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British Industrial History

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Francis Watkins Keen

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Francis Watkins Keen (c1864-1933) of the Patent Nut and Bolt Co and later GKN

son of Arthur Keen

1933 Obituary [1]

FRANCIS WATKINS KEEN was the second son of the late Mr. Arthur Keen, M.I.Mech.E., of Messrs. Guest, Keen and Nettlefolds.

He was born at Smethwick and educated at Clifton College.

He began his apprenticeship in 1883 at the West Bromwich Works of the Patent Nut and Bolt Company, founded by his father.

He then entered the works of Messrs. Bolckow, Vaughan and Company, Middlesbrough, but later returned to the Patent Nut and Bolt Company to take charge of the Stour Valley Works and was appointed managing director in 1895.

In 1900 this firm, together with the Dowlais Iron Company, became amalgamated with Messrs. Guest, Keen and Company, and Mr. Keen was appointed one of the first managing directors.

Two years later Messrs. Nettlefolds of Birmingham were also incorporated in the company and its present title adopted.

In 1918 he became deputy chairman and was responsible in many directions for the firm's progress and development.

He was elected a Graduate in 1883 and was transferred to Membership in 1889.

His death occurred at the age of 69 years on 14th April 1933.

1933 Obituary [2]

FRANCIS WATKINS KEEN died on April 14, 1933, at his home in Birmingham, at the age of sixty-nine.

He was born at Smethwick. In 1883 he was articled as a mechanical engineer and draughtsman to the Patent Nut & Bolt Co., Ltd., of which his father, the late Mr. Arthur Keen, was the founder. He then went to Messrs. Bolckow, Vaughan & Co., Ltd. of Middlesbrough, and later returned to take charge of the Stour Valley Works, West Bromwich, of the Patent Nut & Bolt Co., Ltd.

In 1895 he became a managing director of the company, and when, in 1900, this company, Guest & Co., and the Dowlais Iron Co. were amalgamated under the title of Guest, Keen & Co., Ltd., Mr. Keen was one of the first directors of the new concern.

In 1902, Nettlefolds, Ltd., were incorporated in the organisation, and the style of the company became Guest, Keen & Nettlefolds, Ltd.; in 1918, Mr. Keen was appointed a deputy-chairman, which position he retained to his death.

He was also a director of Messrs. Bayliss, Jones & Bayliss, Ltd., Messrs. John Garrington Sons, Ltd., Tarmac (South Wales), Ltd., and United Wire Works (Birmingham), Ltd.

He was a Justice of the Peace for Smethwick, and a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

He joined the Iron and Steel Institute in 1894.

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