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British Industrial History

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Thomas Sibley Whittem

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Thomas Sibley Whittem (a835-1898)

of Wyken Colliery, Coventry.


1898 Obituary [1]

THOMAS SIBLEY WHITTEM was born at Coventry on 15th May 1835, his father being a colliery owner and at one time mayor of that city. Having received his early education in Coventry and Glasgow, he entered the works of Messrs. Thornewill and Warham at Burton-on-Trent as an articled pupil, and subsequently served there as an improver. The experience so gained in the construction and erection of all kinds of colliery machinery for winding, ventilation, pumping, and haulage, enabled him on leaving Burton to join his father in the management of the Wyken Colliery near Coventry, of which he greatly improved the equipment, and devised many useful appliances in connection with the machinery.

On his father's death in 1884 he became the managing partner, and displayed his enterprise and ability in sinking a fresh pair of pit shafts through the heavily watered strata of the new red sandstone to reach the principal coal seams of the Warwickshire district; in these he then opened out workings.

He was one of the first to apply the modern enclosed quick-revolution engine for colliery ventilation; and he successfully erected an underground pump worked by electric power for lifting the water out of the workings at a considerable distance from the pit bottom against a head of 750 feet.

His death took place on 22nd April 1898 in the sixty-third year of his age.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1869.


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