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British Industrial History

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Henry William Churchward

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1878 Obituary [1]

Henry William Churchward, the eldest son of William Henry Churchward, Assoc.Inst.C.E., was born at Plymouth on the 9th of January, 1849.

He received his education partly at the Malta Protestant College, and partly under Dr. Weymouth, late Head Master of the Portland Grammar School, Plymouth.

On the 26th of December, 1867, he was articled for five years to his father, the Resident Civil Engineer of Her Majesty’s Dockyard, Pembroke.

A year later he was appointed, by Admiralty Order, Draughtsman on the Civil Engineering staff of the same yard.

In January, 1874, he left Pembroke to enter upon the duties of Assistant Engineer and Manager of the Potosi Mining Company’s Gold Mines, situated on the river Orinoco, in the Estado de Guayana, Venezuela, South America; and on the retirement of the Senior Engineer and Manager of the mines in the following July, he succeeded to the entire charge of the enterprise. He furnished an exhaustive report, with drawings, of the condition of the company’s works at this time, and laid down comprehensive plans for the future prosecution of the mines. These were approved by the company, and the result has been an increase in the production of gold fully bearing out the soundness of Mr. Churchward’s calculations.

Among the works which he designed and carried out at the mines was a railway 2 miles in length for the transport of ore to the reduction works. He introduced a locomotive engine to work the line, and effected a saving of 10s. per ton in the carriage of the ore alone. This was the first locomotive engine in the State of Guayana.

He also introduced other steam machinery and modern appliances by which considerable improvement and economy were effected in the general work of the mines, especially in the amalgamating and ore-dressing processes; and on the 23rd of March, 1875, he was elected a Member of the Executive Committee of the Bullion Transport.

Just prior to his untimely decease he commenced the erection of powerful pumping machinery.

By unremitting labour and the exercise of sound judgment, he carried on his arduous and onerous duties for a period of upwards of three years, though suffering at intervals from attacks of fever, and brought the enterprise to a most successful issue. Whilst thus pursuing a most active career he was seized with illness, on the 15th July, 1877, which terminated fatally within forty-eight hours.

Mr. H. W. Churchward was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 7th of March, 1876.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Institution of Civil Engineers Minutes of the Proceedings