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Richard Hammersley Heenan

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Richard Hammersley Heenan (1847-1920) of Heenan and Froude was a civil engineer and entrepreneur.

c1847 Born in Ireland

Worked for Department of Public Works in India.

1881 Acquired Woodhouse and Co at Newton Heath Ironworks, Manchester

1883 The partnership with Woodhouse was dissolved (when he retired) and Heenan took a former colleague from India, R. H. Froude, into partnership as Heenan Construction Co as general and structural engineers[1].

1884 Married Ada Drummond in Ireland[2]

1887 Trials of a new explosive produced by Roburite Explosives Co Ltd took place within the Chatham Lines under the supervision of the inventor of the explosive, Dr Carl Roth, and Mr Hammersley Heenan[3].

1890 Wrote a letter to the Editor of The Standard setting out a scheme for destroying the proposed Channel Tunnel 'in the case of necessity', so as to overcome the objections to its construction from the Military. Claimed to have shown the plans to the heads of the War Office, Lord Wolseley, and Lord Charles Beresford, who did not refute its feasibility. Letter signed R. Hammersley Heenan, M. Inst C.E., Newton-heath Ironworks, Manchester and dated 31 March[4].

1891 Richard H Heenens (sic) 44, civil engineer (late D.P.W. India), living in Wilsmlow with Ada H. 26, Belinda H. 72, his widowed mother[5]

1892 Hammersley Heenan presided over the meeting of the Darien Gold Mining Co in Manchester[6].

1892 Inspected the site of the proposed tower at Wembley and subsequently spoke at the meeting of the Metropolitan Railway Company about his experience, giving details of the tower at Blackpool and supporting the Wembley project, stating that he was ready to construct the tower at the lower price that had been sent in, and he would take one-fifth of the shares in the venture. He also pointed out that the earnings from the Eiffel Tower in its first year had paid for the cost of the whole project[7].

1893 Hammersley Heenan presided over a meeting of the Darien Gold Mining Co in Manchester at which the shareholders were told of the state of the mines; he reminded them that the stories of Spanish gold extracted from the mine had never been disproved. Further capital was needed for machinery. The chairman suggested the speculation would be a good one if carried through[8].

1894 Hammersley Heenan presided over a meeting of the Darien Gold Mining Co in Manchester; amongst other directors present was Lord Charles Beresford. The company had been searching for gold for 5 years and they had now struck a lode 40 feet wide, the widest in the world. The company had sufficient cash to last until crushing of ore started in the following year[9].

1895 Mr. H. Heenan, M. Inst. C.E., and Mr. W. Gilbert, Wh. Sc, Assoc. M. Inst. C. E. presented a paper on "The Design and Testing of Centrifugal Fans," at the Institution of Civil Engineers[10]. The object of the experiments was to determine the best form of fan blade and fan case, and the most economical diameter and speed of fan, to produce any required volume of air at a given pressure.

1896 The first stage of the Wembley Tower, being constructed by the Metropolitan Tower Construction Co, had been completed and visitors would be able to ascend to a platform of about 1 acre in extent, some 150 feet above ground, to view the countryside. The tower had been constructed by Mr Hammersely Heenan, using 3000 tons of steel[11].

1896 The Institution of Civil Engineers awarded the Crampton Prize to Hammersely Heenan, as well as to a number of other recipients[12].

1899 Mr and Mrs Hammersely Heenan arrived at Kingstown by Royal Mail steamer[13]

1899 Birth of a daughter, at Manor House, Wilmslow, Cheshire to Mr and Mrs Hammersley Heenan[14].

1901 Living at Mand House, Wilmslow Park: Hammersley Heenan (age 54 born Ireland), a Civil Engineer and Employer. With his wife Ada Hammersley Heenan (age 36 born Manchester) and their children Richard E. H. Heenan (age 9 born Wilmslow), John N. D. H. Heenan (age 8 born Wilmslow), Alice V. B. H. Heenan (age 6 born Wilmslow), and Kathleen Heenan (age 1 born Wilmslow). Seven servants.[15]

1909 Hammersley Heenan joined the board of Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co, together with Capt Henry Rial Sankey and Frederick Whowell, managing director of the Bleachers Association, Manchester [16].

1909 Addressed the AGM of Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co at length about the competition that Marconi's wireless system presented to the submarine cables, the importance of know-how even more than patents and that Marconi should manufacture everything themselves. He testified to his visit to the Clifden station in Ireland together with his friend Frederick Whowell, indicating it was well (over) engineered with everything duplicated, and gave an account of the relative economics versus cable, which indicated a great profit potential for the Marconi system[17].

1911 Living at Uwch-Y-don, Old Colwyn, North Wales: Hammersley Heenan (age 64 born Parsonstown, Kings Co., Ireland), Civil Engineer - Chairman and Managing Director of Heenan and Froude. With his wife (married 26 years with five children) Ada Hammersley Heenan (age 46 born Manchester) and their children Richard Edward Hammersley Heenan (age 19 born Wilmslow), an Engineering Student; John Nelson Dundas Heenan (age 18 born Wilmslow), an Engineering Student; Olivia Violet Beresford Heenan (age 16 born Wilmslow); Kathleen Ada Heenan (age 11 born Wilmslow); and Robert Lawrence Heenan (age 6 born Wilmslow). Two visitors. Six servants.[18]

1920 June 17th. Died


1920 Obituary [19]

HAMMERSLEY HEENAN was born at Birr, Ireland, on 5th January 1847, and received his early education at Parsonstown.

At the age of seventeen he entered the service of the East Indian Railway, and subsequently was appointed an assistant engineer in the Public Works Department.

After working for about fifteen years in that position, he was detailed for service in the Bawhlpore State, where he designed the palace for the ruler of that State. Ultimately he was appointed chief engineer to the P.W.D., but was obliged to decline owing to his health not permitting him to remain in India.

In 1880 he returned to England, and purchased the works of Messrs. Woodhouse and Co., Newton Heath, Manchester, and on the retirement of Mr. Woodhouse, he took into partnership a former colleague of his in India, Mr. J. Froude, thus founding the firm of Heenan and Froude, of whom Mr. Heenan was chairman and managing director until his retirement in 1918.

For some time they confined their activities to bridge-building and structural iron and steel work. Among the undertakings carried out may be mentioned the Blackpool Tower, and bridges for many of the English Railways.

The firm also supplied and erected material for the harbour of Rangoon. Works were also started in Birmingham in the "Eighties," where many specialities were developed, including the Tower Spherical Engine, which he described in a Paper in the Proceedings, 1885, page 96. Owing to the accommodation proving insufficient, additional works were taken at Worcester for the manufacture of air-filters and coolers, oil and water coolers, refuse destructors, refrigerating machinery, etc., the conception and design of most of these being due almost entirely to Mr. Heenan.

During the War, be rendered great service to the Government in the manufacture of munitions. He was a Justice of the Peace for the County of Denbigh.

His death took place in London on 17th June 1920, at the age of seventy-three.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1875.



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 21 January 1937
  2. BMD
  3. Morning Post, 14 June 1887
  4. The Standard, 1 April 1890
  5. 1901 census
  6. The Times, 19 January 1892
  7. The Times, 23 July 1892
  8. Glasgow Herald, 31 January 1893
  9. Leeds Mercury, 6 November 1894
  10. The Engineer 1895/12/20
  11. North Eastern Daily Gazette, 18 May 1896
  12. Morning Post, 9 November 1896
  13. Freemans Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser (Dublin), 10 January 1899
  14. The Standard 30 November 1899
  15. 1901 Census
  16. The Times, 29 June 1909
  17. The Times, 2 July 1909
  18. 1911 Census
  19. 1920 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries