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British Industrial History

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John Hector Willis

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John Hector Willis (1887-1942)

1945 Obituary [1]

JOHN HECTOR WILLIS was born in 1887, and received his education at the Verdin Technical College, Northwich. He served his apprenticeship at the Northwich Urban District Council's waterworks from 1903 to 1906, and continued in the employment of the Council as assistant waterworks engineer and surveyor for another year. He was then appointed assistant engineer to the Northwich Gas Company and remained in their service until 1910. After holding a similar position for two years with the Smethwich Corporation Gas Company, he entered the City of Birmingham Gas Department in the capacity of chief draughtsman; but, as the result of experiments in association with the late Dr. W. B. Davidson, D.S.C., on the extraction of benzol toluol from coal gas, he was, in 1914, attached to the War Office and, later, to the High Explosives Department of the Ministry of Munitions.

As technical assistant he was responsible for the installation of more than a dozen benzol and toluol recovery plants in Great Britain. In addition he assisted in the design and took charge of the erection, and, eventually, the control, of their operation during the war of 1914-18. On his release from his duties under the Government in 1922 Mr. Willis returned to the City of Birmingham Gas Department as constructional engineer and held that position until 1924 when he joined the board of directors of Messrs. Alexander Comley, Ltd., coal factors, of the same city, and was associated with them up to the time of his death, which occurred during the year 1942.

He had been an Associate Member of the Institution since 1913.

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