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British Industrial History

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James Duffield

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James Duffield ( -1915)

1915 Obituary [1]

JAMES DUFFIELD, of Tallantire Hall, Cockermouth, died on March 7, 1915, at Rotherham, at the age of eighty. The son of, a collier, he started work, at the age of seven, in a Staffordshire coal-pit, and worked regularly in that occupation until he was sixteen years old.

He never went to school, and it was not until he reached the age of twenty that he began to educate himself by means of handbooks and attendance at classes. After leaving the pit he found work as under-puddler with a firm in Staffordshire.

Two years later he went to the Princes End Works of Barron & Hall, where the manufacture of bar-iron and boiler-plates was carried on. Shortly after, he was engaged at the Parkgate Ironworks at Sheffield, where he developed great skill in puddling iron for armour-plates at the time when the Admiralty were beginning to replace wooden ships by iron vessels.

When Cammell, Laird & Co. began to manufacture armour-plate, he secured a position with that company, and puddled the iron for their first armour-plate. Owing to his considerable practical knowledge of metallurgy, he was able to afford invaluable help to Cammell, Laird & Co. in applying commercially the Bessemer process. He had his reward in being appointed manager of the works which the firm built at Dronfield. This position he retained for eleven years.

When it became necessary to remove the Dronfield works to the coast, he personally selected the site at Workington, and directed the work of transferring the plant and erecting new furnaces and mills, which now belong to the Workington Iron & Steel Co., Ltd.

He was the author of several inventions connected with the manufacture of armour-plate, and when the Admiralty required compound armour, he devised a successful process for combining steel and iron for that purpose. About twelve years ago he resigned the position he had attained as a director of Cammell, Laird & Co., and also the management of their works at Workington, but he still maintained his connection with various manufacturing concerns, and at the time of his death be was the principal shareholder of Moorwoods, Ltd., Harleston Ironworks, Sheffield.

He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1891, and was a constant attendant at its meetings for many years.

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