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British Industrial History

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Francis Maxwell

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Francis Maxwell (1886-1951) son of William Maxwell

1951 Obituary [1]

"Sugar engineers and technologists in many parts of the world will learn with deep regret of the death at his home at Selsdon Park, Sanderstead, Surrey, of Dr. Francis Maxwell, in his sixty-fifth year. He was the son of William Maxwell, who was a pioneer in engineering matters connected with the cane sugar industry. Dr. Maxwell studied at the Eidgenossisch Technische Hochschule in Zurich, after which he went on to Heidelburg University to continue his research work on the physical sciences. While at Hoidelburg, in 1914, after the outbreak of war, he was interned in Ruhloben Concentration Camp for the duration of the war. In 1918 he returned to London and shortly afterwards he set up his practice as a consultant for scientific and engineering problems connected with the cane sugar industry. His practical experience and scientific knowledge bore fruit in new refining processes and the invention of the crusher-shredder associated with his name. He was widely known not only in this country, but in Australia, India, South Africa, Hawaii, Java and The Netherlands. For a time he was closely associated with the Java testing station for the cane sugar industry; he also designed and equipped several modern sugar factories in India and other places abroad.

He will long be remembered by two standard treatises on " Economic Aspects of Cane Sugar Production, and Modern Milling of Sugar Cane." Dr. Maxwell was a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chemistry. His death at a comparatively early age will be widely regretted by his many friends both at home and abroad."

1952 Obituary [2]

"FRANCIS MAXWELL, D.Sc., whose death occurred at Sanderstead, Surrey, on 1st June 1951 at the age of sixty-five, was the son of William Maxwell, an acknowledged leader in the application of engineering science to the cane sugar industry. His own professional career was devoted to the scientific and engineering aspects of that industry, in which he made notable advances. Dr. Maxwell received his general education at schools in Holland and Switzerland and his technical training at the Polytechnicum at Zurich, where he was awarded the mechanical engineering diploma. Later he continued his researches in physics at Heidelberg University and while there was interned at Ruhleben in 1914 for the duration of the war. Before this he had gained professional experience as technical adviser to the Credit Foncier, Mauritius, and as chemical adviser was responsible for the installation of Maxwell Megass Furnaces besides superintending six sugar factories.

In 1918 Dr. Maxwell returned to London and shortly afterwards began to practise as a consulting engineer, specializing as a sugar scientist and technologist, in which capacity he combined wide scientific knowledge and close practical experience. He was, in fact, an international figure in the cane sugar world, being widely known not only in Great Britain, but also in Australia, India, South Africa, Hawaii, Java, and the Netherlands. In Java, in particular, he was regarded as a leading authority on the whole process of the preparation and purification of sugar from cane and was closely associated with the celebrated testing station there. In India he was responsible for the design and equipment of two of the first sugar factories on modern lines. Moreover, he invented new refining processes and machines for dealing with the cane, among which the Maxwell crusher-shredder deserves special notice. He also wrote the two standard treatises on "Economic Aspects of Cane Sugar Production" and "Modern Milling of Sugar Cane". Dr. Maxwell was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1911 and transferred to Membership in 1922. He was also a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chemistry."

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