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British Industrial History

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Charles Larkin Francis

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Charles Larkin Francis (1801-1873) of Charles Francis and Sons

1838 Charles Larkin Francis of South Lambeth, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]

1874 Obituary [2]

Mr. CHARLES LARKIN FRANCIS was born in South Lambeth on the 10th of December, 1801, and was the eldest son of Mr. Charles Francis, of Belgrave House, Vauxhall, a Justice of the Peace for the county of Surrey.

To within a short period of his death he was the head of the firm of Charles Francis and Sons, cement manufacturers, of London and the Isle of Wight, whose business transactions extended to all parts of the world, by far the largest part of the trade coming from foreign countries. The extensive fortifications and harbours of Odessa, Trieste, Cherbourg, and the Brazils owe a large portion of their strength and solidity to the cement exported by this firm.

In the Great Exhibition of 1851 he exhibited an expeditious and cheap mode of erecting dwellings for the poor - at once dry, healthy, and more durable than brick-made of concrete, viz., cement and shingle, and received a medal and other acknowledgments.

In early life he travelled a good deal abroad, and resided in different parts of Italy and Germany. At one time he was a marble merchant, and visited Carrara to inspect the marble quarries, for which purpose he had letters of introduction from Chantrey to Canova.

He was exceedingly fond of literary and scientific studies, particularly engineering and geology, and for four or five years he gratuitously wrote the leading article in the Wilts and Gloucester Standard.

He was the originator of the City Steamboat Company, of which he was chairman for many years, and repeatedly received handsome testimonials from the Company for his great labours in its behalf. Ever ready to help those who required advice and assistance, he was beloved by all who had the happiness of his acquaintance.

Mr. Francis was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 6th of February, 1838.

He died at his residence in Gloucester Street, S.W., on the 3rd of February, 1875, aged seventy-one years, and was buried in Norwood Cemetery.

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