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Henry Fowler

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1927. Sir Henry Fowler (1870–1938).
Institution of Automobile Engineers President 1920-21.
1932.

Sir Henry Fowler (1870-1938) was a Chief Mechanical Engineer of the Midland Railway and subsequently the London, Midland and Scottish Railway.

1870 July 29th. Born in Evesham, Worcestershire to Henry Fowler who was a furniture dealer, and his family were Quakers.

He was educated at Prince Henry's High School, Evesham, and at Mason Science College, Birmingham between 1885 and 1887 where he studied metallurgy. He served an apprenticeship under John Aspinall at the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (L&YR)'s Horwich Works from 1887 to 1891. He then spent four years in the Testing Department under George Hughes, whom he succeeded as Head of the Department.

Between 1895 and 1900 he was Gas Engineer of the L&YR, moving in June 18, 1900 to the Midland Railway (MR). On November 1, 1905 he became Assistant Works Manager, being promoted to Works Manager two years later. In 1909 he succeeded Richard Deeley as Chief Mechanical Engineer (CME) of the MR.

Between 1915 and 1919 Fowler was employed on war work at Factory Superintendent with the Royal Aircraft Factory and James Anderson became acting CME.

1918. He left the Royal Aircraft Factory and became Assistant Director of Aircraft Production under Sir William Weir.

In 1920, Fowler was knighted for his contributions to the war effort.

The Royal Scot, built under Fowler's direction for use on the West Coast Main Line between London and Glasgow. Photographed prior to its tour of the USA in 1933.

In 1923 on the Grouping, he was appointed deputy CME of the newly-formed London, Midland and Scottish Railway (LMS), under George Hughes and became CME in October 1925.

Along with Anderson, Fowler was responsible for the adoption by the LMS of the Midland's small engine policy. Various Midland standard types were built by the LMS, including the 4P Midland Compound 4-4-0, the 2P 4-4-0, the 4F 0-6-0, and the 3F 0-6-0T. The small engine policy resulted in frequent double-heading, as the locomotives were not powerful enough to cope with loads, and thus increased expense. Standardisation also left these standard locomotives with short-travel valves and small axle boxes, the former leading to inefficiency and the latter to frequent hot axle boxes.

In 1928, the LMS introduced the Royal Scot 4-6-0 express passenger locomotive, based on the SR Lord Nelson Class.

In another departure from the small engine policy, several 2-6-0+0-6-2 Beyer-Garratts were acquired for the Toton-Brent coal trains but interference from Derby saw these receive standard small axles boxes and short travel valves with the result that they were poor performers.

Sir Henry retired in 1933, Ernest Lemon initially taking over as CME for a short period before William Stanier was head-hunted into the job from the Great Western Railway. Stanier was to reform LMS locomotive policy.

1938 October 16th. Died


1938/39 Obituary [1]

Henry Fowler was born in 1870 and was educated at Mason Science College, Horwich Railway Mechanics Institute and Manchester Technical School, obtaining a Whitworth Exhibition in 1891.

His practical training was received in the Locomotive Works of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway, following which he was appointed Assistant, and subsequently in charge of the Test Office of the Company.

In 1900 he received his first appointment with the Midland Railway as Experimental Engineer, and was subsequently Assistant Works Manager, Works Manager, and finally Chief Mechanical Engineer.

During the War he was Superintendent of the Royal Aircraft Factory at Farnborough, and was subsequently appointed Director of Production at the Ministry of Munitions, his services in this capacity being recognized by a Knighthood. He died on 16th October, 1938, at the age of 68.

He was elected a Member in 1916 and was President during the Session 1920-21.


1938 Obituary [2]


1938 Obituary [3]

Sir HENRY FOWLER, K.B.E., LL.D., D.Sc., was one of the most widely known engineers of his time, chiefly because of the remarkable range of his professional interests and his keen support of a large number of technical and scientific institutions, in many of which he was a leading figure.

He was born at Evesham in 1870 and studied engineering at Mason Science College, Birmingham, from 1885 to 1887, when he commenced his apprenticeship in the Horwich works of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. He served in the shops until 1891 when he obtained a Whitworth Exhibition and was transferred to the test room. In 1894 he became chief inspector of materials and in the following year he was appointed gas manager to the company. Shortly afterwards he became interested in automobiles, and was associated with some important motor car trials at the Crystal Palace in 1897. He maintained this interest throughout his life, for subsequently he was prominently connected with heavy road car trials of the Liverpool Self-Propelled Traffic Association, and in 1920-1 he was elected president of the Institution of Automobile Engineers.

In 1900 he was appointed gas engineer to the Midland Railway, and later held the positions of assistant works manager and works manager at Derby. He succeeded Mr. R. M. Deeley, M.I.Mech.E., as chief mechanical engineer to the company in 1910. During the War he was appointed Director of Production to the Ministry of Munitions in 1915 and Assistant Director-General of Aircraft Production in 1917, when he was awarded the C.B.E. for his services. He was created a K.B.E. in 1918, in which year he went to America and Canada as Chairman of the first Inter-Allied Conference on the Standardization of Aircraft Components.

On the incorporation of the Midland Railway in 1923 into the London Midland and Scottish Railway he was made deputy chief mechanical engineer, and two years later he succeeded to the position of chief mechanical engineer. He was responsible for the design of the Royal Scot class of 4-6-0 locomotives in 1927 and for an experimental modification of the design in 1930 to accommodate a Schmidt high-pressure boiler. The reorganization of locomotive repairs at Derby was carried out under his supervision. In 1931 Sir Henry was appointed assistant to the vice-president for research and development. He had already been responsible for extensive metallurgical researches into locomotive boilers and crank axles.

His election as president of the Institute of Metals took place in 1932. In the following year he retired from the service of the London, Midland and Scottish Railway. Few men have held so many positions of responsibility. His work for The Institution of Mechanical Engineers was typical of his energetic support of all means for the technical advancement of engineering science. He was elected an Associate Member in 1896 and was transferred to Membership in 1897. In 1918 he was elected a Member of Council; he became a Vice-President in 1922 and President in 1927, and he served on the Council as a Past-President in 1928 and 1929. He also served on the Cutting Tools, Welding, and Research Advisory Committees. In 1932 he was elected an Honorary Life Member.

He read a notable paper on "The Lighting of Railway Premises" in 1906, one on "Chisels" in 1916, and a paper on "Superheating" in 1921; and he delivered the Annual Lecture to the Graduates' Section, London, in 1922. He was also a Member of Council of the Institution of Civil Engineers. Sir Henry always took a warm-hearted interest in the education of young engineers and was a member of the governing body of the Midland Institute, Derby. From 1912 to 1914 he was president of the University of Birmingham Engineering Society, and at the same university he received his LL.D. degree in 1927. He also held the honorary degree of D.Sc. from the University of Manchester, of which he was the first honorary graduate from the Manchester College of Technology.

He keenly supported the International Railway Congress Association, and acted as joint general secretary in 1925, at the London meeting, and was a member of the permanent commission. In 1923 he was president of the Engineering Section of the British Association, which subsequently appointed a committee, of which he was chairman, to investigate the possibility of reducing noise in mechanically propelled vehicles, and in 1934 he was made chairman of a similar committee appointed by the Minister of Transport.

Sir Henry's death occurred at his home, Spondon Hall, Derby, on 16th October 1938.


1938 Obituary [4]

Sir Henry Fowler, K.B.E., LL.D., D.Sc., a Past-President of the Institute, whose death occurred on October 16, 1938, was a Worcestershire man, having been born at Evesham in 1870.

He was educated at Mason College, which afterwards became the University of Birmingham, and here he had Professor Thomas Turner as a teacher.

Being a predestined engineer, he was apprenticed to Sir John Aspinall at the Horwich works of the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. Devoting himself henceforth to locomotive engineering, he left Horwich in 1900 to enter the Midland Railway service at Derby, where he remained, with a break during the War, until his retirement in 1931, at which time he held the position of chief mechanical engineer to the L.M.S. system. Even then he retained his connection with the Company, being appointed Assistant to the Vice-President for Research and Development.

During the war, after a short spell as Director of Production under the Ministry of Munitions, he became successively Superintendent of the Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough, and Assistant Director-General of Aircraft Production.

His services to railway engineering were great, but in the public mind he will be chiefly associated with the design of the highly successful "Royal Scot" type of locomotive, which marked a distinct advance in the construction of powerful engines.

Among other reforms he carried out an extensive reorganization of the system of repair shops, which resulted in a great saving of time and aroused general interest in a public discussion.

Sir Henry was a familiar figure wherever engineers were gathered together, and his genial presence will be much missed. He delivered innumerable lectures, and held at various times an unusual number of Presidencies, including that of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and other public positions.

Many honours came his way, including the C.B.E. in 1917 and the K.B.E. in the following year, whilst he also received honorary degrees from Birmingham and Manchester Universities. He took an active interest in the work of the Institute of Metals, and, after serving as a Vice-President from 1926 to 1932, he was elected to the presidential chair, which he occupied from 1932 to 1934. His term of office coincided with a depression in industry, and his invincible optimism was of great help in the conduct of the meetings, over which he presided with great charm and tact. His associations with automobile and aircraft engineering had brought him into contact with the non-ferrous metals, in which he showed a keen interest. He was a remarkably hard worker, and his boyish manner and apparently robust frame suggested that he would have many years of activity after his official retirement. Unfortunately, his health gave way not long after, and he never regained his strength. His influence extended far beyond the railway world, and he had many friends, by whom he will be greatly missed.

He married, in 1895, the daughter of the late Mr. Philip Smith. Lady Fowler died in 1934, leaving two sons and a daughter. —C. H. D.


1938 Obituary [5]



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