Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Henry Deacon

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Henry Deacon (1822-1876), of Gaskell, Deacon and Co, chemical manufacturer and process developer

1822 July 30th. Born in London

c.1836 Apprenticed to J. Galloway and Sons; at the same time he was allowed by Michael Faraday, a family friend, to work in his laboratory at the Royal Institution of Great Britain

When J. Galloway and Sons failed, Deacon's apprenticeship was transferred to Nasmyth, Gaskell and Co at Patricroft, Manchester.

1843 Letter re strength of boilers from Henry Deacon, then working for Pilkington Brothers

1848 Appointed manager of Pilkington Brothers at St Helens

John Hutchinson attracted Deacon to Widnes to manage his new chemical works but this did not last long

1853 Deacon set up his own chemical works at Widnes with William Pilkington (presumably this one - there were several), the younger of his employers at St Helens, to make carbonate of soda.

1855 After Pilkington withdrew from the business, Deacon was joined by his old employer Holbrook Gaskell to manufacture alkali, as Deacon and Co, later Gaskell, Deacon and Co. His attempts to produce an ammonia soda process, that would be improvement on the Leblanc process, did not succeed before the money ran out. Instead a Leblanc plant was installed.

About 1867, as the Leblanc process generated quantities of hydrochloric acid, Deacon, assisted by Ferdinand Hurter, sought a better way to clean up the process. They developed a means by which the by-product, hydrochloric acid, was converted to marketable chlorine and bleaching powder.

1870 Deacon's new process proved successful; it used a cheaper catalyst (copper chloride) and recovered more chlorine than other methods; it remained industrially important for five decades, though its adoption was initially delayed because of its complexity. This proved to be an important contribution to the survival of the Leblanc soda process.

He produced many more patents.

1876 Died at Widnes.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • Some founders of the chemical industry, J Fenwick Allen [1]