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Thursday, 6 August 2009

William Henry

The work of William Henry in Manchester and with Boulton and Watt has already been highlighted. Over the first years of the gas industry, much of the scientific interest was to move towards London and London institutions.

In the thirty years or so before 1816 a number of articles had appeared in the scientific press. Some of these were partisan, in the sense, that they were putting forward the interests of one group or another. Despite William Henry’s reputation he was none the less a consultant working for Boulton and Watt and could be expected to express their point of view, particularly as some of his results had been obtained in the course of experiments undertaken on their behalf.

Early published work from the academic staff at Woolwich had included a paper on gases by William Cruikshank, then Assistant Professor of Chemistry, in the William Nicholson’s Philosophical Journal - which was challenged by Henry in a subsequent paper. These papers were mainly part of an ongoing debate among scientists on the nature of gases but they very quickly moved to the practical applications of their subject. In 1815, another contribution from a Professor at Woolwich. J.Macculloch, was on the possible products obtained from the distillation of coal and wood.

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