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Photo of Harry Marchanton Lowe

Harry Marchanton Lowe

Chemist
Birthplace Greater Manchester Manchester EnglandPlace of Residence at HM Factory Gretna Falkland Road Eastriggs ScotlandPlace of Death Hertfordshire St Albans Date of Birth: November 5, 1890 Date of Death: February 19, 1979

Biography

Full name of worker at H.M. Factory Gretna (and any other names they are known by) : Harry Marchanton LOWE

Gender: Male

Date and Place of Birth: 5 Nov 1890 68 Pollard St, Manchester, England

Baptism: 14 Nov 1890 All Souls, Ancoats, Manchester, England source: Lancashire Online Parish Clerks

Date and Place of Death: 19th February 1979, St Albans

NB No siblings.

Nationality: English

Biography

Childhood:

Parents: Francis Voltaire LOWE and Elizabeth MARCHANTON

 

Parent’s occupations: Father: House painter. Owned paint shop and employed at least 1 man.

Mother: Teacher, Eccles St Andrews Church of England school, Barton Lane, Eccles, England

Schools / universities attended and years of attendance: 

Manchester Municipal Secondary

July 1908 Manchester Pupil Teacher College

October 1909 Manchester University – studied Chemistry, Physics, Maths, German

June 1912 Graduated 2nd Class Bsc

 June 1913 Graduated MSc

Occupations:  

While at home and still at school, made paint from raw ores; size and distemper  for his father’s painting business.

Sometime after June 1912, resigned from Manchester Pupil Teacher College.

1913 Ironhirst Peat Works at Mouswald, which apparently went bust. 

[note 1]

 Dec 1915 to  Jan 1917 Chance & Hunt H.M. Factory, Site B., Oldbury, Worcestershire [Note 2] 

May? 1917 to ? 1919 HM Factory, Gretna

? 1919 Liquid Purification Co, Skelmanthorpe, Huddersfield?

? 1919 Dorman Long, Middlesbrough

April 1954 Retired 

On p52 INSTITUTE OF CHEMISTRY 1954 May

Place of residence at Gretna: G8, Falkland Road, Eastriggs

Job title at Gretna: Explosives Production, Eastriggs

Marital status: Married 18 Aug 1917, Milton   

Spouse: Jessie Mary MUNRO

Children: Mary Elizabeth LOWE  (born 11 October 1918 at Dornock), 

Scotlands People Ref 819/ 66  Dornock (Dumfries) G8, Falkland Road, Eastriggs Jessie Munro LOWE  (born 2 December 1919) in Middlesbrough, Yorks

Alexander James Marchanton ? LOWE (born 2 December 1919)

 

Timeline:

Travels: 

Awards/recognitions:  

  1. Bursary for passing exam for Probationer Pupil Teachers H M LOWE – Municipal Secondary – see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Saturday 10 June 1905
  2. Pass  I Pupil Teachers Entrance Exams, Manchester Education Committee, 1907  H M LOWE –Secondary School – – see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Saturday 18 May 1907
  3. Pass Part II Pupil Teachers Entrance Exams, Manchester Education Committee, 1907 – see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser 17 June 1907 – source BNA via FMP
  4. Tentative source: Matriculation results 2nd Division July 1908 Harry M. Lowe, Manchester P. T. Coll., Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Wednesday 29 July 1908 
  5. Winner Pearson’s Weekly  pocket knife H M LOWE, 221 Moss Lane, E Moss Side, Manchester – see Pearson’s Weekly – Thursday 08 October 1908 (he was inordinately found of his pen knife, even 70 years later). The address matches the 1911 census entry.

5a. H M  Lowe’s degrees from University Of Manchester’s register of graduates p414

http://home.us.archive.org/stream/registerof18511958univuoft 

which means 2nd class honours BSc in Chemistry in 1912, MSc in 1913.

The initial ‘c’ before the name means Member of Convocation.

  1. Degree of M Sc to H M Lowe – see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Friday 13 June 1913
  2. Elected as Fellow, Royal Society of Chemists , June 13th, 1946 – Lowe, Harry Marchanton, MSc. (Manc.). British. 190, Coatham Road, Redcar. Chief Chemist, Dorman Long &

CO., Ltd., By-products Department, Middlesborough. Signed by ; A. Scholes, Ernest W. Jackson, N. D. Ridsdale. – see Additions to the Library of the Chemical Society 1945 – see p 35 

(He was formally admitted a Fellow on November 21st, 1946 – 

  1. Elected as Committee Member, Tees-Side Section, Institute Of Chemistry 29th April 1948 – INSTITUTE OF CHEMISTRY 1948 part 4
  2. Retired from Committee Member, Tees-Side Section, Institute Of Chemistry 28th April 1950 – INSTITUTE OF CHEMISTRY 1950 part 3 p44

 

Trivia / any other information: 

  1. In the Dornock Farewell magazine, ‘H. M. Lowe’ is listed as living at ’19 Fairburn Street, Moss Side, Manchester.’

Tentative: Report of lecture by Prof Harold Dixon on Experiments on Abel’s Theory that Incombustible Dusts Act Catalytically on Igniting Mixtures of Weak Methane and Air carried out by himself and Mr  H M Lowe at Manchester University – see Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – Wednesday 22 January 1913 and p36 General and Physical Chemistry.pdf

This is quite likely to be him, my cousin remembers that he worked on making explosives as part of his degree.

Dumfries and Galloway Standard – Saturday 10 January 1914

Events in August (presumably August 1913)

14th August 1913

Dumfries and Galloway Standard – Saturday 22 August 1914

Dumfries and Galloway Standard – Saturday 05 September 1914

 

Family stories: 

  1. responsible for fire at St Pancras that destroyed much of station.
  2. recommended showers for all explosives workers before going off shift. However, there were vociferous complaints by the women against taking showers; they were afraid they would be spied on by the men and some felt it wasn’t natural to wash all over every day
  3. recommended all explosive workers to be checked before starting to ensure no metal.
  4. recommended all explosive workers to wear garments without pockets.
  5. recommended all workers mixing chemicals wear a mask covering face and nose.
  6. A particular problem, he said, was that women would arrive with metal hairslides and hair pins in their hair and be very indignant when told to remove them.
  7. His daughter, Jessie, ‘remembered’ that he managed the stirring of the ‘devil’s porridge’.
  8. Invented or extended the “Noughts and Crosses” cipher, which although simple to use, is difficult to decode, especially when used in drawings.
  9. At Dorman Long, he worked on tar distillation and production of artificial fibres.
  10. He taught mechanics at a local Working Man’s institute.
  11. Devised lots of mathematical puzzles, including knight’s tours, crossnumber, and the puzzle now known as Sudoku (I think he called it NumberFit!).
  12. On his way to a conference, he stayed overnight at the County Hotel, Selkirk. He had a disturbed night because all night, a lady in a long white Victorian dress walked past the foot of his bed and out through the wall. He mentioned this to the hotelier the next morning, who begged him not to tell anyone and cancelled his bill. The current owner is a Norwegian. He hadn’t heard this story but he did say that other guests (before he took over) had seen ghosts.
  13. Claimed to be English Draughts Champion but name doesn’t appear in English Draughts Association’s list of champions, however I never saw him lose a game of draughts.
  14.  I saw an article in Boys Own Paper (the 1898 volume) about how to make a bang. I tried it and there was no bang. I told my grandfather and he told me I was very lucky to be alive. He demonstrated how to make it safely and properly. He put some on a tree stump, threw a stone and nothing happened. He threw a very heavy hammer at it and there was a loud bang. It destroyed the hammer and split the stump. “That could have been your hand or head” he said.
  15. Was intensively competitive, especially at Scrabble.
  16. Spoke and read German and went to conferences in Europe.
  17. Around 1935, on the road near Foyers, while dealing with a puncture, saw Loch Ness monster carrying off a lamb.

 

Bibliography

  • Books published (Title, year of publication, publisher):  p36 Journal of the Chemical Society 1925.pdf Society of Public Analysts and other Analytical Chemists- vol 47 1922 mentions him
  • Books written about the individual or mentioning the individual (Title, year of publication, publisher): Transactions of the Faraday Society-Fractional Distillation p636, paragraph 1

Notes

According to Dumfries Archives:

  • For the period 1910 – 1911, 1911 – 1912, 1912 – 1913, there was a Peat Works in Mouswald Parish at a place called Ironhirst, there was 2 parcels of land, a site for manufacturing and a site for a pipe track. The company tenanting the property was The EPF Syndicate Ltd, per Alexander Goodlet, Secretary, 6 Broad Street Place, London. For the period 1913 – 1914 the company tenanting the land was Wetcarbonizing Ltd, per A P Ibbot, Secretary 3 Dean Farrar Street, Westminster, London.

For the period 1914 – 1915, 1915 – 1916, 1916 – 1917, the company tenanting the land was Lochar Ltd, per James Whitelaw, Secretary, Dumfries.

Throughout this entire period the land of Ironhirst was owned by James Jardine Paterson.

I think it is most likely that Mr Lowe would have worked for Wetcarbonizing Ltd as it was working the Ironhirst area in the beginning of 1913, but was not by early 1914.

Unfortunately we do not hold any records for these companies. They might be held in the Business Archives in Glasgow, their website can be found here: University of Glasgow – MyGlasgow – Archives & Special Collections – Discover our collections – Scottish Business Archive , but most likely they no longer exist.

  According to Mike Veissid, https://veissid.com/product/wetcarbonizing-ltd-1-ordinary-shares-1917-printed-by-bradbury-wilkinson-red-vf/Wetcarbonizing Ltd,  patented a process for making fertiliser utilising peat. However, there is a modern US patent Process for wet carbonizing of peat (see https://www.osti.gov/biblio/5786476-process-wet-carbonizing-peat) which seems to be for making peat brickettes. 

An older US patent started 1915 granted 1932, is for making peat brickettes. The London Gazette shows the voluntary liquidation of Wetcarbonizing on 31 Aug 1921.

 

  1. Part of Chance and Hunt was sold to Brunner, Mond and Co in 1917, another part was taken over by ICI in 1926, and another piece by ICI in 1939. It’s unclear what happened to the rest of the business but it’s evident that the company name still existed. 

A bit of ICI was sold in 1969, another bit in 1977, other parts of the business to Zeneca (now AstraZeneca) and other companies, and in 2007, Akzo Nobel acquired what was left. Chance and Hunt, since 2002, are part of Azelis.

According to https://www.agrokarbo.info/nassverkohlung/bericht-ironhirst/, a syndicate built a small plant at Dumfries, Scotland, and continued experimental work until 1911. In 1912 a new company was formed, called Wet Carbonizing, Limited, 

During the first years of the war the plant was closed down, no commercial success in production of fuel or recovery of by-products having been attained, although very heavy expenditures had been made over a period of several years.

 

The Ministry of War, having found that the wet-carbonized briquettes were a smokeless fuel and, therefore, particularly suitable for use in the trenches, took over the property as it stood in 1917, and, with the benefit of the experience gained, erected a new plant, designed on a large industrial scale, for the production of 60,000 tons of briquettes per annum. The new plant, which was well designed and thoroughly equipped, and built at the expense of the British Government, was not completed until after the close of the war, when it was turned over to the company for operation, and regular manufacturing of fuel was begun in October, 1919. Operation of the plant was made feasible by the utilization of slack coal as fuel, the maximum price for which, under government regulations prevailing at the time, was fixed at 30 shillings per ton, and owing to the heavy demand for fuel, the briquettes produced could be sold, free from restriction, at 90 shillings or more per ton.

 

Email from Peter (Harry’s grandson), May 2022: ‘Harry wasn’t in the Forces. He tried twice to enlist but failed the medical – only one working lung and flat feet.  He told me that the doctors had rejected him because of his weak heart, too.   However, unless he tried to enlist for a 3rd time, that was wrong because his weak heart occurred as a result of his work with TNT in Birmingham, where he worked before Eastriggs.   I don’t think his disabilities affected him much, except that he couldn’t walk long distances and he couldn’t lift much.   In spite of his missing lung and emphysema, he smoked 20 Capstan full strength cigarettes every day and even at age 85 he had more upper body strength than I had at age 22! I doubt he thought of himself as disabled.  He would have reserved that term for people missing one or more limbs or who were totally blind.’ 

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