Obituary | Published:

Mr. H. Brearley

Nature volume 162, page 288 (21 August 1948) | Download Citation



MR. HARRY BREARLEY, the inventor of stainless steel, died on July 14 at the age of seventy-seven. A native of Sheffield, and the eighth child of a family brought up in “Ramsden‘s Yard”, of which he has given a vivid account in a delightful autobiography, “Knotted String”, he had only an elementary school education and then worked as a cellar lad in a crucible steel works. He was fortunate in being taken from this to be a laboratory boy under a capable and kindly analyst, who persuaded him to attend evening classes. He married young, and quite early collaborated with Fred Ibbotson in a book on the analysis of steelworks materials. In 1914 he went to Riga, then a Russian town, as chemist in a steel works associated with Messrs. Firth of Sheffield, where he improved the technique of hardening armour-piercing shells, having also to act as managing director when the Russian Revolution came and many members of the staff left. On returning to Sheffield he took charge of the Brown–Firth Laboratory, installed jointly by two neighbouring firms. Difficulties in the making of armour plates led him to the further study of the thermal treatment of alloy steels.

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