Nov 2012 - Charlton village and Henry Bessemer

Twenty members of the LALG Transport and Industrial Heritage Group met in November at its new venue of The Hub and enjoyed an interesting and informative talk by John Pearce on the subject of the village of Charlton and inventor Henry Bessemer.

Born in January 1813, Bessemer is best known for the development of what became known as the Bessemer converter. This was a method of creating steel by blasting oxygen through molten pig iron to burn off the impurities, a process which greatly reduced the cost of the product and led to it replacing the use of cast iron in industry.

Members of the group were interested to discover that he had further strings to his bow however, with his other inventions including a typesetting machine, a new machine for the refining of sugar, moveable dies for embossed stamps - a process which he omitted to patent and which was subsequently eagerly adopted by the government without recompense, and new methods of making both gold paint and lead pencils.

With 2013 marking the 200th anniversary of Bessemer's birth, a number of commemorative events are being organised locally. Andy Gibb, of the British Schools Museum in Hitchin, followed John's talk by giving the group an outline of what is being planned to celebrate the life of Charlton's local boy made good.