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British Industrial History

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William Henry Owen

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William Henry Owen (c1871-1937) of Owen Power Plant, Carrier Engineering Co and W. H. Owen (Company)

The "Carrier-Owen " air preheater improved the process of combustion with shorter flame length and faster ignition of the volatile and combustible gases, thereby preventing formation of soot. Use of the preheater increased the furnace temperature so that more of the heat of combustion contributes to the radiation in the furnace, increasing efficiency[1]

1937 Died


1937 Obituary [2]

WIDESPREAD regret will be felt at the death of Mr. William Henry Owen, M.Inst.C.E., well known in the engineering profession as chairman and managing director of Owen Power Plant, Ltd., London, who died at Wimbledon on Sunday, January 3rd, after a very brief illness, in his sixty-seventh year.

He was the oldest son of the late William Owen, of Stoke-on-Trent, who in the 'eighties owned and edited newspapers in Staffordshire and Cheshire, and he was educated in the “Five Towns."

At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to William Boulton and Co., Ltd., of Burslem, where he remained for six years.

In 1892 he joined the drawing-office staff of Benjamin Goodfellow, of Hyde, near Manchester, and after three years went to Belliss and Morcom, Ltd., of Birmingham, where he was assistant to the works manager on the design of special tools, laying out of plant, &c.

In 1896 he joined the drawing-office staff of Robey and Co., Ltd., of Lincoln.

From 1898 he was for three years leading draughtsman to Willans and Robinson, of Rugby, and in 1901 went as chief draughtsman to James Howden and Co., Ltd., of Glasgow, with which firm he remained for about twenty-five years.

In 1907 he came to London as the firm's technical and commercial representative, a position he held for many years, having complete charge of arrangements of plant, erecting, and testing of engines, turbines, and boilers on site, as well as of all technical questions arising during the carrying out and completion of contracts.

An active and inventive mind supported by sound practical experience led Mr. Owen to take out a number of patents covering a wide field of engineering subjects, and it was in order to develop certain of these relating to high-pressure steam boilers, air preheaters, and fuel economy that he left James Howden and Co., Ltd., in 1924.

After that date the commercial development of the Owen air preheater and heat interchanger was begun in association with the Carrier Engineering Company, of Buckingham-gate, London. Subsequently it became necessary to establish the present organisation, Owen Power Plant, Ltd., Townsend House, Westminster, of which Mr. Owen was managing director, as well as chairman, at the time of his death.

During the war Mr. Owen was called on to assist the French Government to speed up the production of shells, and in that connection made many trips to France. He also assisted in the early days of the war, when tonnage was so badly needed, in bringing about the purchase by the British Government of a number of steamships then nearing completion in Japanese shipyards.


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