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Frederick Cook Stephens

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Frederick Cook Stephens (1829-1889)

1889 Obituary [1]

FREDERICK COOK STEPHENS was born at Dowlais, Glamorganshire, on the 21st of September, 1820.

His earlier years were spent in the engineering department, at Rhymney Ironworks, where he was apprenticed to the late Mr. John P. Roe, then engineer of the works.

Mr. Stephens remained in Rhymney, until 1852, when he was appointed assistant engineer at Cwm Avon Works, Glamorganshire, where he remained until the latter part of 1857, when he received the appointment of engineer to the East Indian Iron Company. He went out to the Company’s Beypoor Ironworks on the Malabar coast, at which station the company had a blast-furnace, and puddling and rolling-mills under the management of Mr. Beaumont.

Mr. Stephens afterwards removed to Trincomalee, where he completed the erection of a blast-furnace, and blowing-engines, and put the furnace to work on cold-blast charcoal iron. In 1860, on the closing of these works, Mr. Stephens went back to Beypoor, where he erected Bessemer plant, with fixed converter, and then returned to England in 1861, after the lapse of his four years’ agreement with the East India Company.

He had not long returned to England, when he received the appointment of engineer to the ironworks of Messrs. Ybarra Brothers, Desierto, Bilbao, Spain, which he undertook in the year 1862, and with whom he remained in sole charge for ten years, improving and remodelling the works, erecting new furnaces, and plant for modern requirements.

Leaving the service of the Messrs. Ybarra, Mr. Stephens formed an English company for the purchase of a valuable site, and erection of ironworks for smelting pig iron on the left bank of the Bilbao River at San Nicholas. Mr. Stephens was appointed managing director of the company, and the erection of the Cantabrian Ironworks was briskly proceeded with, and was on the eve of completion when the Carlist war of 1874 put a stop to further operations. After peace had been established, the company were urged to proceed with the work; but confidence in the country had been undermined, and it was decided to sell the property for what it would fetch. Failing a purchaser in England, the Cantabrian works were sold to the Marquks de Dfndela, for about one-third of the sum already spent on them, by whom they have been since. carried on at a great profit. Mr. Stephens took in hand the completion of the works which were duly started in the year 1877. He remained as manager until about 1880, and subsequently undertook general consulting work, and other business up to the time of his decease.

He died in Bilbao on the 6th of January, 1889, in his 60th year, and was buried in the English cemetery, by the side of his wife. Mr. Stephens was of a warm and genial disposition, and commanded the esteem of all with whom he had dealings. By a large circle of friends and acquaintances, both Spanish and English, his presence will long be missed. Mr. Stephens had a sound and comprehensive knowledge of mechanical engineering, and the manufacture of iron and steel, and the laying out of the Cantabrian Ironworks, and its lofty and well proportioned chimney of about 230 feet will always remain a worthy monument to his engineering skill.

From the year 1881 to the time of his death, Mr. Stephens was Managing Director of the Bilbao and Santura Tramway, 9 miles in length, in the formation of which he took an active part.

Mr. Stephens was elected a Member of the Institution on the 4th of December, 1888.

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