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Arthur Field

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Arthur Field (1844-1871)


1872 Obituary [1]

MR. ARTHUR FIELD, the youngest son of Mr. William Field, of Oxford Street and Kingsbury, Middlesex, was horn in London on the 18th of June, 1844.

His education was commenced at a private school, and afterwards continued under Dr. Mercer, of Darmstadt, where he obtained a sound mathematical training.

He returned to England and studied for a time at King’s College; and in the workshops of that Institution he picked up a considerable knowledge of applied mechanics, and of the use of tools.

After leaving Ring’s College, his education was completed by a course of reading with Dr. Smalley, of Blackheath.

Having determined to adopt Engineering as his pursuit in life, he was articled, in December, 1862, to the late Mr. James Simpson, Past-President, Inst. C.E. The first three years of his pupilage were spent at the Grosvenor Road Works, Pimlico, where he acquired a thorough practical knowledge of the general construction of machinery, more especially of that connected with the pumping and distribution of water. He also had an opportunity of studying the construction of reservoirs, filter beds, and other details of water supplies on a large scale, and was besides entrusted with the superintendence of the erection of the iron bridges on the Thames Valley railway.

After completing his course at the Grosvenor Road Works, he moved to Mr. Simpson’s office in Great George Street, where he made a complete set of designs and working drawings for some proposed gas works. He also succeeded in carrying off the prize in a competition for designs of hunting and racing stables at Epsom.

In February, 1868, Mr. Field was appointed, from among a large number of candidates, Engineer to the Gas and Water Commissioners of the Local Board of Widnes, near Liverpool. Various schemes for an adequate supply of water for the increasing wants of the district had been proposed by his predecessors, but none of them had been adopted, and on his succession to office he prepared an entirely original set of plans. The main feature of these was the construction of a well at Crontan, 60 feet deep and 10 feet in diameter, from which the flow of water was SO great that even a few hours’ cessation of pumping caused it to rise to the level of the ground. The water was lifted by a pair of condensing steam engines of Mr. Field’s design ; they were 50 nominal H.P. each, and worked two 16-inch pumps, with a stroke of 3 feet 6 inches, forcing the water for a distance of 2 miles through a 16-inch main to the reservoir at Pex hill, which was situated 150 feet above the level of the town, and was capable of holding 1,617,000 gallons. The service main from this reservoir was about 13 miles long, and capable of supplying 750,000 gallons of water per day, the actual quantity supplied during the year ending September, 1871, being 183,230,000 gallons. The entire cost of these works, which are most efficient, was, exclusive of Parliamentary and legal expenses, £43,803. A better proof of the activity and energy displayed by Mr. Field cannot be adduced than the fact that the designs were completed, the contracts let, and the works commenced, in less than three months after his appointment ; they were opened in July, 1869, a little more than one year from their commencement.

In February 1869, he was appointed Engineer, Gas Manager, and Surveyor to the Local Board, and his first undertaking in this new capacity was to completely reorganise, and indeed almost reconstruct, the gas works which had been allowed to fall into a dilapidated condition. A new retort house containing eighty retorts, new condensers, an exhauster, two scrubbers, and two purifiers, were erected. Also, a single lift gasometer 80 feet in diameter, which, with the three old ones, gave a total storage capacity of l68,800 cubic feet. Great pains were taken by Mr. Field in re-arranging the whole of the service pipes, and in preparing accurate plans of their positions which had, up to that time, been neglected. The works are now capable of producing 300,000 cubic feet of gas per day. The total supply during the year ending September, 1871, was 23,225,980 cubic feet. The cost of this extension of the gas works was £15,078.

At the end of the year 1870 he resigned his office of Engineer and Surveyor to the Local Board, and commenced to practise in Liverpool, being however retained by the Local Board as their Consulting Engineer. He rapidly succeeded in forming the nucleus of a remunerative practice, and was soon engaged in the construction of a large reservoir in Portugal ; and having given special attention to the construction of the apparatus and machinery required by chemical manufacturers, he was occupied up to that time of his decease in designing some extensive plant of this description.

He died of typhoid fever on October the 20th, 1871, at Kingsbury Cottage, Appleton, near Widnes, sincerely regretted by all who knew him. He was remarkable for the energy he displayed in carrying out whatever he undertook. He was ever ready to impart information to his professional brethren, and his bearing to his subordinates was distinguished heads being truly gentleman like.

He was much loved by a large circle of private friends, and always retained the estimation and liking of the many professional acquaintances he made in the course of his brief but useful and promising career. He was much addicted to field and athletic sports, and in Lancashire became the Secretary of the Farnmouth Athletic Club, which, under his management,, acquired considerable local celebrity. He married on August the 9th, 1871 (only ten weeks before his death), the daughter of Mr. Edward Young, J.P., of Birchfield, Rainhill, Lancaster.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution of Civil Engineers on December the Rh, 1869, and bid fair, on account of his increasing professional reputation, to become a prominent member.


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