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Henry Gustav Simon

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Henry Gustav Simon (1835–1899), industrialist

1835 Henry Simon was born in Silesia

As a liberal he moved to Switzerland owing to the autocratic political climate prevalent in Prussia.

1860 he first emigrated from Zürich to Manchester, where he later established two engineering firms: Henry Simon Ltd, which produced flour milling machinery, and Simon-Carves Ltd, which became one of two leading British manufacturers of coke ovens. These were both very successful and, in due course, became the Simon Engineering Group with a worldwide market.

1879 Henry and his second wife, Emily Stoehr (1858–1920), had their first son, Ernest Emil Darwin, who went on to become first Baron Simon of Wythenshawe, an industrialist and politician.

1885 Gold award to H. T. Simon at International Inventions Exhibition for the Simon-Carves coke ovens with continuous recuperation of heat and recovery of bye-products[1].

1899 Died in Manchester.


1899 Obituary [2]

Henry Simon was born in Brieg, Silesia, on 7th June 1835, his father being a business man, a county magistrate, and a director of one of the earliest German railways, and his mother an authoress of some distinction. His uncle, Heinrich Simon, having as a leading member of the Prussian parliament taken a prominent part in the revolution of 1848, was compelled to leave Brieg, and was followed by his nephew to Zurich, where the latter attended the cantonal public school.

In 1854, at the age of nineteen, he entered the University of Breslau; and subsequently returning to Switzerland studied engineering at the Swiss Federal Technical College, Zurich, where he obtained the engineering degree in 1859. He then went to Berlin, to go through his period of military service, first in the artillery, and afterwards in the guards. On the completion of this duty, he was engaged as a draughtsman by Messrs. Rohrig, Rohrig, and Konig at Magdeburg, who were manufacturers of water motors, turbines, and machinery for sugar works.

In 1860 he came to England, and was appointed resident engineer for railway contracts in Russia by Messrs. Jametel of Manchester, for whom he spent the greater part of 1861-2 in Russia on the railway between Warsaw and Wilna, superintending the execution of various works for a distance of about 800 miles.

During 1868-4 he made business journeys in Italy and France. Coming to England again, he established himself as a consulting engineer in Manchester, where he became naturalized as a British subject. Nearly the whole of 1867 he spent in Paris in connection with the English section of the International Exhibition of that year. Subsequently he was actively engaged in the supply of locomotives, rails, wheels and axles, and other material to Austrian, Rhenish, and other continental railways. His mechanical training early led him to realize the defects of the old process of flour milling ; and he took up in its junky the plan of roller milling now adopted in nearly all civilised countries, whereby the production of flour has been cheapened and increased. Although originally no better clue was placed in his hands than a crude three-high roller-mill which performed to advantage some of the work previously done by stones, he was fully convinced thereby that the principle underlying the use of rollers would revolutionize the milling industry; and for many years almost all his energy was devoted to the development and application of this principle.

From 1879 to 1897 he took out nearly thirty patents, dealing principally with the three most important processes in flour milling, namely grinding, purifying, and dressing; and also with the method of cleaning wheat in preparation for grinding, by washing and drying it. The last constituted an epoch in flour milling, and the advantages thereby gained were equal in importance to those resulting from the substitution of rollers in place of stones. On the subject of roller milling he contributed a paper to the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1882 (Proceedings, vol. Ixx, page 191), and another to this Institution in 1889 (Proceedings, page 148).

The first complete roller-mill which he fitted up in England without the use of stones was for Mr. Arthur McDougall of Manchester in 1878, and in Ireland for Messrs. E. Shackleton and Sons of Carlow in 1879; the first automatic roller flour mill in England was for Messrs. F. A. Frost and Sons of Chester in 1881. These were soon followed by larger mills in Leeds, London, Leith, Hull, York, and elsewhere; and by the largest of all in Rio de Janeiro, which formed the special subject of his paper in 1889.

He also introduced with much success the Simon-Carves coke ovens, by which the loss of ammonia and tar by-products is saved, as well as the loss entailed in vegetation destroyed upon the land that was laid waste by the sulphurous smoke emitted from the short chimneys of the ordinary coke ovens; the plan was first carried out on a large scale in 1882 at the extensive collieries of Messrs. Pease and Partners in the county of Durham, and has since been adopted in many other places.

Other inventions which he improved and introduced into this country were the Chaudron method of sinking shafts, the Lehmann hot-air engine, and the Galland plan of pneumatic malting. He was the prime mover in the erection of the Manchester Crematorium (Proceedings 1894, page 488), of which he was the chairman; his design of the furnace there employed has since been adopted for the municipal crematorium at Shanghai, and also for that at Hull.

He was the first chairman of the Manchester Labourers' Dwellings; and more recently was one of the originators of the Manchester Pure Milk Supply.

In 1895 he endowed the Henry Simon professorship of German literature in Owens College, Manchester, besides contributing munificently to the establishment of a new laboratory there. He became a Member of this Institution in 1871, and was also a Member of the Austrian Society of Engineers and Architects, and of the French Society of Civil Engineers.

His death took place at his residence at Didsbury, Manchester, on 22nd July 1899, at the age of sixty-four.


1899 Obituary [3]

HENRY SIMON was born in Brieg, Silesia, on the 7th June, 1835.

His father was Landsgerichtsrath, an active business man. His mother was a highly gifted woman who became widely known as an authoress of some distinction. Henry Simon's father was a director of one of the first German Railways, and as the son passed much of his early youth in and upon works of the railway, his natural inclination to the study of mechanics was aided by the opportunities thus afforded of acquaintance with practical details. It was, however, by his uncle, Heinrich Simon, who took a leading part in the revolution of 1848, that young Henry Simon was largely influenced...... Henry Simon was always a firm and consistent supporter of the development of the democratic ideal. In consequence of the revolution Heinrich Simon was compelled to leave Brieg, and he was followed by his nephew.... At the age of 19 he entered the University of Breslau, but subsequently returned to Switzerland and studied engineering at the Federal Technical College, Zurich, obtaining the engineering degree at this college in 1859. He then left Switzerland and went to Berlin to undertake military service.... he entered, as a draughtsman, the establishment of Messrs. Rohrig and Konig, of Magdeburg, manufacturers of water-motors, turbines, and sugar-works plants. In 1860 he came to England, and was appointed superintendent and resident engineer for railway contracts in Russia by Messrs. Jametel, of Manchester. He spent the greater portion of 1861-62 in Russia.... superintending the execution of various works for a distance of about 300 miles. By naturalisation he became a British subject soon after.

... He travelled in Europe 1863-4.

Established as consulting engineer in Manchester c.1864. Spent nearly the whole of 1867 in Paris in connection with the English section of the International Exhibition there.

...his mechanical genius.... made him alive to the defects in the flour milling process, and the advantages of roller milling... now widely adopted. In the session 1881-2 Mr Simon read a paper before the Institution describing the new processes by which he proposed to remodel this industry. ... he fitted up a whole plant for Messrs F. A. Foster and Sons, of Chester, in the year 1881.

Mr Simon was largely instrumental for promoting the introduction of the Chaudron system for shaft sinking through water-bearing strata, of the Lehmann hot air engine, of the Galland system of pneumatic malting, and - in conjunction with Mr Carves - of improved coke ovens now known as "Simon-Carves by-product coke ovens." He pointed out the two-fold loss entailed in the use of the old coke ovens, viz the loss of ammonia and tar by-products, and the loss in vegetation destroyed over tracts of land laid waste by the sulphurous smoke poured from the ordinary beehive ovens. He was able to show that by the use of the Carves oven not only are vegetation and tree life spared but ammonia is produced as a sulphate, to play a useful part as manure; that gas is obtained as a fuel, and tar products condensed and stored in proper receptacles, instead of forming a nuisance.... Lastly an excellent coke for the blast furnaces is obtained. It was at the extensive collieries of Messrs Pease and Partners in Durham that this useful invention was first applied on a large scale.

....

His death took place at Manchester on the 22 July 1899. In 1895 he endowed the Henry Simon Professorship of German Literature at Owens College, and he was a magnificent contributor to the fund for the establishment of the new laboratory at Owens....


1899 Obituary [4]

HENRY SIMON died at his residence, Didsbury, near Manchester, on July 22, 1899. He was the son of a Government official of Brieg, in Silesia, and was born in 1835. In consequence of the revolution the family was compelled to leave Brieg, and they settled for a time at Zurich, where Mr. Henry Simon attended the cantonal public school.

At the age of nineteen he entered the University of Breslau, but subsequently returned to Switzerland to study engineering at the Federal Technical College, Zurich, where he graduated in engineering in 1859. He then went to Berlin to fulfil his military service, first in the artillery and then in the guards.

On the completion of his military service he commenced practice as an engineer in Magdeburg, in the establishment of Messrs. Rohrig, Rohrig & Konig. He then went to Russia, and later to France, and finally settled in Manchester, where he established himself as a consulting engineer. He spent the greater part of 1867 at the Paris International Exhibition, when he became a life-member of the Societe des Inge nieurs Civils de France. He took a lively and practical interest in local affairs, and took an active part in all educational, social, and municipal movements for the improvement of the city of his adoption, where he was most highly esteemed. Amongst his numerous benefactions to educational work was the endowment of a professorship in German Literature at Owens College, and he was a large contributor to the fund for the establishment of the new laboratories at that College. His genius was many-sided, and in his professional career he attained numerous and important successes. In regard to flour-milling machinery it is said that the mills constructed on the " Simon system" are of sufficient capacity to grind annually four times the average production of the United Kingdom.

In the session of 1881-82 Mr. Simon read a paper before the Institution of Civil Engineers describing his system of flour-milling. His more important achievement was, however, his improvement of the Carves coke ovens, to which he devoted the closest attention. Since the introduction on a large scale of the Simon-Carves coke ovens at the collieries of Messrs. Pease & Partners in the county of Durham many years ago, great progress has been made in the perfection of the system, which is now in operation in the principal coking districts throughout Europe. The enormous saving in the utilisation of the waste products in coking is well known, and is computed at several millions sterling annually. The installation of these ovens, which embodies all the latest improvements in the system, was visited by the members of the Iron and Steel Institute at the recent meeting in Manchester, when an• excursion was made to the Wharnecliffe-Silkstone Collieries for this purpose a few days after the death of Mr. Simon, a fact which was the subject of deep regret on the part of the members. He was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and of various kindred institutions on the Continent, in addition to other scientific societies in this country. He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1874, and contributed to the Proceedings important papers in 1877 on Chaudron's method of shaft-sinking, in 1880 on the utilisation of by-products in the manufacture of coke, and in 1885 on the development of the Simon-Carves coking process.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. London Gazette, 12 August 1885
  2. 1899 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  3. 1899 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  4. 1899 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries
  • Biography of Ernest Simon, ODNB [1]