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British Industrial History

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Mikael Pedersen

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Mikael Pedersen (c1856-1929)

c1856 Born in Denmark

Pedersen invented and patented a novel corn thresher capable of separating corn from chaff, a transmission system, a gear system for horse drawn mills and a braking system for waggons, among other ideas.

Pedersen was involved in the development of a continuous centrifuge for the churning and separation of cream and butter from milk - that is, one which did not need to be stopped in order to remove the cream. This was patented in 1878; Pedersen's involvement was not noted, a matter which angered him. Pedersen subsequently worked on further refinements, leading to patents and considerable income. His refined version of the centrifuge is still in use today. The rights were bought by Koefoed and Hauberg in Copenhagen, and as part of an export drive they made contact with R. A. Lister and Co.

1889 M. Pedersen, a Danish engineer, invented a novel cream separator. Robert Ashton Lister acquired a licence to sell this in the U.K., under the name "Alexandra Cream Separator". Pedersen later moved to Dursley to work in the dairy section of Lister's business.

Lister suggested that Pedersen come to England to set up local assembly with parts shipped from Denmark, and this he agreed to do, bringing his wife Dagmar with him (he was by this time separated from his wife Laura). The separator was highly successful in the English market and Pedersen became rich, renting the largest house in Dursley and becoming prominent in society in the town. He formed a choir and took part in concerts, and set up a number of social and sporting groups.

1897 Listed at Raglan House, Long Street, Dursley [1]

In Dursley, Pedersen set up manufacture of his unusual and ingenious cantilevered bicycle, which earned a small but devoted following.

1899 Pedersen set up the Dursley Pedersen Cycle Co with Ashton Lister; Listers made products for Dursley Pedersen

1901 Living at Long Street, Dursley (age 45 born Denmark), ??? Mechanic and Cycle Maker, and Employer. With his wife Dagmar F. (age 35 born Denmark). Also his niece Maren M. Vestergaard (age 14 born Denmark). One servant. [2]

1902 Listed as a partner in Humpage, Jacques and Pedersen [3]

1905 Director of Pedlar Brake and Two-Speed Gear Co

During a visit to his brother Hans Mathias in Denmark, Pedersen met and fell in love with a girl, Ingeborg, 29 years his junior, bringing her back to Dursley in 1907. In 1908 she gave birth to their first child, a boy named Palnatok, They also had a daughter who died at two years old and two further sons, Vaughan and Svend (born in 1914).

Unfortunately Pedersen lacked business acumen and was both profligate and prone to being cheated. He left Dursley unannounced in his sixties, leaving his family behind, and Ingeborg subsequently returned to Denmark, marrying Jens Kristoffer Jensen, who adopted the children.

Pedersen was spotted by a friend selling matches in London, and the friend arranged to pay his way back to Denmark in 1920. He died in 1929, poor and virtually unknown, and was buried in an unmarked grave in Bispebjerg, a suburb of Copenhagen

In 1995 a collection was started by enthusiasts for the Pedersen bicycle to raise funds in order to bring Mikael Pedersen's remains back to Dursley and re-bury them there. This was achieved in 1995, and the service was attended by over 300 people including the Bishop of Gloucester, representatives from the Danish Embassy and Pedersen's grandchildren.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1897 Kelly's Directory of Gloucestershire
  2. 1901 Census
  3. 1902 Kelly's Directory of Bristol