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British Industrial History

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William Horatio Harfield

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William Horatio Harfield (1832-1910) of Harfield and Co

of Mansion House Buildings, Queen Victoria Street, London, E.C.

1911 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM HORATIO HARFIELD was born in London on 13th May 1832, and was educated at King's College, London.

After serving his apprenticeship he entered the office of his stepfather, Thomas Brown, and was subsequently taken into partnership, which constituted the firm of Brown and Harfield, the original inventors of the modern system of working cables for anchors, now universally adopted both in war and in merchant vessels. As junior partner of Brown and Harfield he saw this system adopted for the "Great Eastern" in 1857, and, as principal of Harfield and Co., for the largest of modern warships, the Dreadnought cruisers "Lion" and "Princess Royal."

In 1889 the question of improving the system of steering gear engaged his attention, and he invented a simple and most effective type of compensating steering gear, consisting essentially of an eccentric pinion working in a corresponding rack connected to the rudder post, so arranged that increased leverage was obtained as the rudder strains increased, thus enabling the rudder to be moved rapidly when the strains were light, and to be put hard over with smaller engines and with less steam consumption than were required with the old type of gear. This compensating gear was adopted with great success in British and foreign war vessels of all classes.

Notwithstanding his business activities he greatly interested himself in the auxiliary forces, having been for several years lieutenant-colonel of the Middlesex Yeomanry, which he brought to a high state of efficiency before resigning.

He was D.L. and J.P. for the county of Middlesex.

He died at his residence, Sunbury Court, Middlesex, on 24th September 1910, at the age of seventy-eight.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1869.

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