Henry Bessemer

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Sir Henry Bessemer

Sir Henry Bessemer (born January 19, 1813 in Charlton, Hertfordshire , † March 15, 1898 in London ) was a British engineer and inventor. He developed the first method to mass-produce steel cheaply. To this end, he invented the Bessemer pear around 1855 . The wind-freshening process that takes place in it for decarburizing the pig iron by blowing in air or steam was patented under No. 2321.

Live and act

Henry Bessemer was born the son of a type founder . When he worked in his father's type foundry after finishing school, he mostly taught himself the techniques of metal casting and metal processing. The invention of an industrial process for the inexpensive production of gold bronzes made him financially independent at a young age. So he could pursue his technical ideas without financial worries. Bessemer obtained a total of 117 patents . On June 26, 1879, he was knighted as a Knight Bachelor and received membership in the Royal Society . In 1894 he was elected to the American Philosophical Society and in 1895 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences .

Shortly before the end of his life, Bessemer wrote his autobiography, which was published posthumously in 1905. Sir Henry Bessemer died on March 15, 1898 in London at the age of 85.

More inventions

Further inventions were die-like dies, a gold paint, a sugar machine and a ship that was supposed to protect its passengers from seasickness. Long before float glass was patented , Bessemer had the idea of ​​using liquid tin as a carrier for flat glass.

Bessemer also developed a process named after him for the extraction of pure steel / cast iron or copper from contaminated raw ores. Corresponding test facilities were built in the Mansfeld ironworks .

Experimental steamship Bessemer

The ship Bessemer had a semi-gimbal- mounted saloon whose hand-operated hydraulics were supposed to compensate for rolling in the sea. The prototype was designed for the passage of the English Channel and was put into operation in 1875. In order to minimize pitching movements, the ship was built as a double ender (identical bow and stern shape), and in addition, the decks were laid very low for the convenience of the passengers. The ship made several crossings, but the swing salon did not prove itself in practice, was removed, and the ship was then converted into a freighter. A short time later it fell victim to a storm.


  • Henry Bessemer, FRS, on autobiography. Institute of Metals, London, 1989, ISBN 0-901462-49-7 (reprint of London 2015 edition)


Web links

Commons : Henry Bessemer  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Chemistry in our time: Vol 52, No 6 . In: Chemistry in Our Time . tape 52 , no. December 6 , 2018, ISSN  0009-2851 , doi : 10.1002 / ciuz.v52.6 ( wiley.com [accessed January 18, 2019]).
  2. ^ William Arthur Shaw: The Knights of England. Volume 2, Sherratt and Hughes, London 1906, p. 371.