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Thursday, 6 August 2009

William Brande

In 1816 the pace began to quicken with more interest and more papers. Some of these came from a young scientist called William Brande, and the debate, which took place around the introduction of gas made from oil, will be described later with the introduction of the first oil gas works to London.

By 1816 however, Brande had established two small gas making plants for research purposes. They were located at what were then two of the foremost scientific research institutions in central London, apart, of course, from Woolwich. These were at the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Apothecaries near Blackfriars in the City, and the newly established Royal Institution at Albemarle Street in the West End.

Brande was yet another chemist with a family roots in continental Europe. A number of family members had come to England in the eighteenth century, bringing with them the skills of their apothecary’s business. As early as 1716 they were established in St.James’ Street. Frederick Accum had come to England having been apprenticed at the family’s Hanover pharmacy and coming to England, met William, the sixth child in the London branch of the Brande family. William was an apprentice in the London shop, where both his father and brother were apothecaries to the royal family. He travelled to Germany, met members of the scientific community in England and in 1805 published his first learned paper at the age of 17 - on benzoin. Elected to the Royal Society at the age of 21 in 1809, by 1813 he was Professor of Chemistry at the Worshipful Company of Apothecaries. He had already taken up an appointment at the Royal Institution where a lecturer was needed following Humphrey Davy’s marriage - making him senior there to Michael Faraday.

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