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John Brown (1823-1889)

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John Brown (1823-1889)

1855 Mining Engineer of Barnsley, joined I Mech E


1888 Obituary [1]

Mr. JOHN BROWN, C.E., who died in October last, in his sixty-fifth year, at his residence, Bristol Road, Birmingham, was connected with the mining industry of Staffordshire, where he was held in esteem by a large number of professional and personal friends. He was originally mining engineer at the Cannock Chase Collieries, and on retiring from that post, he acquired a prominent position as confidential agent and adviser in mining operations in the district. He also had an extensive practice, extending over the Midlands and northern districts, in mining arbitrations.

Mr. Brown was born in the year 1823, at Stafford. After completing his educational studies, he was articled to the late Mr. John T. Woodhouse, of Ashby-de-la-Zouche, being one of that engineer's first pupils. At the termination of his pupilage, lie was appointed by Mr. Woodhouse as his principal assistant. After a few years in that capacity, during which time, by study and observation, he acquired much practical information and technical knowledge, Mr. Brown determined to commence business for himself.

In 1853, he was engaged, along with Mr. Homer, on intricate mining matters in connection with Lord Granville's collieries in Staffordshire, and from that period to the time of his removal to the South Yorkshire coalfield, he was engaged upon a number of important mining and arbitration cases in the Midlands. Immediately following the calamitous explosion at the Lundhill Colliery in 1857, Mr. Brown was appointed engineer to the company. He undertook the management and restoration of the mine, his first task being the recovery of eighty victims of the explosion of that ill-fated pit. It was at the Lundhill Colliery that Mr. Brown introduced the Dumb Drift, at the risk of considerable criticism. Mr. Brown played an important part in the terrible explosion at the Oaks Colliery, in 1866, in conjunction with Mr. T. W. Embleton and the late Mr. Parkyn Jeffcock, who lost his life, with twenty-seven others, in an heroic attempt at rescue. The grim training Mr. Brown had experienced nine years previously at Lundhill, and his previous appointment as viewer at the Oaks Colliery, in a great measure enabled him to recover from the almost impenetrable debris a few of the bodies of the miners and volunteers—the unfortunate victims of the second explosion.

He afterwards became engineer to the Cannock Chase Coal Company, retiring from that position in March 1873. The No. 2 pit, or "Fly," as it was locally named, on account of its high speed of winding, was constructed from his plans about thirty-six years ago, and is still at work. It was at the Hednesford pit of this colliery that Mr. Brown constructed and arranged the apparatus for automatically closing the mouths of the upcast shaft when winding, where the ventilation is effected by fan. Mr. Brown also introduced at the colliery of this company the endless rope system of haulage, worked by compressed air, and the No. 5 plant will be remembered for its novelty in having a pair of shafts by which the coals from a lower seam, in a trough 1000 yards from the main winding shaft, were raised by a horizontal engine driven by compressed air.

Mr. Brown removed in 1873 to Hednesford, and in 1880 to Birmingham; and his energies from that time down to the period of his death were devoted to the less arduous duties of consulting engineer to some of the chief land and mine owners in the Midlands and the northern districts. His intimate knowledge of the Cannock Chase coalfield led to his services being often sought, and there were few collieries in that district upon which he had not reported. He became associated with Sir Robert Clifton in the development of the coal at Clifton Colliery near Nottingham, as well as several other collieries in the Midland coalfield and on the Continent. Amongst the more important arbitrations upon which Mr. Brown was engaged may be mentioned the North Staffordshire coal and ironstone trade arbitration in 1875, when he was appointed by the owners to act with Mr. John Adamson for their interests - Mr. Burt, M.P., and Mr. Crawford being appointed by the miners.

Mr. Brown was a past-president of the South Staffordshire and North Staffordshire Mining Institutes, and was also the first honorary Professor of Mining at the Mason Science College, Birmingham. He was also an old member of the Institution of Civil Engineers - having been elected as far back as 1858 - a fellow of the Geological Society, a member of the Iron and Steel Institute, of the North of England Institute of Mining Engineers, the Cleveland Institute of Mining Engineers, the Chesterfield and Derbyshire Institute of Mining Engineers, and the Midland Institute of Mining Engineers.


1889 Obituary [2]

. . . . He was appointed Engineer to the Lundhill Colliery Co after the occurrence of a disastrous explosion in that pit in 1857, when the bodies of eighty victims of the explosion were recovered under his superintendence. . . . [more]



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