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Sir John Dewrance (1858-1937)
38th President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Dewrance was born in Peckham, England in 1858. His father was associated with George Stephenson and erected the Rocket. He later became locomotive superintendent of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway. He went into partnership with Joseph Woods, brother of the engineer of the Liverpool and Manchester Railway, who had founded an engineering company in London.
Sir John was educated at Charterhouse and at King’s College, London. In 1879, he took over his father’s firm, and a year later took control of the research laboratory and staff of Professor Barff. This establishment was later known as the Albion Chemical Works.
Sir John took part in a great deal of research, particularly investigating lubrication, metallurgy and corrosion. He served as Chairman of the Alloys Research Committee, Research Advisory Committee, Cutting Tools Research Committee as well as the Finance and House Committee of the IMechE.
In 1899, Dewrance was elected chairman of Babcock and Wilcox, which position he held until his retirement on July 1937. He took out over 100 patents, mostly relating to improvements in boiler mountings and steam fittings.
During the First World War he was engaged on Government contracts, and he served on various committees of the Ministry of Munitions, the Ministry of Labour and the Treasury.
He was President of the IMechE in 1923. He also served as President of the Engineering and Allied Employers’ National Federation from 1920 to 1926, and President of the Institute of Metals in 1926. He was an Honorary Member of the Institution of Royal Engineers and was made an Honorary Life Member of the IMechE in 1931. He was also appointed to the General Board of the National Physical Laboratory, and to the Engineering Research Board. In 1923, he was Master of the Armourers’ and Braziers’ Company.
He died on 7 October 1937.