Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 134,029 pages of information and 213,093 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Louis Sterne

From Graces Guide

Jump to: navigation, search

Louis Sterne (1835-1924) of Thomson, Sterne and Co and L. Sterne and Co.

of 8 Great Queen Street, Westminster. (1870).

1866 Notice given by Louis Sterne, of Old Broad-street, London, Engineer, in respect of the invention of "improvements in buffers, draw springs, and bearing springs." The result partly of communications made to him from abroad by Edward Lindner, of Vienna, Austria, and partly of invention or discovery made by himself.[1]

1868 Patent for the invention of "improvements in the manufacture of driving belts, bands, or straps."[2]

1869 Patent by Louis Sterne, of New York City, USA, then residing in Great Queen Street, Westminster, Engineer, and James Archibald Jaques, Chemist, and John Americus Fanshawe, Engineer, both of Tottenham, Middlesex, for the invention of "improvements in the manufacture of elastic rubbers."[3]

1870 Patents in respect of the invention of "improvements in buffers, also applicable to bearing and other springs", for the invention of "improvements in the construction of wheel tyres," with James Godfrey Warner, of Kensington, in the county of Middlesex, Engineer, for the invention of "improvements in bolts for securing parts of the permanent way of railways.", and with Peter Brotherhood, of Notting Hill, in the county of Middlesex, Engineer, for the invention of "improvement in apparatus for accumulating hydrostatic pressure."[4]

1871 Patents for the invention of "improvements in meters for water, gas, and other fluids." — A communication to him from abroad by August Almqvist, of New York, USA, and with James Archibald Jaques, of Tottenham, for the invention of "improvements in the manufacture of bags and pouches."[5]

1873 Patents for the invention of "improvements applicable to railway carriages, and for an invention of "improvements in the means of securing elastic tyres to wheels."[6]

1873 Patent with Loftus Perkins, of Seaford Street, Regent Square, Middlesex, Engineer, for an invention of "improvements in the construction of railway rolling stock and traction engines." Sterne was of Victoria Street, Westminster.[7]

1874 Patent for the invention of "improvements in buckles or fastenings."[8]

1875 Patent for the invention of "improvements in or connected with screw nuts" to Louis Sterne, of the Crown Iron Works, Glasgow, and of Number 9, Victoria-chambers, Westminster, Engineer[9]

1876 Patent with Loftus Perkins for an invention of "improvements in the construction of railway rolling stock and traction engines."[10]

1877 Patents with James Baird Handyside, both of the Crown Iron Works, Glasgow, Engineers, for the invention of "improvements in wheels and machine tools for grinding or finishing metallic surfaces", and another for the invention of "improvements in closing springs for doors or gates."[11]

1878 Patent with Albert Benton Pullman, of the Midland Hotel, St. Pancras, Middlesex, Engineer, for an invention of "improvements in draw and buffer apparatus for railway rolling stock."[12]

1911 of 22 Kensington Gore, London W, a mechanical engineer and employer with machinery works in Scotland[13]

1924 Died. His executors were John Field Beale and George Roney, a long-standing employee of the company[14]


1924 Obituary [15]

LOUIS STERNE was born in Philadelphia on 15th May 1835, and although he spent the greater portion of his life in this country, he still remained a citizen of the United States of America.

He began his apprenticeship in 1847 with Messrs. Long and Co., of Philadelphia, and afterwards at the Baldwin Locomotive Works in the same city. At the end of his term he took a locomotive to its station at Ohio, and then left the works, going south, where he found great scope for his inventive genius in mechanical engineering.

In 1857 he returned to Philadelphia to take charge of his father's business, and continued in this position until 1861. During this period he became the personal friend of Abraham Lincoln.

On the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 he joined the New York State Militia, and, as the result of a wound at Gettysburg, his health was impaired, and he was advised to go abroad. Soon afterwards Abraham Lincoln appointed him on special services to European countries to prevent, as far as possible, the equipment of blockade runners for the Southern States.

He came to England in 1865, intending only to pay a short visit, but the assassination of President Lincoln, who had been about to give him fresh employment in America, brought about a change of plans, and for the remainder of his life his domicile was in this country.

He was associated with the laying of the first Atlantic cable, and, under the late Mr. Greathead, in the construction of London's first tube railway by means of the Greathead shield. This led to the founding of the firm in this country with which he was identified, Messrs. Thomson, Sterne and Co., which subsequently obtained from America the right to construct refrigerating machinery on the De la Vergne system.

Mr. Sterne, however, introduced many important improvements, especially in cold storage engineering and refrigerating plant. The name of the firm was changed in 1882 to L. Sterne and Co., Ltd., and, in addition to refrigeration, the company carried on general engineering work, including grinding machinery and wheels and steel springs, at the Crown Ironworks, Glasgow.

He remained chairman until the date of his death. He was also identified with other undertakings, of which one was the Blackfriars Cold Storage Co.

He was elected a Member of this Institution in 1876, and was a regular attendant at the Summer Meetings in the " Eighties " and " Nineties," where his courtesy and geniality were highly prized by his numerous friends.

His death took place at his flat in Whitehall Court, London, on 29th May 1924, at the age of eighty-nine.


1924 Obituary [16]

LOUIS STERNE died on May 29, 1924, after a short illness.

He was born in Philadelphia in 1835, and though he passed the major portion of his life in England he remained a citizen of the United States. At an early age he entered the Baldwin Locomotive Works at a wage of $2 per week.

Early in 1849, when only fourteen years of age, he was placed in charge of a small workshop on a line of railway which had been opened to develop the coal district near Tamagna, in Pennsylvania. Subsequently he was asked by Mr. Baldwin to take a locomotive to a new line of railway which had just been opened in Ohio.

The spirit of adventure within him became too strong to admit of his return home, so he journeyed still farther to Louisville, in Kentucky, and obtained work in a repair shop for river steamers. Later he went to New York, where he studied engineering for a year, and again worked in the Baldwin shops. After short spells of work in Cincinnati and Texas, he was engaged in making a railway between Richmond and Houston, and in other railway work. While thus occupied, he made his first invention, the fitting of a hickory-wood spring for propelling the shuttle of a loom to and fro.

From 1859 to 1861 he was engaged in his father's business at first in Philadelphia and then in New York, where he joined the 7th Regiment of the New York State Militia, which on the outbreak of the Civil War in 1861 was at once mobilised. As the result of a wound received at Gettysburg his health was impaired, and he was advised to go abroad. He was appointed by President Lincoln a secret service agent or commissioner for the Baltic Coasts, his duty being to prevent the equipment of blockade runners, a post which he held till the end of the war.

He came to England in 1865, and for the remainder of his life his domicile was in this country. At first he was engaged, through the introduction of Mr. (afterwards Sir) Daniel Gooch, as one of the staff in charge of the paying out of the first Atlantic cable from on board the Great Eastern.

On his return he was encouraged to develop his patent for railway buffers, draw and bearing springs, which was taken out in 1865. For this purpose he entered into partnership with Mr. Townsend, which continued till 1873. He was then approached by Mr. W. S. Thomson with the invitation to become his partner and undertake the conduct of a similar business and works known as the Crown Ironworks, Glasgow. The two firms were amalgamated under the title of Thomson, Sterne & Co., Ltd., which continued as such till 1882, when on the retirement of Mr. Thomson the name was altered to L. Sterne & Co., Ltd.

In 1880 he started to manufacture gas-engines at Hollinwood, in Lancashire. An action for infringement having been successfully brought against the firm, manufacture was stopped very shortly after it had been begun, and the Hollinwood works were disposed of. He then took up the manufacture of refrigerating machinery, then in its infancy in this country, and the two businesses, springs and refrigerating machinery, were carried on concurrently. In addition to purchasing, in 1876, the emery-wheel making business of William Warne & Co., he commenced to make not only the wheels but the grinding machines as well.

He was a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1877.


1924 Obituary [17]



1924 Obituary[18]

"THE LATE MR. LOUIS STERNE.

We regret to place on record the death of Mr. Louis Sterne, one of the oldest and most respected engineering workers in this country. And yet there is no cause for regret, because for over 89 years he had lived a full life. In his profession he did good work in various branches, although always unobtrusively. In the national life he, as an influential American, with the greatest regard for British traditions, played a distinctive part in promoting a continuance of the closest friendship between the great Anglo-Saxon races. Socially, he did much, to round the corners of the busy man’s life by his bonhomie and his great conversational gifts.

Mr. Sterne was born in Philadelphia on May 15, 1835. He started his education when five years of age, and began his apprenticeship in 1847, therefore at the early age of 12 years. He served two years with Messrs. Long and Co. of Philadelphia, and afterwards at the Baldwin locomotive Works in the same city. It was one of his proud remembrances that during work in the foundry he assisted in welding work to repair a crack in a bell commemorating the foundation of the independence of the United States of America. At the end of his apprenticeship he proved so adaptable that he took a locomotive built by Baldwin to its station at Ohio. This episode seemed to have had the effect of awakening a spirit of adventure, because he never returned to the Baldwin works. He went south, and found there great scope for his inventive ingenuity in general mechanical engineering. He was in the repair- works of the Louisville and Kentucky Railway, and later went westward, again in an adventurous spirit, and was engaged in charge of workers on one of the pioneer railways, an occupation which, because of the absence of satisfactory mechanical appliances, stimulated his creative mind.- One; result was the beginning of a long series of patents. In 1857 he returned to Philadelphia to take charge of his father’s business and continued in' this position until 1861, accepting the responsibility of many enterprises. During these years he became the personal friend of Abraham Lincoln. Naturally when the Civil War broke out he took an active part, and one of his hazardous adventures was the armouring, from crude material, of a barge conveying troops on the Potomac River. Soon afterwards Abraham Lincoln appointed him on special services to European countries, to prevent, as far as possible, the equipment of blockade runners for the Southern States.

At the age of 30, the war being over, Mr. Sterne decided to make England his principal country of residence. He was associated with the laying of the first Atlantic cable, and, under the late Mr. Greathead, in the construction of London’s first tube railway by means of the Greathead shield.

This led to the founding of the firm in this country with which he was identified, Messrs. Thompson, Sterne and Co., a firm which achieved success when Mr. Sterne obtained for it from America the right to construct the De la Vergne system of refrigerating machinery. Mr. Sterne, however, introduced many important improvements, especially in cold storage engineering and refrigerating plant. The name of the firm was later changed to L. Sterne and Co., Limited, and it is still a well-known company, doing not only refrigeration but general engineering, including grinding and steel Springs, at the well-known Crown Ironworks at Glasgow. He remained chairman of the company until the date of his death.

During this time he was identified with many other undertakings, and one of his successful business enterprises was the Blackfriars Cold Storage Company, Limited. Associated with the late Thomas Mason he established the business, and was a director from the time the business was formed into a limited company, in the year 1910, until the date of his death. Mr. Sterne remained an American subject right to the end, with strong affection for Britain ; indeed, on this point he was very pronounced, and was inclined to give the cold shoulder to such Americans as became naturalised. His old home, overlooking Kensington Gardens, was the rendezvous for prominent 'American and British subjects, and many diplomatic questions were thrashed out across his dining table. Rarely did a year pass Without him crossing the Atlantic, particularly until the death of his brother, Mr. Simon Sterne, who was one of the leading authorities on international law in America.

He was elected a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers as long ago as February 27, 1876, and no engineer was better known or more highly respected. His company was much sought after, notably at the summer 'meetings of the Institution, when his gifts as a raconteur found full play and his courtesy and geniality were dominant factors in any social gathering. In the palmy days of the Whitehall Club he was one of its best-known members, his great friends among the members being the late Sir Miles Fenton, the late Mr. Albert Vickers, afterwards chairman of Vickers, Limited, and the late Mr. James Samuel Beale, for many years head of the firm of Messrs. Beale and Co., of Westminster, solicitors to the Midland Railway Co. In recent years he has been an equally well-known member of the Junior Carlton Club. He grew old beautifully. He never lost that kindly and courteous attitude towards friends, however new or remote they (might be. He recognised that experience and judgment were the great assets of old men, and he conserved his physical energy by refusing to attend to any details, contenting himself with the bigger questions where his knowledge justified him in giving advice. Thus it was that,' notwithstanding his great age, he' continued serene, happy and active Until the end. He motored during the last week of his life, -and died peacefully at his beautiful flat overlooking the Thames at Whitehall Court, on Friday, May 30."


See Also

Loading...

Sources of Information

  1. London Gazette 1866
  2. London Gazette 1868
  3. London Gazette 1869
  4. London Gazette, 1870
  5. London Gazette, 1871
  6. London Gazette 1873
  7. London Gazette 1873
  8. London Gazette 1874
  9. London Gazette 1875
  10. London Gazette 1876
  11. London Gazette 1877
  12. London Gazette 1878
  13. 1911 census
  14. London Gazette, 1924
  15. 1924 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  16. 1924 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries
  17. The Engineer 1924/06/06
  18. Engineering 1924/06/06