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Howard, Ravenhill and Co

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of King and Queen Ironworks, Rotherhithe, London. Also know as Rotherhithe Ironworks.

c1800 Members of the Howard family became connected with the King and Queen Iron Works, Rotherhithe[1]

1840 Thomas Howard joined the King and Queen Iron Works. The work was a scrap-iron rolling mill, and had a considerable reputation for the iron produced. A forge was now added, allowing the heaviest of iron work to be made for marine and other engines.

1845 After a number of experiments, Howard succeeded in rolling at one heat the links with enlarged ends for the suspension bridge at Pesth.

Many chain links for bridges were produced using the patented rolling process of one of the partners, Thomas Howard. These were rolled from a single billet, rather than having the lug forge-welded to the shanks as had been done previously. Contracts included 1,630 suspension links for Brunel's Royal Albert Bridge[2]. They also supplied the chains used in conjunction with hydraulic rams to raise the tubes of the Britannia Bridge:-

'The chains by which the power exerted by the presses in their lofty position is communicated to the tube lying at the base of the tower, resemble the chains of an ordinary suspension bridge, and are similar to those of the bridge at Hungerford. They were manufactured by the patent process of Messrs. Howard and Ravenhill. of London, and consist of flat links, 7 inches broad, 1 inch thick, and 6 feet length with an eye at each end, and are bolted together in sets of eight and nine links alternately. The weight of these chains employed lifting the 2,000 tons is about 100 tons, far exceeding that of the well-known equestrian statue of the Duke of Wellington at Hyde-park, which has hitherto been regarded as one of the greatest "lifts" of the age.'[3]

1856 Subscribed £25 to the Smith Testimonial Fund, commemorating the work of F. P. Smith in promoting the screw propeller.

1861 Thomas Howard's nephew Herbert Howard Keeling, having completed his apprenticeship, became a partner

1862 Listed as of King and Queen Iron Works, Rotherhithe

1873 Advert: 'THE KING AND QUEEN IRON WORKS. ON THE THAMES AT ROTHERHITHE, S.E., SURREY, Distant Two Miles and a Half from London Bridge.— With possession. MESSRS. FULLER, HORSEY, SON, and Co. are instructed to SELL by AUCTION, at the Mart, Tokenhouse yard, London, on Wednesday, April 9, at Two precisely, in One Lot (unless an acceptable offer be previously made by Private Contract), in consequence of the death of the senior partner and the retirement of the surviving partners, the KING and QUEEN IRON WORKS, a most important Freehold Property, occupying a site more than three acres in extent, with a Wharf on the Thames at Rotherhithe, together with the whole of the costly fixed Plant and Machinery, capable of rolling about 6000 tons of merchant iron per annum, and of making forgings of upwards of 20 tons in weight. The Works were founded about a century ago for the re-manufacture of scrap iron, and have always maintained a very high reputation for the character of their manufactures; many of the leading engineers in London have almost exclusively used the forgings of the King and Queen Iron Works, and the brand K. Q. best is well known as one of the highest of the brands. The train of rolls will roll up to 5-inch rounds and squares ; forgings for screw shafts have been made for engines up to 1200-horse power, and forgings for crank shafts of similar dimensions. A large trade has been carried on under a patent known as Howard's Patent, for rolling bars with enlarged ends for links used in suspension and girder bridges. The links for the elegant suspension bridge at Chelsea, erected by Mr. Page, the Hungerford railway bridge, the Pesth bridge, the tension bars for Warren's girder bridges on the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, and numerous other important structures, were all made at these works. The site of land occupied by the works is surrounded on three sides by the Surrey Commercial Docks, and coals have been hitherto landed from vessels lying in the docks into the coal store on the premises, while the wharf on the Thames affords facility for water carriage on the river. There is a 10-ton crane on the wharf, the buildings are conveniently arranged, and the Plant and Machinery have been from time to time renewed and kept in a state of efficiency. The supply of water from the Thames is unlimited, and free from cost. The Buildings and Plant may be named in the following order :— The Rolling Mills, with 13-in. train of rolls, with gear for two motions, capable of rolling merchant sizes up to 5-in. rounds and squares ; a Train of 10-in. Rolls for Hoops and small sizes ; a Patent Bridge Link Heading Mill, capable of rolling bars up to 25ft. in length and l2-in. in width at one heat ; a Plate for bending paddle-wheel segments from the rolls ; a Condensing Steam Beam Engine to drive these mills, cylinder 32½ in., 6ft. stroke, fly wheel 20ft., driving wheel 17ft. 8in. diameter; three Steam Boilers with flues from four heating furnaces communicating with two lofty brick stacks, several powerful Shears for cutting cold iron ; one Pair for cutting iron hot from the mill. The Shingling Forge fitted with a 5-ton wrought iron helve, driven by a condensing steam beam engine, 21-inch Cylinfer, 4ft. stroke, with two fly wheels 20ft. diameter, large Steam Boiler, heated by flues from two large heating furnaces ; lofty Brick Stack, a 15in. Roughing Mill, Scrap-iron Piling House, a use Forge, with a 45cwt. double-acting Nasmyth’s steam hammer, with wrought-iron tup ; two nearly new vertical Stack Boilers of the best description, by Penn and Sons, with donkey engines, two heating surfaces, cranes, &c. ; a use Forge, with two helves, one of 9½ tons and one of 5 tons, with cams and gearing, driven by two condensing steam beam engines, cylinders 24 and 25 inches respectively, three feet six inches stroke, four Steam Boilers, heated by flues from four heating furnaces communicating with three lofty Brick Stacks, four Cranes, one of 35 ton capacity, and one of eight tons, one of five tons, and a smaller one; Engineers' and Smiths' Shops, with Hearths blown by Lloyd's Fan and Cranes ; Lathes, Planing, Slotting, Drilling, and Punching Machines by Whitworth, Collier, Fox, and Hick ; an Hydraulic Testing Machine, to test up to 800 tons ; and numerous other appurtenances. There are two large Coal Stores, Cart Lodge, Slab Shed, Hoop-faggoting Shed, Bending-plate Store, Stores for old Iron and new Iron, Hoop Warehouse, Stabling, Cart Shed, a Warehouse on Wharf, convenient Offices, and four Dwelling-houses. The whole freehold. The Works (which are in full operation) may be viewed till the Sale, by orders only, which may be had of the Auctioneers. Particulars, with schedules of the Plant to be included in the purchase, are in preparation, and may be had 21 days prior to the Sale, of Messrs. Murray and Hutchins, Solcitors, Birchin lane, E.C. ; at the Mart ; and of Messrs. Fuller, Horsey, Son, and Co., No. 11, Billiter square, London, E.C.'[4]

A later advert appeared giving more details of remaining plant. Extracts here:-

'....a pair of 15-inch Roughing Rolls, 5ft. 2in. wide : a 9¼ -ton Helve Hammer, two 5-ton ditto, Nasmyth's 45-cwt Steam Hammer; two nearly new Wrought-iron Vertical Steam Boilers, 5ft. 6in. diameter, 39ft. high, by Penn and Son, with Donkey Pumping Engines ; Howard's Patent Heading Machine, for bridge links with enlarged ends; two Eccentric Shearing- Machines, will shear 1¼ and 1½ -inch plates ; a Lever Shearing Machine, a pair of Lever Shears, two pairs Cropping Shears, a powerful Hydraulic Testing Machine, by Easton and Amos ; four Condensing Steam Beam Engines, .......; 10 Wrought-iron Steam Boilers, from 4ft. 9in. to 8ft. 9in. diameter, and 14ft. to 24ft. long : a powerful Eccentric Punching Machine by Hick and Son, will punch 1½ in holes and take in 1ft. 7in. in the clear ; a powerful self-acting Vertical Drilling Machine, by Whitworth ; a ditto, will drill 13 inches deep ; a self-acting Drilling Machine, by Collier; a vertical Drilling Machine, will drill 24 inches deep ; a wall Drilling Machine; a 30-inch centre back geared Slide Lathe, by Fox, 37-feet bed; a 16½ inch centre ditto; a 13-inch centre self-acting ditto, by Collier ; a 10-inch centre ditto, by Whitworth and Co.; a self- acting Plaining Machine, by Collier and Co., will take in 3ft. 9in. wide by 3ft. 5in. high; a self-acting Slotting Machine, by Whitworth, 28 inches stroke ; a roll Turning Lathe; 10 wrought-iron Tanks, 200 tons cast-iron Flooring Plates, believed to be cold-blast iron ; the Brick and Iron Erection of 10 Balling and Heating Furnaces; two Use Forges and one Heating Oven; a 10-ton Weighbridge, by Kitchen, of Warrington: a 35-ton Crane, 19 feet jib; an 8-ton ditto, 21 feet jib ; a 5-ton ditto. 17 feet jib ; a 3-ton ditto, 15 feet jib - two powerful Wood Cranes; two platform Weighing Machines ; pair Shears, with 5-inch jaws ; an 8-inch single Speed Lathe; Vices and Benches ; the Utensils in Trade and remaining Stock of Iron. To be viewed on the Friday and Saturday .......'[5]

1873 Dissolution of the partnership between Henry Ravenhill and Herbert Howard Keeling, as Iron Manufacturers, at Rotherhithe, under the firm of Howard, Ravenhill, and Co.[6]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Obituary of Thomas Howard
  2. 'Brunel's Royal Albert Bridge' by John Binding, Twelveheads Press, 1997
  3. Morning Advertiser - Wednesday 1 August 1849
  4. Sheffield Independent - Friday 21 February 1873
  5. Sheffield Independent - Tuesday 6 May 1873
  6. London Gazette 21 November 1873