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Joseph Whitley (1816-1891)

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Joseph Whitley (1816-1891) of Joseph Whitley and Co

Note: Possibly some confusion with Joseph Whitley

1816 Born in Wakefield

1865 Joseph Whitley, Brassfounder, Bowman Lane, Leeds.[1]

1891 January 12th. Died.[2]


1891 Obituary [3]

JOSEPH WHITLEY was born at Wakefield on 17th October 1816, and as a boy was employed at Hayden's Engineering Works in that town.

In 1832 he went to Leeds, and was employed at the engineering works of Messrs. Fenton Murray and Jackson.

Commencing business in Leeds on his own account in 1844, he was up to his death the head of the firm of Messrs. Joseph Whitley and Co., now Whitley Partners.

In 1858 he began to make improvements in metallurgical science, in the treatment particularly of iron and bronze, including the manufacture of multiple plates for the construction of ships and steam boilers, and for other purposes requiring great strength; also in the construction of moulds employed in the manufacture of spun metals and compounds of metals.

At the Inventions Exhibition in 1885 he showed the spinning of liquid metals by centrifugal force, thereby attaining greater homogeneity and density and tensile strength; and he exhibited a spun roller, consisting of several layers of hard and soft iron, yet all in one solid mass, and suitable for printing and embossing.

His death took place in New York on 12th January 1891, at the age of seventy-four.

He became an Associate of this Institution in 1865, and a Member in 1873.


1891 Obituary [4]

JOSEPH WHITLEY, of the Railway Works, Leeds, was a native of Wakefield, and was born in 1816, his father having been one of the chief hands at Hayden's Engineering Works, Wakefield, where the son also began his career. In 1832 the latter removed to Leeds, and was employed at the engineering works of Messrs. Fenton, Murray, & Jackson.

He began business on his own account in 1844, since which time he has been at the head of the firm of Joseph Whitley & Co., later Whitley Partners. He has been described as "the best bronze-founder in the world," having in recent years produced bronze of remarkably high tensile strength, density, and homogeneity. Mr. Whitley's exhibits at the Inventions Exhibition, illustrating the manufacture of cylindrical forms in bronze, was a new feature of importance to the engineering world, consisting in the spinning of liquid metals under the influence of centrifugal force, thereby attaining at once perfect homogeneity, greater density, and superior tensile strength. Mr. Whitley's exhibits further included a spun roller, consisting of several layers of different classes of iron, the outer or inner layer of which may be hard or soft, yet of one solid mass, as the case may require. The results of these applications are becoming more appreciated in mechanical engineering, especially where great tensile strength is required.

As an inventor, Mr. Whitley has been most prolific and varied, having taken out from first to last about fifty patents, between 1858 and 1887. His patents have covered improvements in iron, the manufacture of railway wheels and tyres, the casting of metals, and the moulds required for that purpose, the manufacture of weldless corrugated tubes, of steel and other boilers, of metallic shells and torpedoes, apparatus for the development of electricity, and improvements in the construction of ships, composite metallic plates, rockets, valves, railways, and machinery for the manufacture of acids. He had also worked long and successfully in the wide field of the production of alloys, a field that has within recent years assumed greatly increased importance.

Ordnance was another of Mr. Whitley's hobbies, and he produced at his works in Leeds several experimental bronze guns that attracted some attention. While essentially a mechanical engineer and metallurgist, Mr. Whitley did not strictly confine his ideas and activities. to the domains that are occupied by these professions, large and varied though they be, but he took an occasional excursion into other fields of research, and in them found original ideas for the ornamentation of textile and other fabrics, the treatment of sewer-gas, and other equally diverse subjects, which were patented. Probably, indeed, the versatility of his mind was not always so favourable to the business success of Mr. Whitley as might have been expected, since he had no sooner found the solution of one problem than lie set himself to formulate and solve another. But whether for himself or for others, Mr. Whitley did good work in his day, and was in some important directions a pioneer who is entitled to grateful remembrance. Mr. Whitley's eldest son, who was also for several years a member of the Iron and Steel Institute, is Mr. John R. Whitley, the originator and director of the several exhibitions held during recent years at Earl's Court.


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