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John William Wailes

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John William Wailes (1845-1902)

of the Patent Shaft Works, Wednesbury. - Patent Shaft and Axletree Co


1902 Obituary [1]


JOHN WILLIAM WAILES died at Whitley Bay, Northumberland, on December 30, 1901, after a long and painful illness. He was born in 1845 at Rounton Grange, near Northallerton, now in the occupation of Sir Lowthian Bell, Bart.

After leaving school Mr. Wailes began his engineering at the Clarence Works of Messrs. Bell Brothers, and then went to the drawing offices of Messrs. Hawks, Crawshay & Sons of Gateshead-on-Tyne.

In 1870 he was commissioned by this firm, who at that time enjoyed a well-earned reputation as bridge builders, to proceed to the Caucasus, where he was engaged for two years in the erection of iron bridges on the Poti and Tiflis Railway, and again in 1872 he was employed in a similar capacity in Mexico on the Vera Cruz and Mexico Railway.

On his return to England he accepted an appointment as engineer to the Landore Siemens Steel Company at their works at Landore, where he remained for about five years.

For a short time he was in the service of the Panteg Steel Company, after which he was offered the position of general manager to the Patent Shaft and Axletree Company at Wednesbury, which he held for nearly eleven years. It was during this period that he made very exhaustive experiments and researches on open-hearth basic steel, a material in the merits of which he firmly believed and always characterised as the steel of the future. A paper on the subject, read by him before the Institute in 1887 at Manchester, created considerable stir at the time. The construction of the old type of Siemens furnace also engaged his attention, and considerable alteration in its design was effected as the result of his collaboration in this respect with the late Mr. Hackney, the late Mr. Batho, Mr. James Riley, and Mr. Dick.

In 1890 he became the general manager of the Calderbank Steel, Iron & Coal Company, a position which he resigned two or three years afterwards. He had a fertile inventive genius, and was the inventor of a water sealed valve for regenerative gas furnaces, a steam engine governor, a trench cutter, a rivet-making machine, and plant for perfecting the manufacture of weldless steel chain, in which latter process he was greatly interested in his later years.

He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1883.


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