Hodgkinson, Eaton

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b. 26 February 1789 Anderton, Cheshire, England
d. 18 June 1861 near Manchester, England
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English engineer who devised d new form of cast-iron girder.
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Eaton Hodgkinson's father, a farmer, died when he was 6 years old, but his mother was a resourceful woman who set up a business in Salford and ensured that her son received a sound schooling. Most important for his education, however, was his friendship with the Manchester scientific luminary Dr. Dalton, who instructed him in practical mathematics. These studies led Hodgkinson to devise a new form of cast-iron girder, carefully tested by experiments and which was widely adopted for fire-proof structures in the nineteenth century. Following Dalton, Hodgkinson became an active member of the Manchester Philosophical Society, of which he was elected President in 1848. He also became an active member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Hodgkinson's work on cast-iron girders secured him a Fellowship of the Royal Society, and the Royal Medal of the Society, in 1841. It was Hodgkinson also who verified the mathematical value of the pioneering experiments carried out by William Fairbairn for Robert Stephenson's proposed wrought-iron tube structure which, in 1849, became the Britannia Bridge over the Menai Straits. He received a Silver Medal for this work at the Paris Exhibition of 1858. Hodgkinson served as a member of the Royal Commission appointed to enquire into the application of iron to railway structures. In 1847 he was appointed Professor of the Mechanical Principles of Engineering at University College, London, but his health began to fail shortly after. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1851. Described as "singularly simple and guileless", he was widely admired and respected.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
President, Manchester Philosophical Society 1848. FRS 1841. Royal Society Medal 1841.
Further Reading
Dictionary of National Biography, London.
Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers 21:542–5.
AB

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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