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Henry Bessemer

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Henry Bessemer

Henry Bessemer

Henry Bessemer, who was born on January 19, 1813, inherited his love of

inventing from his father. Old Bessemer had worked in Holland and helped to

build the first steam-engine in that country. Later he designed a new kind

of lathe and made some other inventions while he was in France before the

French Revolution of 1848.

Henry has born in a small village near Hitchin, in Hertfordshire. He never

cared much for toys or games or for playing with other children and loved

to watch the old flour mill in operation down by the water.

At an early age Henry became interested in drawing. He spent hours in the

fields where he sketched the farm animals or the leaves of trees. He soon

became very good at modeling as well.

As he grew older, he longed to try his hand at making moulds of his models

and then casting them in his father’s foundry. But his father did not allow

him to enter the foundry alone. He aallowed him to enter it only when he

himself was three. This was because he did not want other people to know

about the technicalities of this work. But Henry ignored this rule and

every two months when the large melting furnace was used found his away

into the melting house. He was usually discovered, but he not only managed

to do his casting but also discovered his father’s production secrets.

Old Bessemer soon understood that his little son was really very much

interested in metals, and then he began to encourage him and to teach him.

[pic] Bessemer’s artillery

Henry went to school. When he was fifteen he asked his father to let him

leave school and work in his foundry: he wanted to learn more about metals.

And his father agreed.

Henry loved his work. The experience also gave him a useful insight into

technical draughtsmanship, and important branch of an inventor’s work, at

which, with his natural gift for drawing, he soon excelled. After about a

year Henry kknew enough to begin to make articles of his own invention. One

of these articles was a small machine for moulding tiny bricks out of white

pipeclay. The bricks were quite useless, but young Bessemer was proud of

his work.

First Inventions

Early in 1830, when Henry was seventeen, his father decided to leave

Carlton where they then lived and to transfer his business to London. Henry

was very glad when he was told of his father’s plan.

In London he decided to become an iinventor. For a time he had many and

varied ideas, but he failed to realize them. First he tried to cast metal

ornaments in brass instead of in dull lead. He sold some of his new

ornaments to gift shops, but he made only a small profit.

Bessemer then turned his attention to designing a new typesetting machine.

At that time a printer had to pick out all his letters by hand. It was very

tedious work.

Bessemer designed a machine with a key-boar rather like that of a piano

that sorted out the letters required in a fraction of the time simply by

depressing the necessary keys. It was a clever invention, and it worked

most efficiently. When it was tested it was found that an inexperienced

printer could set 6000 letters an hour whereas by the old hand method a

skilled man could set only about 1700 letters an hour.

In 1833, he started work at another idea. At that time all legal deeds and

documents, to make them legal, were a tamped with adhesive stamps. But

these stamps were easy to forge, and also they could be removed from old

and useless documents and used again. Bessemer discovered that the

governments were losing a lot of money each year by such frauds. So he

began to work out a new system of stamping in which adhesive stamps were

not used, and documents could be perforated with an impression of the

stamp, which would be impossible either to forge or to remove.

His idea, however, was not adopted because a simpler process of only

dating the stamps had become known by that time.

However Bessemer soon was asked by a London firm if could work out some

method of embossing velvet with figured designs. A number of firms had

tried to impress designs on the velvet by means of heavy rollers, but their

results were not good. The long pile rode up and the designs disappeared.

No matter what they did, they could not keep the pile flat.

Bessemer, after a good deal of experimenting, decided that the only way to

make a good impression on the velvet was to heat the material and to emboss

it in that condition. There were many difficulties, Bessemer said letter,

but in the end he solved his problem. He designed a machine with a metal

roller in which he arranged a number of burners. These burners kept the

roller in at a constant heat and the machine did the work perfectly.

Some time later his sister asked him to gild her volume of flower

paintings. While he was doing this Bessemer invented a way of producing

cheap gold powder.

He built a large machine for grinding brass, and placed it in a room of

his house. Then he started his own factory of gold powder.

[pic] Bessemer

More Useful Inventions

When his factory began doing so well, Bessemer again spent all his time

working out inventions. During this period he designed a new press for

extracting the juice from sugar-canes, a steam fan for ventilating mines

and centrifugal pump for land draining, which could raise twenty tons of

water an hour.


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