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Frederick Braithwaite

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Frederick Braithwaite (1798-1865) of Braithwaite, Milner and Co

1838 Frederick Braithwaite, machine maker, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]


1867 Obituary [2]

Mr. FREDERICK BRAITHWAITE, who was born on the 20th of June, 1798, was the fourth son of the late Mr. John Braithwaite, the founder of the well-known manufacturing business in the New Road, London.

The early reputation of the firm was to some extent due to the ingenious and successful use of a diving-bell for raising the ‘Hartwell’ East Indiaman, lost off Bonavista, then the Spanish floating batteries at Gibraltar, and subsequently the sheet anchor of the ‘Royal George,’ and the whole of the freight of the ‘Abergavenny ’ Indiaman.

Frederick Braithwaite was educated at Lords Grammar School at Tooting, and first became more immediately connected with the profession and with mechanical engineering in 1837, when he succeeded his brother, Mr. John Braithwaite (M. Inst. C.E.), in the conduct of the engine factory, on the occasion of the latter being appointed Engineer-in-Chief to the Eastern Counties Railway; and, in partnership with the Messrs. Milner, he for several years carried on that establishment for the construction of steam engines and machinery, during which he designed and executed several important engineering works.

In the course of a long practice, a great number of wells, which had been sunk by the firm in and around London, remained under its supervision, and thus Mr. Frederick Braithwaite was led to give particular attention to all matters connected with the water-supply of the Metropolis. Among other cases he exemplified his views by a model of a well sunk by him in the year 1841, at Messrs. Reid’s brewery, the principal feature of which was a large chamber constructed in the chalk, whence there were driven lateral galleries in various directions to strike the water-bearing fissures, as had been done previously at Messrs. Meux’s brewery. On this, as on all similar occasions, he was personally most active, sharing the no slight risks of :those employed.

At a later period, basing his calculations mainly upon records, kept by his brother, Mr. John Braithwaite, since 1810, of the depths at which the underlying strata were struck, and from daily observations taken under his own direction for a number of years, he prepared an extensive series of sections; showing the actual configuration of the chalk stratum under London, contrary to the well-known theory of the late Dr. Buckland, who conceived the existence of a complete basin.

He also exhibited many ingenious diagrams, showing the gradual and steady decline of the water in the deep wells. For a Paper connected with this subject, 'On the Infiltration of Salt Water into the Springs of Wells under London and Liverpool' he received from the Institution of Civil Engineers a Council Premium of books, as well as for a subsequent Paper 'On the Rise and Fall of the River Wandle; its Springs, Tributaries, and Pollution.' He also contributed a Paper 'On the Fatigue and consequent Fracture of Metals,' and in general took an active part in many important discussions.

In 1848 he went to Lisbon, where he resided for a considerable time, in the endeavour to establish waterworks in that city ; and in 1850 he gave evidence before the Board of Health on the supply of water to the Metropolis.

He latterly devoted much of his time to questions concerning the preservation of iron-clad vessels, and became an Associate of the Institution of Naval Architects. He was a man of intelligence and of considerable attainments, and was much esteemed in private circles for his genial temper. He was well read in geology, chemistry, and other natural sciences, and possessed good perceptive faculties.

Mr. Braithwaite joined the Institution of Civil Engineers as an Associate, May 29th, 1838, and was transferred to the class of Members, March 11th, 1845. He served as an Associate of Council in the years 1842 and 1843, and took an active part in bringing about the limitation of the period for holding the office of President of the Institution. He died on the 27th of February, 1865, in the 68th year of his age.


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