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British Industrial History

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Alfred William Bennis

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Alfred William Bennis (c1870-1948) of Bennis Combustion, Ltd

1948 Obituary [1]

"As briefly recorded in our last issue, the death took place on Tuesday, May 4th, at his home, 3, Downaide Road, Bristol, of Mr. Alfred W. Bennis, the chairman and managing director of Bennis Combustion, Ltd., of Little Hulton, near Bolton. His death, at the age of 78, will be widely regretted by engineers, especially those engaged in the power industry and the making of coalutilisation plants. Alfred William Bennis came of Quaker stock and he received his education at the Friends School, at Ackworth, near Pontefract. After attending technical classes in Bolton, he entered in 1886 his father's business, with which he continued a close connection up to the time of his death. It will be recalled that the business was started in Liverpool about 1870, when Mr. Edward Bennis joined Mr. Dillwyn Smith, of Philadelphia, and established works to develop the sprinkler type of mechanical stoker. A self-cleaning compressed air furnace followed after lengthy experiments, and a commercial stoker and furnace was produced... Read more"

1949 Obituary [2]

"ALFRED WILLIAM BENNIS, whose death at the age of seventy eight occurred on 4th May 1948, was the chairman of Messrs. Bennis Combustion, Ltd., of Little Hulton, near Bolton, and had been identified with that firm for the whole of his long professional career, including his apprenticeship, which he began to serve in 1886. He will be remembered for the prominent part he played in the development of the sprinkler stoker with the com pressed-air furnace, and later the coking stoker and the air draught stoker. He was chiefly responsible for the perfecting of the design of the Bennis Quadrum Boiler, and he had many inventions and numerous patents to his credit, and was the author of a paper on "Automatic Stokers", an abridged version of which appeared in the PROCEEDINGS in 1921.

Quite early in his career Mr. Bennis became interested in the application of mechanical stokers to marine boilers, and as far back as 1895 he equipped two Spanish ships with that type of boiler firing and personally attended the trials. This innovation, for certain practical reasons, did not prove popular, but the introduction of the air-draught sprinkler stoker induced Mr. Bennis to persist with his experiments and after trying it out on a Lancashire boiler in 1926 he successfully equipped, in 1934, the steamer Manchester Hero, belonging to Manchester Liners, Ltd., with the Bennis system of marine stoking, the results obtained leading the owners to fit several further ships with the same system. Throughout his career he was keenly interested in methods of raising steam at low cost and brought out a works magazine in which these ideas were ventilated. After attending technical classes in Bolton he entered his father's business in that town and obtained a thorough course of training in the engineering works and foundry. Later he was employed as an erector, his duties in that direction taking him all over the Continent.

On the conclusion of two years' experience as assistant manager to the Deansgate Foundry Co (subsequently merged with Messrs. E. Bennis and Company, Ltd.) he was admitted to partnership in the former firm in 1892. He was appointed general manager three years later and at the same time took over the duties of that office for Messrs. E. Bennis and Company with a seat on the board of directors. On the merger of the two companies in the Bennis Combustion Company he became chairman and managing director. Mr. Bennis was a member of the Institution for fifty-three years having been elected an Associate Member in 1895 and transferred to Member ship four years later. He was also an Associate of the Institution of Electrical Engineers."

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