Public history of science lecture by Chris Elliott
Chris Elliot is Director of Product Marketing for Tata Steel in Europe.
Despite modest educational beginnings, Sir Henry Bessemer FRS (1813-1898) rose to the highest rank of 19th century industrialists. Combining a prolific flair for invention with rigorous economic analysis and clear-minded business practices, Bessemer enjoyed great success and fortune in a number of disparate fields.
However, his lasting legacy resulted from his pioneering and visionary reengineering of the steelmaking process, which laid the foundations for global mass production of this versatile material, underpinning our modern world.
This lecture aims to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Sir Henry Bessemer by reviewing his scientific and economic achievements in the context of his era, and also in terms of their ongoing impact on the world of today. As well as highlighting his critical contribution to the industrialisation of steelmaking, Bessemer’s other interests will be discussed to present a rounded portrait of this towering and complex figure, who was granted no less than 117 patents during his career.
To conclude, parallels will be drawn between Bessemer's entrepreneurial approach and current-day equivalents; despite the very different 21st century innovative and competitive environment, is the spirit of Sir Henry Bessemer still in evidence in the contemporary era, and if so, where?
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