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British Industrial History

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Henry Kirk

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Henry Kirk (1830-1914)


1914 Obituary [1]

HENRY KIRK was born at Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, on 7th April 1830.

He served his time in the Town End Ironworks, which were those of the original firm formed by H. and T. Kirk at Chapel-en-le-Frith about the year 1770. His father, Mr. Peter Kirk, founded the Star Ironworks, Newbridge Lane, Stockport, in 1854, in conjunction with his three sons, Henry, Thomas, and Peter, and in 1861 the firm moved to the New Yard Works, Workington, and afterwards acquired the Marsh Side Rolling Mills, Workington, and the Ellen Rolling Mills, Mary-port.

It is of interest to state that Nasmyth's first steam-hammer was erected in 1844 or 1845 at the Town End Works, Chapel-en-le-Frith. The latter place was a thriving town in the old coaching days, being on the main road between London and Manchester, the Kirks being at that time blacksmiths. The loss of trade on the advent of railways caused them to adopt the manufacture of iron.

Mr. Kirk made a special study of the puddling process, and read several Papers on this subject to various Societies, one of which, on "Homogeneous Iron," he contributed to this Institution in 1877. In later years he made a successful trial of puddling molten iron direct from the blast- furnace, and made many improvements in both puddling and re-heating furnaces, also in the design of rolling mills.

His death took place at Carlisle on 18th July 1914, at the age of eighty-four.

He was elected a Member of this Institution in 1877, and he was also a Member of the Iron and Steel Institute.


1914 Obituary [2]

HENRY KIRK died at his residence, 28 Petteril Street, Carlisle, on Sunday, July 18, at the age of eighty-four. He was the son of Mr.

Peter Kirk, of Stockport, and was born in 1830 at Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire. The family had been for a great many years associated with Derbyshire industries, the original firm of H. & T. Kirk having been formed as far back as 1770 at Town End, Chapel-en-le-Frith.

The association of the Kirks with the district dated, however, even farther back than this. Being on the main coaching road between London and Manchester, Chapel-en-le-Frith was formerly a thriving town in which the Kirks carried on the business of blacksmiths, and an old account book extant, dated 1650, contains an item relating to the repair of the clapper of the parish church bell by a Thomas Kirk.

The diminution of trade, due to the introduction of railways, led the Kirks to devote themselves to the manufacture of iron, and they made small rounds, squares, and fiats, employing a metal helve worked by a water wheel. In 1854 Mr. Peter Kirk founded the Star Ironworks, Newbridge Lane, Stockport. In the management he was associated with his three sons, Henry, Thomas, and Peter. In 1861, however, the undertaking was transferred to the New Yard Works, Workington, and the business was subsequently extended by the acquisition of the Marsh Side Rolling Mills, Workington, and the Ellen Rolling Mills, Maryport. The manufacture of bar iron was undertaken, and considerable prosperity ensued. Henry Kirk threw himself whole-heartedly into the business, and acquired a first-hand knowledge of the subsidiary operations, being an expert roller, furnaceman, and shingler. On one occasion, when the shinglers went out on strike, he served at the hammer and shingled the first round, a form of competition which led to the collapse of the strike.

He made a special study of the puddling process, in connection with which he was regarded as an expert. On this subject he read two important papers before the Iron and Steel Institute, in 1876 and 1877 respectively, on "The Puddling and Ordinary Rotary Furnaces." He also read papers dealing with the same subject before the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Staffordshire Iron and Steel Institute, known in those days as the South Staffordshire Institute of Iron and Steel Works' Managers. He also made successful experiments in the puddling of molten iron direct from the blast-furnace, and effected considerable improvements in puddling and reheating furnaces and in rolling mills and the design of rolls.

He was an original member of the Iron and Steel Institute, having been elected in 1869, and was a constant attendant at the earlier meetings of the Institute.


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