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British Industrial History

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Thomas Arthur Bewley

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Thomas Arthur Bewley (1844-1889)

1885 of Bewley, Webb and Co, Port of Dublin Ship Yard, Dublin.

1889 Obituary [1]

THOMAS ARTHUR BEWLEY, son of Mr. Thomas Bewley, J.P., of Rockville, County Dublin, was born there in 1844, and received his education first at a private school at Mountmellick, Queen's County, and afterwards at Grove House, Tottenham, London.

Being fond of scientific pursuits, he attended a course of lectures at the Royal College of Science, Dublin, and there studied analytical chemistry, which he afterwards utilized at the large sugar refining establishment that his father was building at Ringsend, Dublin.

From about the age of seventeen he worked for some years under his father at this business, until about 1869, when his father put him into the shipbuilding business of Messrs. Webb, Walpole, and Bewley, with his brother, Mr. John Bewley. Thenceforth he divided his time between the sugar refinery and the shipbuilding yard, until in 1878 his connection with the former ceased.

In the shipbuilding yard he undertook the management of the engineering department. Being greatly devoted to the working of the optical lantern, and finding trouble and difficulty in preparing and storing gas, he was led to construct machinery for the purpose of compressing it at his works for his own use; succeeding in this, he made it after some time a branch of his business to supply cylinders of compressed gas. He gave lectures and entertainments in a thoroughly unselfish way to those who could only obtain such opportunities through the kindness and self-sacrifice of a man like himself.

On the afternoon of 28th January 1889 be was preparing for a lantern entertainment, and was last seen walking up the stairs to his office with a cylinder of compressed gas under his arm. A few minutes afterwards a terrific explosion occurred, which partially wrecked the office buildings; and his body was found fearfully mutilated. It was subsequently proved that, through a series of unfortunate mistakes, the cylinder had been filled not with oxygen or hydrogen alone, but with a mixture of these gases, forming a violently explosive compound; but it was impossible to ascertain with certainty what accident had caused their ignition, and had thus terminated his life at the ago of forty-four.

He was a member of the various scientific societies in Dublin, such as the Royal Dublin Society, Scientific and Microscopic Clubs, and the Photographic Society, to which he acted as treasurer.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1882, and was also a member of the Society of Arts in London.

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