Henry Bessemer Fact File Biography: Lifespan: 1813 - 1898 *** Full Name: Henry Bessemer *** Occupation: English Inventor *** Date of Birth: Henry Bessemer was born on January 19th 1813 *** Place of Birth: Henry Bessemer was born in Charlton, Hertfordshire, England *** Family background: His father was Anthony Bessemer who was an engineer and inventor and who would become a member of the French Academy of Science for his amendments on the optical microscope, his father was also a type founder *** Early life and childhood: He grew up in Hertfordshire *** Education: Henry Bessemer was largely self-taught ***
Henry Bessemer Fact 1: Henry Bessemer was born on January 19th and during the 19th century period in history when scientific discoveries were being made and innovations in mathematics, physics, biology, electricity and chemistry were moving very fast.
Henry Bessemer Fact 2: His first inventive success came when he created six steam-powered machines that were used for making bronze powder which gained him much wealth and recognition.
Henry Bessemer Fact 3: This process was also used for making gold paint. Upon examining the powder already in production in Nuremberg, the only place at the time manufacturing the powder, he simply replicated the process and made improvements to it.
Henry Bessemer Fact 4: It was a very early form of reverse engineering.
Henry Bessemer Fact 5: Another of his inventions involved sugar cane and machine that could crush the cane in a far more advanced process than previously done.
Henry Bessemer Fact 6: With his modifications to the process he was able to produce the powder in England for a fraction of the cost and the profits he made went into further inventions.
Henry Bessemer Fact 7: In 1848 he had devised a method of making a continuing ribbon of plate glass but it proved unprofitable.
Henry Bessemer Fact 8: Between 1850 and 1855 he was consumed with trying to make less expensive steel for ordnance construction and finally succeeded in patenting his method in 1855.
Henry Bessemer Fact 9: The following year, at the British Association in Cheltenham, he explained the process and it would be published in The Times entitled “The Manufacture of Iron Without Fuel”.
Henry Bessemer Fact 10: It required the use of oxygen in air propelled through molten pig iron which in turn burnt off the impurities and so created steel.
Henry Bessemer Fact 11: It was a breakthrough that would see an end to such tragedies as the Dee bridge disaster in 1847, the Bull bridge accident and the Wooton bridge collapse of 1860 as well as the Tay Bridge disaster in 1879 all due to cast iron and wrought iron structures collapsing.
Henry Bessemer Fact 12: Although steel had been available it was hugely expensive as it had previously been difficult to make. Henry Bessemer Fact 18: Bessemer decided to open his own steel making plant and eventually when his output began to pick up and he was able to offer steel at prices considerably less than other manufacturers of the lesser quality steel he began to sell his licenses and the royalties exceeded one million pounds sterling.
Henry Bessemer Fact 13: Once this new process was more widely used it made steel production easier and cheaper.
Henry Bessemer Fact 14: Purely by chance did Bessemer become involved in the steel industry and it only came about because of his interest in the use of steel for the manufacture and improvement in the creation of guns.
Henry Bessemer Fact 15: A Swedish ironmaster, Goran Fredrik Goransson began using a purer type of charcoal pig iron found in his own country and would become the first producer of good quality steel using Bessemer’s method.
Henry Bessemer Fact 16: This prompted Bessemer to try and obtain purer iron from Cumberland hematite but as the quantity of carbon was problematic to control, he had limited success.
Henry Bessemer Fact 17: Robert Mushet of the Darkhill Ironworks proved that the carbon quantity could be controlled which improved the final product but when Bessemer attempted to get the industry to use the new system there were reluctant to say the least.
Henry Bessemer Fact 19: As a result of the work Mushet contributed to assisting Bessemer improve his method, Bessemer bestowed upon him a annual pension of three hundred pounds.
Henry Bessemer Fact 20: W M Lord said of Bessemer "Sir Henry Bessemer was somewhat exceptional. He had developed his process from an idea to a practical reality in his own lifetime and he was sufficiently of a businessman to have profited by it. In so many cases, inventions were not developed quickly and the plums went to other persons than the inventors."
Henry Bessemer Fact 21: Bessemer was a consummate inventor and would come to hold at least one hundred and twenty nine other patents all registered between 1838 and 1883.
Henry Bessemer Fact 22: Henry Bessemer died on March 15th 1898 aged eighty five years and his body laid to rest in West Norwood Cemetery in South London.
Influence & Legacy: He was Knighted in June of 1879 for his contributions to science.