Maw, William Henry 1838 - 1924

(1838-1924), Engineer

William Henry Maw, born on the 6th December 1838 in Scarborough, attended Sykes's School for several years. His father died in 1853 and William and his mother moved to London where she died the following year. In March 1855 Maw was apprenticed to John Gooch, engineer to the Eastern Counties Railway, at Stratford in east London. He also took drawing classes at the London Mechanics' Institution and assisted in the department's drawing office, where his impressive talent earned him, in December 1859, the post of chief draughtsman.

Maw designed observatories for his astronomical work at his houses in Kensington in 1887 and in Outwood in 1896. His lengthy study of double stars was important; his observations were published in five volumes of the Royal Astronomical Society's Memoirs. With astronomy, as with engineering, he built up a large, worldwide correspondence. He helped found the British Astronomical Association in 1890 and was president from 1899 to 1901 and treasurer for twenty-three years. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1888 and was president from 1905 to 1907, serving on its council for thirty-one years. He continued his studies through the Department of Science and Art in South Kensington and collaborated with such important figures as Henry Bessemer and Zerah Colburn.

In 1859 Maw and other young engineers founded the Civil and Mechanical Engineers' Society; he was president from 1863 to 1866. Colburn sought Maw as co-editor of his new journal, Engineering. He took the job in January 1866 but with Colburn's suicide in April 1870, he was left co-editor. Engineering owed its literary excellence and technical accuracy to Maw's untiring efforts as editor and author. He soon became one of the most significant figures in nineteenth-century technical journalism and maintained personal friendships with many engineering contemporaries.

Maw was president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers from 1901 to 1902 and a council member for thirty-four years; he was president of the Institution of Civil Engineers from 1922–3 and a council member for thirteen years. The awards he received were numerous. During the First World War he served on many technical committees appointed by the government, particularly those connected with the Ministry of Munitions. He died at his home, 18 Addison Road, Kensington, on 19 March 1924, and was buried at Kensington Hanwell cemetery, Ealing, three days later.