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British Industrial History

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Samuel Godfrey

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Samuel Godfrey (1832-1887)

1862 Samuel Godfrey, Engineer, Bolckow and Vaughan's Iron Works, Middlesbrough.[1]

1887 April 18th. Died.[2]


1887 Obituary [3]

SAMUEL GODFREY was born at Ebbw Vale on 15th June 1832.

To his grandfather was due the invention of the cataract, for timing the strokes of the Cornish pumping engine; and his father was engaged for many years at the Neath Abbey Works in making sugar-mill and other machinery required in the West Indies and other colonies.

He was educated partly at Merthyr Tydfil, in the school of Mr. Taliesin Williams, father of the late Mr. Edward Williams of Middlesbrough; and afterwards at a Bristol school.

He then went into the offices of Mr. Crawshay Bailey at the Aberaman Ironworks, where his father was at that time engineer; and was afterwards employed at Nantyglo. He was next engaged at the Neath Abbey Works, and although very young was there entrusted with the occasional supervision of machinery erections, chiefly furnace and mill work, in various parts of the country.

Thence he was taken at the age of twenty-four by the late Mr. John Vaughan to act as chief engineer for Messrs. Bolckow and Vaughan on their growing concerns at Middlesbrough and Witton Park, and on their collieries; and in that capacity contributed to the progress of the iron manufacture by his persistent advocacy of higher blast-furnaces, as well as by the introduction of useful machines of his own contrivance for fish-plate making and for cutting and drilling and straightening iron and steel rails.

He also devised improvements in furnace grate-bars, in rotary puddling, and more recently in boring machinery for salt-mining in Middlesbrough and elsewhere.

When the late Mr. Edward Williams became the general manager of the firm of Messrs. Bolckow Vaughan and Co. in 1865, he retained his position as chief engineer, and initiated the steel business of the company by adapting to their new requirements the Gorton Works near Manchester.

Afterwards he laid out and constructed the firm's Eston Steel Works near Middlesbrough, for which he also planned the steel-making plant. The anxieties attendant upon this, the greatest work of his life, broke down his health; and in 1880 he made a voyage to New Zealand, from which he derived some benefit.

On his return however, finding the work too heavy, he retired after a service of twenty-six years.

Subsequently he was engaged in the conversion of Welsh ironworks for the manufacture of steel, in arbitration, and in other business in which his experience was called into profitable requisition, until the harsh weather of the present year, acting upon his not robust constitution, led to his death on 18th April 1887 at the age of fifty-four.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1862.


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