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Beauchamp Tower

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Beauchamp Tower (1845-1904)


1905 Obituary [1]

BEAUCHAMP TOWER was born on 13th January 1845 at Morton Rectory, in Essex, of which place his father was rector, and was educated at Uppingham School.

He commenced his engineering career as a pupil at the Elswick Works, Newcastle-on-Tyne, in 1861, and, after the completion of his four years' pupilage, remained at the works as draughtsman for a few months, leaving in 1866 to take charge of the construction of a number of iron steamers at the Tyne Iron Works, where he remained until 1868.

In 1869 he became assistant to the late Mr. William Froude, F.R.S., helping him in the preparation of the plant for the Admiralty Experimental Works at Torquay, and designed some of the apparatus.

During this period he invented a speed indicator, which was fitted to several ships of the Royal Navy; he worked with Mr. Froude until 1872, when his health gave way, necessitating a year's trip in a sailing vessel to the South Sea Islands.

On his return he carried out, in the years 1874-1875, an extensive series of experiments on torpedoes, the work being undertaken on behalf of Sir William Armstrong and Co.

In 1875 his reputation as a careful and ingenious experimentalist led to his employment by Lord Rayleigh in some experiments in connection with his work on the "Theory of Sound."

In 1877 he rejoined Mr. Froude's staff, and assisted in the development of the marine-engine dynamometer. Mr. Froude's health broke down, and he asked Mr. Tower to accompany him in his voyage to the Cape, where he died.

On Mr. Tower's return to England, in 1878, he commenced practice on his own account, and it was then that he developed his ingenious spherical engine, which was largely employed for some years when high rotary speeds were needed.

Early in the "eighties" he began the great work of his life, namely the construction of the gyroscopic "steady platform" for searchlights and guns at sea. The device was tested by the Admiralty, who encouraged the inventor to devote his time to these experiments; but who, finally, in spite of the success of the trials, decided that the apparatus was unsuitable for the service.

The principal reason given for this decision was that the weight needed for the "steady platform" could be more usefully employed in carrying an extra gun or ammunition. Though naturally disheartened, he proceeded to adapt his invention for use on cross-channel steamers, and was engaged on this work at the time of his death.

Mr. Tower was best known to engineers in general by his experiments on journal friction, and during the period from 1882 to 1891 he was busily engaged in making experiments for the Committee on Friction Experiments, appointed by this Institution. The First Report, in which the machine and method of experimenting were described, was presented to the Institution in 1883. The Second Report, on the Oil Pressure in a Bearing, was read in 1885; the Third Report, on the Friction of a Collar Bearing, in 1888; and the Fourth Report, on the Friction of a Pivot Bearing, was read in 1891.

His death took place suddenly from haemorrhage on the brain at his residence near Brentwood, Essex, on 31st December 1904, in his sixtieth year.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1883; and was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and of the Institution of Naval Architects.


1905 Obituary [2]



1905 Obituary [3]



1905 Obituary [4]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1905 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  2. 1905 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  3. The Engineer 1905/01/06 page 9.
  4. Engineering 1905 Jan-Jun: Index: General Index