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British Industrial History

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Robert Warner (1815-1896)

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Robert Warner (1815-1896), bellfounder of John Warner and Sons

1815 Born in Cripplegate, London, son of John and Sarah Warner; John was a brass founder[1]

1851 Brass founder, living in Hoddesdon, Herts, with Mary Ann Warner 41, Jane Warner 8, Edward Warner 6, Edith Warner 3[2]

1871 Engineer and Founder, living in Broomfield, Essex with Mary Ann Warner 61, Robert Greenwood Warner 31, engineer and founder, and cousin Mary Ann Warner 45[3]

1879 Associate of Inst of Civil Engineers, of Crescent Foundry, Cripplegate, London[4]

1881 A.I.C.E. Engineer, F.C.S., author of works on orchids, living in Broomfield, Essex with Mary Ann Warner 71 and his cousin Mary Ann Warner 57[5]

1897 Obituary [6]

ROBERT WARNER was born on the 10th September, 1815, at Jewin Crescent, Cripplegate, at the business house which was also the residence of his father, then the head of the firm of John Warner and Sons, bellfounders, and the descendant of a family of Quakers, following in an unbroken line from the time of George Fox, about the middle of the seventeenth century.

The subject of this notice was educated at the Friends’ School at Epping and, after serving an apprenticeship at Chelmsford, entered his father’s business, of which he ultimately became the head.

Amongst other work carried out by the firm was the casting of the bells for the Clock Tower of the Houses of Parliament. The hour bell, weighing 13 tons 11 cwt., was named Big Ben after Sir Benjamin Hall, then First Commissioner of Works. The quarters are struck upon four smaller bells, weighing from 4 tons to 1 ton each. The tune, or rather succession of notes, played by the quarter bells, consists of a series of ingenious variations of a passage which may be found in the opening symphony of the air “I know that my Redeemer liveth” in the Messiah. The large bell cracked before leaving the foundry and was recast by Mears. After having been hung for some time Big Ben II. also gave way, and for three years the hours were struck upon the largest quarter-bell. Eventually, however, it was again brought into use, having been turned round so as to present a fresh striking-place to the hammer. The flaw does not show any signs of going farther.

A strictly engineering work carried out by Mr. Warner was the construction of a breakwater at Walton-on-the-Naze for the protection of his property at that place.

In 1842 he founded the United Kingdom Temperance and General Provident Institution., of which he was Chairman for fifty-two years.

He was well known as one of the first successful growers of orchids in this country and published an exhaustive treatise on “Select Orchidaceous Plants,” being shortly afterwards elected a Fellow of the Linnean society. At the time of his death he was the “Father” of the Worshipful Company of Founders, being the oldest member of the Court.

Mr. Warner died at his residence, Widford Lodge, near Chelmsford, on the 17th December, 1896, at the age of eighty-one.

He was elected an Associate on the 27th may, 1870.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Quaker Birth, Marriage, and Death Registers
  2. 1851 census
  3. 1871 census
  4. Civil Engineer Records
  5. 1881 census
  6. 1897 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries