1901-1902: William Henry Maw

1901-1902: William Henry Maw


William Henry Maw (1838-1924)

26th President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Maw was born at Scarborough, England on 6 December 1838. He was privately educated. At the age of sixteen, he began an apprenticeship at the Eastern Counties Railway Works at Stratford, under John Gooch and Robert Sinclair. In December 1859 he became head draughtsman in the locomotive and engineering department.

In 1860 he was attached to Robert Sinclair’s private staff, and was involved with the design of rolling stock for the Great Luxembourg Railway and locomotives for the East Indian Railway. Both of these lines had employed Sinclair as consulting engineer.

In December 1865 he left the Great Eastern Railway to join Zerah Colburn in the establishment of Engineering. In 1870, upon the suicide of Colburn, he was joined in the editorship by James Dredge. In 1906 Dredge died and Maw became senior joint editor. He kept this position until his death.

As well as editing Engineering, from 1870 onwards, Maw had an independent practice as a consulting engineer. He was mainly involved with engine and boiler construction and the design and arrangement of workshops and similar buildings. He was involved with the design and laying out of printing works for several important papers, including The Daily Telegraph, The Standard, and The Field and The Queen.

During the First World War he served on many government committees, particularly those associated with the Ministry of Munitions. He also served continuously on the General Board of the National Physical Laboratory from its establishment in 1901 until 1915. He was a member of the Committee responsible for the foundation of the British Engineering Standards Association in 1901, and was a member of the Main Committee until his death.

As well as engineering, Maw had a keen interest in astronomy and was elected a Member of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1888, holding the office of President from 1905 to 1907. He was also one of the founders of the British Astronomical Association. This society’s aim was the encouragement of amateurs to carry out work of astronomical value, and was he President from its establishment in 1890 to 1900. He also had observatories built to his own design at his houses in Kensington and Surrey.

He was President of the IMechE in 1901-1902. He was also involved in many other societies, including the Civil and Mechanical Engineers’ Society, of which he was President from 1863 to 1865, and the Institution of Civil Engineers, of which he was President in 1922.

He died on 19 March 1924.

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