It is not only the number if patents registered by Sir Henry Bessemer of his inventions over his lifetime, but the sheer variety of his work. Some 129 patents were registered in his lifetime and although he notionally retired in 1870, seven years after moving to Denmark Hill, he continued to register a wide variety of inventions and adaptions. The patents registered when he first was a resident were in connection with his pig iron converter processes for iron and steel manufacture and the apparatus and presses used, however in 1864 he was registering patents for projectiles and ordnance and in complete contrast, that of grindstones and artificial stone. In 1869 he registered yet another patent on the conversion of molten pig iron to malleable iron and steel. It was an intensive year for him and a further six patents connected with this process were registered.

His well-documented experience of suffering from seasickness led to his first patent for the construction of vessels designed to avoid the condition and are referred to in the article above. However, the subject clearly obsessed Bessemer and further patents in connection with solving of seasickness through the construction of vessels with gyroscopically suspended saloons in order to alleviate the problem continued to intrigue him for several more years. Ships’ alarms were another subject of his patenting.

Quite a different study produced yet another patent in 1871 when Bessemer’s interest turned to the asphalting of pavements and the following year, probably stimulated by his desire to build in his grounds at Denmark Hill an observatory with a gigantic telescope, a patent for the manufacture of reflecting lenses. His continuing enthusiasm involving vessels led to other aspects of marine engineering and for machinery to facilitate the loading of ships. His final patent, registered in 1883 for was machinery to load railway rolling stock

Sources: Patricia Jenkyns, The Story of Henry Bessemer, revised edition, Herne Hill Society, 2013; William H. Blanch, Ye Parish of Camerwell, 1875; Brian Green, “ Farming in Dulwich”, Dulwich Society Journal, Summer 2012, Paul Bessemer provided valuable assistance and Sharon O’Connor kindly assisted by researching census returns, directories etc.

Go to top