The Bicentenary of Sir Henry Bessemer
On 24 January 2013 prestigious guests from the materials industry gathered at 1 Carlton House Terrace for a lunch to celebrate the bicentenary of Sir Henry Bessemer.
As well as members of Bessemer’s family, in attendance were new fellows of the Institute, Andrew Dixon, Bob Lamour, Robert Mitchell, Phillip Sargeant, Noreen Thomas, Xiaorong Zhou, Peter Sheppardson, Barry Jones and John Bennett and former winners of the Institute’s Bessemer Medal, Mike Pettifor, Stuart Pettifor Giovanni Arvedi and Ian Christmas.
Jan Lewis opened proceedings with a welcoming speech and called the day “a celebration of excellence”. He explained that Bessemer is a sterling example of a truly great engineer, who was all about problem solving. He handed over to Paul Bessemer who captured his audience with tales of ‘Bessemer, the family man’. He gave guests an insight into the private life of a colourful character known only for achievements in his working life, and told how letters left by Bessemer illustrated his generosity and love towards his family. He quoted from one letter, in which Bessemer reassured a family member, “everything is possible to those who follow up opportunities presented to them in life.”
Giovanni Arvedi then followed with his entertaining speech, which praised Bessemer, the innovator, for his creative mind. He said, “in my opinion [Bessemer’s work] was the fruits of applied creative activity, not methodology”.
In the final speech of the day, Lord Browne discussed the legacy of Sir Henry Bessemer, and ended with the touching remark, “my career would be very different without him… he is one of my heroes.”