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John Hughes (1814-1889)

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John James Hughes (1814–June 17 1889) was a Welsh engineer, businessman and founder of the city of Donetsk.

1814 born in Merthyr Tydfil, where his father, also John Hughes, was head engineer at the Cyfarthfa Ironworks. Under his father's supervision, Hughes started his career here.[1]

At an early ago he entered the Cyfarthfa and the Ebbw Vale Works, before joining the Uskside Foundry in Newport, Monmouthshire, in the 1840s.[2]

Here Hughes made his reputation and fortune, patenting a number of inventions in armaments and armour plating. The resultant revenues allowed him to acquire a shipyard aged 28, and by the age of 36 he owned a foundry in Newport.

1844 Married Elizabeth Lewis in Monouthshire; they had eight children: six boys and two girls, all born in Newport.[3]

1851 John Hughes 34, engineer, lived in Newport with Elizabeth Hughes 28, Sarah Ann Hughes 4, John Hughes 2, William C Hughes 7 Months[4]

In the mid-1850s, Hughes moved to Millwall, London (23 Great Winchester Street) to become manager of C. J. Mare's forges and rolling mills, which was then taken over by the Millwall Iron Works and Shipbuilding Co, part of the Millwall Iron Works, Shipbuilding and Graving Docks Co. Hughes was a director of the company when it foundered, and as a result became manager of the residual Millwall Iron Works Co. During this period, the various companies and successors won worldwide acclaim for the iron cladding of wooden warships for the British Admiralty, for which Hughes was given much of the credit. In 1864 he designed a gun carriage for heavy cannons, which came to be used by the Royal Navy, as well as the navies of some other European countries.[5]

He invented the hollow stringer and constructed the Millwall shield, which withstood the tests better than any other armour in England. This brought orders from the Russian Government, and by this connection Hughes was induced to go out and make personal inspection of the rich mineral deposits of southern Russia.

1865 (1st Feb) Patent in Armour plating improvements. [6]

1866 John Hughes, C.E., of Millwall Ironworks and C. W. Lancaster, the noted Gun Maker of Bond Street and the inventor of the Lancaster or elliptical-bored ordnance, were plaintiffs in a legal action against Captain Blakely concerning methods of construction of ordnance.[7]

1869 Eventually he formed a company in London and concluded a contract with the Russian Government in April, 1869, for the establishment of the works.

1889 Died in Russia; buried at Norwood Cemetery; his executors were John James Hughes and Arthur David Hughes, both engineers[8]



1890 Obituary [9]

JOHN HUGHES, of the town of Hughesovska, in Southern Russia, or called after his name, was born at Merthyr, in South Wales, in 1814, and died suddenly at St. Petersburg, in July 1889.

Mr. Hughes was trained in his native Principality as an ironworker, and became a competent mechanical engineer as well. On leaving his own neighbourhood, he was employed in different capacities at engineering works in London and elsewhere. While residing in the Metropolis, his attention was called to the great facilities offered by the south of Russia for the prosecution of the iron manufacture, and he took a leading part in the establishment of a company, known as the New Russia Iron Company, of which he became the managing director, promoted with the view of acquiring mineral properties, and erecting iron and steel works, in the locality that bears his name. The works have been carried on by Mr. Hughes for nearly twenty years with conspicuous success. Some of the best-known men connected with the engineering profession in England are among the shareholders.

The Hughesovska Company raise their own coal and iron, make their own pig in three modern furnaces, and produce bar iron and Siemens steel When Mr. Hughes selected the site where his works now stand, there were only a few miserable huts in the neighbourhood, so that great difficulties on the score of efficient labour and domiciliary accommodation had to be met. Mr. Hughes, however, overcame these with his invariable energy, and now the works support a population of nearly 10,000 souls.

Mr. Hughes frequently made visits to Europe, and kept himself well au courant with the proceedings of the Iron and Steel Institute, of which he had been a member since 1878, as well as those of other bodies. He was well known to, and a persona grata with, some of the more prominent Court officials, including the Ministers of Commerce and of Ways and Communications at St. Petersburg; and it is much to his credit that in a country, where there is an instinctive dislike of foreigners, and where he had a most difficult part to play, he so comported himself as to earn the esteem of those who knew him best, at the same time that he did well for his company, which was mainly established with English capital.


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