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Henry John Marten

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Henry John Marten (1827-1892)

1853 of Wolverhampton

Brother to Edward Bindon Marten

Had son E. D. Marten


1892 Obituary [1]

HENRY JOHN MARTEN was born on 3rd February 1827 at Plaistow, Essex.

His grandfather, Robert Humphrey Marten, was much interested as a director in various London waterworks and in the Thames Tunnel; and his grandson inherited his liking for engineering.

He was articled to Mr. Thomas Wicksteed, who did much for introducing the Cornish engine for waterworks pumping in London. During his apprenticeship he was resident engineer at the Hull Water Works, and afterwards at the Wolverhampton Water Works. At the latter he remained as engineer for the company after the expiration of his articles; and there changed the mode of supply from the intermittent to the constant system, of which he was an early and strong advocate. As the supply at Wolverhampton was given by the working of specially designed engines, which automatically adjusted their speed to the supply needed, experiments and tests were able to be made, which have often been quoted, as to the demand under the constant system for every hour of the twenty-four; these set at rest the fear that the mains laid out for the intermittent system would not be able on the constant system to supply during the hours of greatest demand. In 1856 (Proceedings, page 7) he gave a full description of the Wolverhampton pumping engines to this Institution, of which he became a Member in 1853.

Waterworks at many of the South Staffordshire and neighbouring towns engaged his attention for some years, until he had to take charge as partner of the Parkfield Furnaces, near Wolverhampton; and much of the information that he gathered for his own guidance was given to the Institution in 1859 in a paper on hot-blast ovens (Proceedings, pages 62 and 97).

His experience in pumping from mines enabled him to assist at the application for rather novel legislation, which was embodied in the South Staffordshire Mines Drainage Act; and he subsequently became one of the three arbitrators to the commission appointed for carrying out the provisions therein enacted.

He had a large practice as a parliamentary witness on such subjects as waterworks, drainage, and river conservancy, in regard to which his experience as engineer to the River Severn and to the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal made him familiar with the matters involved in such enquiries; and his last public appearance was before the Royal Commission upon Metropolitan water supply, in support of the case put forward by the Thames Conservancy for storage reservoirs in the upper Thames basin.

He also constructed sewage works in various parts of the country, and had some important work in hand for the improvement of canals and waterways, notably the improvement works now being carried out on the River Severn; many such works on the Continent he had visited with a view to carrying out similar works for facilitating the water traffic of the Midland district; and he was preparing a paper on the subject for this Institution, which his failing health prevented him from completing.

His death took place at his residence at Codsall, near Wolverhampton, on 3rd November 1892, in the sixty-sixth year of his age.

For some years previously his eldest son, Mr. E. D. Marten, had been his partner.


1892 Obituary [2]

HENRY J. MARTEN Was born in February, 1827, at Plaistow, Essex. He was articled to Mr. Wickstead, the eminent engineer, and was the resident engineer under Mr. Wickstead during the construction of waterworks in Hull, and subsequently of the first Wolverhampton Waterworks. He continued with the latter company as their engineer for some years after the completion of the works.

Amongst other local works constructed by Mr. Marten were the Wolverhampton Waterworks extensions at Goldthorn Hill and Cosford, the Stourbridge District Waterworks, the Wellington (Shropshire) Waterworks, the Bridgnorth Waterworks, the South Staffordshire Waterworks (in partnership with the late Mr. Maclean, M.P.), the Tamworth District Waterworks, the West Gloucestershire Waterworks, the Dudley Sewage Works, the Tipton Sewage Works, and Tettenhall Sewage Works. He was engineer to the Severn Commissioners, and at the time of his death was carrying out a very important scheme of improvement in the navigation of that river. He was also consulting engineer to the Corporation of West Bromwich with respect to their sewage works, and he acted as consulting engineer to the Board of Agriculture, and to their predecessors, the Land Commissioners, the Corporation of Walsall, the York Waterworks Company, the Thames Conservators, the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal Company, and other important bodies.

At the instance of an influential body of traders in the district, he some years ago made a complete survey of the waterways between Birmingham and London, and submitted an exhaustive report, setting forth a scheme for their improvement. He was also consulted by the Leeds and Liverpool Canal Company with respect to proposed improvements. He had been for many years one of the statutory arbitrators under the South Staffordshire Mines Drainage Acts.

In Parliamentary work and arbitrations, Mr. Marten was much sought after. He was usually retained in all the important water cases before Committees, one of his latest retainers being on behalf of the Corporation of Birmingham, in connection with their Water Bill of last session. His most recent important appearance in public was in the autumn of 1892, when he gave evidence before the Royal Commission on metropolitan water supply.

He married, first, the only daughter of the late Mr. E. B. Dimmack, ironmaster, J.P. and D.L. for Staffordshire and J.P. for the borough of Wolverhampton, who also served as High Sheriff for Monmouthshire about forty years ago. He had four sons, three of whom are living, and three daughters, all living, by her. For many years he carried on the Parkfield Ironworks in partnership with Mr. Dimmack. His second wife was the widow of the late Mr. William Pilkington, J.P., of Blackburn and Wood End, Yorkshire.

Mr. Marten had two brothers living, the elder being Mr. A. G. Marten, Q.C., and the younger Mr. E. B. Marten of Stourbridge, the latter of whom is the engineer to the South Staffordshire Mines Drainage Commissioners and other corporations.

He was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a member of Council of the Royal Meteorological Society, and a fellow of the 'Geological Society. He was an original member of the Iron and Steel Institute. He died on the 3rd November, 1892.


1892 Obituary[3]



1893 Obituary [4]

HENRY JOHN MARTEN, born on the 3rd of February, 1827, was the son of the late Mr. Robert Giles Marten, of Plaistow, Essex, and grandson of the late Mr. Robert Humphrey Marten, a London merchant, who was Deputy Chairman of the Commercial Dock Company, and a Director of the Kent Waterworks Company and of the East London Waterworks Company.

He was educated at Mill Hill School and at the age of sixteen was articled to the late Thomas Wicksteed, Engineer to the East London Water Co, who at that time enjoyed an extensive private practice.

When between eighteen and nineteen years of age, Mr. Marten was sent to Hull and subsequently to Wolverhampton where Mr. Wicksteed was constructing waterworks, and after a few months he took charge of the latter as Resident Engineer, although still a pupil. On the completion of the works the Directors of the company, who had formed a high opinion of Mr. Marten's abilities, requested him to continue in their service, formally appointing him as Engineer with the right of private practice.

For the next few years, although a very young man, he was largely concerned in the practice of hydraulic engineering. He carried out reservoir extensions for the Wolverhampton company, constructing for it, at Goldthorn Hill, near that town, what are believed to be almost the first covered service-reservoirs in this country.....[more]


His wife Martha Marten died 1900 aged 70.[5]

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1892 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  2. 1892 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries
  3. The Engineers 1892/11/11, p417.
  4. 1893 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  5. The Engineer 1900/07/06, p013.