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British Industrial History

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Stephen William Challen

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Stephen William Challen (1842-1937) of Taylor and Challen, Derwent Foundry, 60 and 62 Constitution Hill, Birmingham.

c.1856 Apprenticed to Joseph Taylor

1873 With Mr. Joseph S. Taylor joined Joseph Taylor in partnership

Sometime after 1875 the firm became Taylor and Challen

1881 Living at 33 Villa Road, Handsworth: Stephen W. Challen (age 38 born Stedham, Sussex), Mechanical Engineer. With his wife Mary E. Challen (age 37 born Birmingham) and their four children; Walter B. Challen (age 14 born Handsworth)]; Ada M. Challen (age 11 born Aston); Isabella C. Challen (age 9 born Handsworth); and Edith W. Challen (age 2 born Handsworth). Two servants.[1]

1911 Living at Totehill, Blossomfield Road, Solihull: Stephen William Challen (age 68 born Stedham, Sussex), Mechanical Engineer and Employer. With his wife Mary Elizabeth Challen (age 67 born Birmingham). married 45 years with four children. Two servants.[2]

1937 April 17th. Died. Of Totehill, Blossomfield Road, Solihull

1937 Obituary [3]

STEPHEN WILLIAM CHALLEN was one of the oldest surviving members of the Institution. He was elected a Member in 1876, sixty-one years ago, and was the first of three generations of the family to be elected to Institution membership. He will be remembered for his part in the development of the firm of Messrs. Taylor and Challen, manufacturers of presses and specialized machinery, of Derwent Works, Birmingham, with which he was associated throughout his career.

Mr. Challen was born in 1842 at Totehill, near Midhurst, Sussex, and in 1856 he worked for some months on his father's farm. Then he became a premium pupil in the works of Mr. Joseph Taylor, M.I.Mech.E., at Broad Street Foundry, Birmingham, and served until he was 21. In his twentieth year he was made chief assistant to Mr. Taylor, under whose supervision he made the plans for the firm's new Derwent Works in Constitution Hill, Birmingham, which were opened in 1862.

In the following year Mr. Challen went to Canada, where he worked for three months in the Brantford locomotive repair shops of the Buffalo and Lake Huron Railway.

On his return to England he was appointed designer, chief draughtsman, and assistant manager at Derwent Works. He purchased an interest in the business in 1873, and became senior partner on Mr. Taylor's retirement in 1875.

His subsequent history was to a large extent the history of the firm, of which he later became chairman. The business was formed into a limited liability company in 1889. During the War Mr. Challen was associated with the large extensions made to the plant for manufacturing cartridge presses and like machinery. Latterly a great variety of presses were introduced in connection with the motor car industry, hot brass pressings, and insulators for electrical work.

Mr. Challen, as chairman, was concerned with the firm's affairs until within a few years of his death, which occurred in Solihull, Birmingham, on 17th April 1937, in his ninety-fifth year.

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