red-hot, in consequence of the small bits of coal being drawn through the tubes and firing in the smoke-box, thereby causing it to draw in air, and rendering it impossible to keep up the full pressure of steam; secondly, the ends of the tubes were soon eaten away by the intense heat in the fire-box, and had to be renewed in a very short time.

After a prolonged series of experiments he finally determined upon the brick arch, deflecting plate, and jet pipe; and this system has not since been materially altered or improved upon. In 1860 he read a paper before this Institution, giving a detailed account of his researches into this most important matter (Proceedings 1860, page 147), whereby he estimated that a saving of £50,000 per annum was effected on the locomotives then running on the Midland Railway.

He was also a great advocate for the reduction of railway fares, and materially assisted in bringing about the abolition of second-class carriages on the Midland Railway.

In 1864 he became the managing director of the Staveley Iron Works, near Chesterfield, previously belonging to Mr. John Barrow; this position he continued to hold to the time of his death. Under his management these works, from being comparatively a small undertaking, increased so as to be now one of the largest foundries in the country, capable of executing the most difficult class of foundry work.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1856; and in addition to the paper on coal burning in locomotives he contributed also a paper on Naylor's double-acting steam hammer (Proceedings 1857, page 233), and a description of a new safety coupling for railway wagons (Proceedings 1860, page 277).

After a severe illness of more than a year's duration, he died on 30th August 1888, in the sixty-sixth year of his age.


1889 Obituary [3][4]

. . . . he went to France, and became Manager of the Marquise Rolling Mills, between Calais and Boulogne. The Revolution of 1848 destroyed this industry, and Mr. Markham returned to England and studied chemistry for twelve months under Professor Scoffern. He then served a pupilage under John Hunter, on the Eastern Counties Railway, and in 1852 entered the service of the Midland Railway Company, as an Assistant in the Locomotive Department at Derby.

Here he rapidly rose, becoming Assistant Locomotive Superintendent under Matthew Kirtley. While occupying this position, Mr. Markham conducted a series of experiments on the use of coal in locomotive-engines, that led to the total disuse of coke in the engines of the Midland Company, whereby that undertaking was saved nearly £50,000 a-year. Other workers in the same field shared with him the honour of this great advance ; but Mr. Markham’s part in it was acknowledged to be a leading one, and his Paper, read before the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, marked a new era in locomotive practice.

In 1863 the Staveley Coal and Iron Co, which had been extensively developed by Richard Barrow, were transferred to a Limited Company. Mr. Markham accepted the post of Managing Director, and left Belper, where he had lived for some years, to take up his residence at Brimington Hall. . . . [more]


1888 Obituary [5]

MR. CHARLES MARKHAM, who died at his residence, Tapton House, Chesterfield, on the 30th August last, was born at Northampton on March 1st, 1823, being the seventh child of Mr. Charles Markham, Solicitor and Clerk of the Peace for the County of Northampton, where members of the family have been solicitors for over 200 years. He was educated at Oundle School, and subsequently at Edinburgh University.

He commenced his career in France as director of the Marquise. Iron Works and Rolling Mills, being a partner in the undertaking with the late Mr. James Morrison. The Revolution of 1848 prejudiced this enterprise, and Mr. Markham returned to England, and studied chemistry for twelve months with Professor Scoffern. He then joined the engineering staff of the South-Eastern Railway, which post he vacated upon receiving the appointment of Assistant Locomotive Superintendent on the Midland Railway under Mr. Matthew Kirtley. Mr. Markham took a prominent part in the substitution of coal for coke in locomotive firing, by his invention of the deflecting plate and a brick arch, both invariably used in locomotives of the present day. This invention is understood is to have effected a saving in fuel; its economy in the case of the Midland system alone having at one time been reported at £50,000 per annum. Mr. Markham read a paper upon this subject before the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1861.

Whilst at Derby, Mr. Markham formed an intimacy with the late Mr. Richard Barrow, and upon the ironworks and collieries at Staveley being transferred to a limited company in 1863, he accepted, through that gentleman, the position of managing director, which he held until his death. The manufacture of pipes has been very considerably extended under his management at Staveley, which has now one of the largest and best known pipe foundries in the world. Two small furnaces only were then in existence, but the works were remodelled and enlarged under Mr. Markham's guidance and supervision, until they now consist of eight blast-furnaces and several large shops, capable of producing the highest class of work. When the Staveley Company was formed, the colliery property was confined principally to the Duke of Devonshire's estate, but Mr. Markham acquired for the company the whole of the workable coalfields in the immediate neighbourhood, as well as extensive ironstone mines in Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, and Lincolnshire.

Mr. Markham was a director of the Bestwood Coal and Iron and other companies. In 1886 he contested the North-Eastern Division of Derbyshire, in the Unionist cause, at the request of many of his friends in the neighbourhood, and, although unsuccessful, he always recalled with satisfaction the fact that the great majority of the workmen employed by the Staveley Company had voted for him.

Mr. Markham was one of the original members of the Iron and Steel Institute. In 1877 he was elected a member of Council, and in 1881 he became a Vice-President. He took an active part in the affairs of the Institute, and frequently spoke in the discussion of papers on blast-furnace working and cognate matters. In 1881 he read a paper on experiments which he had made to determine certain physical properties of cast iron.

Mr. Markham was a member of several other learned societies, including the Institution of Civil Engineers and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.


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