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Alfred Morcom

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Alfred Morcom (1848-1905) of Belliss and Morcom

Followed into the company by his sons Reginald Keble Morcom (1877-1961) and Edgar Llewellyn Morcom (1880-1957).


1905 Obituary [1]

ALFRED MORCOM was born in the Isle of Man in 1848, and was a descendant of an old Cornish family.

He was educated at the Grammar School, Tavistock, and in 1863 obtained by competition an engineering studentship at H.M. Steam Factory, Keyham, where he was trained in the various workshops and received his technical and theoretical instruction in the dockyard school.

In 1867 he obtained a scholarship at the Royal School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering then established in South Kensington, but since merged into the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

In 1871 he passed out of the College with honours and obtained a first-class fellowship.

Shortly afterwards he was appointed as First Assistant Engineer on H.M.S. "Bellerophon," and, when the "Challenger" expedition was fitted out, he was nominated by the Admiralty as a scientific assistant to Professor Wyville Thomson. The Professor wishing, however, to select his own assistant, Mr. Morcom was appointed to H.M.S. "Jumna," an Indian troopship, where he obtained a useful experience, as the machinery was largely experimental.

In 1874 he was appointed to the Admiralty as assistant to the Engineer-in-Chief of the Navy, and Lecturer on Marine-Engine Design at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

Three years later he became Assistant Chief Engineer at Portsmouth Dockyard, where ho had specially to do with the development of the "mosquito" fleet of torpedo boats, steam-pinnaces, etc.

On the death of the Chief Engineer, he was appointed for one year to the vacant position to complete the arrangements in connection with the transport and warships for the Egyptian expedition and bombardment of Alexandria.

In 1882 he was promoted to the position of Chief Engineer at Sheerness Dockyard, and remained there until 1883 when he joined Mr. G. E. Belliss of Birmingham as partner to continue the development of the business of building steam-launches, steam-pinnaces, and torpedo-boat machinery. In a short time the firm was building machinery for warships of the torpedo-gunboat class up to 3,000 H.P., and later for the ships of the destroyer class up to 5,000 H.P.

In 1889 the Firm turned their attention to the adoption of their fast-running engines for the purpose of driving dynamos, and eventually developed the high-speed double-acting enclosed self-lubricating engine which emanated from their works, and for the manufacture of which the Ledsam Street Works had to be enlarged from time to time, and finally for its development the huge works at Rotten Park Street were constructed.

At the Jubilee Meeting of this Institution in Birmingham in 1897 he read a Paper on this engine. He became a Member of this Institution in 1897, and served on the Council in 1898. He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, of the Institution of Naval Architects, and other Institutions. He was also a Member of Council of the University of Birmingham.

His death took place somewhat unexpectedly after a short illness at his residence at Edgbaston, Birmingham, on 16th October 1905, at the age of fifty-seven.


1906 Obituary [2]

ALFRED MORCOM, born in the Isle of Man on the 4th June, 1848, was descended from an old Cornish family. His father, Mr. James Morcom, was an engineer of some note in his day, and among other works erected the big pumping-engines to drain the Haarlem Meer in Holland, for the historic firm of Harvey and Company, of Hayle. The subject of this notice received his early education at Tavistock Grammar School, and in 1863 passed into Keyham Dockyard as an engineer student. In 1867 he gained a scholarship at the Royal School of Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, South Kensington.... he passed out first of his year with a first-class fellowship and honours in mathematics and several other subjects. He was then appointed by the Admiralty first assistant engineer on the Bellerophon of the Channel fleet, and subsequently on the troopship "Jumna". Later, when the famous Challenger expedition was fitting out, Mr. Morcom was nominated by the Admiralty to the scientific staff, but in the event did not join the expedition.

. . . 1877 . . appointed instructor and lecturer on marine-engine design to the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, and at the same time he assisted in the office of the Engineer-in-chief of the Navy. In 1879 posted to Portsmouth Dockyard, where he served as assistant to the Chief Engineer, until the latter’s death, when Mr. Morcom became acting Chief Engineer of the Dockyard, relinquishing the appointment in 1883 for that of Chief Engineer of Sheerness Dockyard. . . .The torpedo-boat had been recently introduced into the Navy and was undergoing rapid development as a factor of naval warfare. To Mr. Morcom at Portsmouth fell the conduct of the long series of trials and experiments to which these craft were subjected... 1884 to join Mr. Belliss in partnership at the Ledsam-street Works, Birmingham. . . Together they undertook the construction of machinery for torpedo-gunboats and destroyers, and later took up the adaptation and manufacture of high-speed engines for electrical work.

.. in 1893 ... limited company under the style of G. E. Belliss and Company, Limited, which was changed in 1899 to Belliss and Morcom, Limited, Mr. Morcom becoming chairman in 1904, on the retirement of Mr. Belliss. Mr. Morcom died after a short illness at his residence, Trelawne, Edgbaston, Birmingham, on the 16th October, 1905, in his fifty-eighth year.



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