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TWI Unearths Historical Prize-Winning Paper

Wed, 18 September, 2019

TWI received a message from Miss Jessica Clark, the great granddaughter of Henry W. Clark, who was the first ever recipient of The Welding Institute’s Sir William J. Larke medal for his prize-winning paper from 1944.

The Sir William J. Larke medal has, since 2009, been combined with the Sir Charles Lillicrap Medal at The Welding Institute’s annual awards, but it maintains the same focus of acknowledging the individual or team who has had the greatest influence on the practical application of novel welding or joining knowledge or technology.

Each year since 1994, the subject for nomination has been assessed for its practical application value and impact on welding and joining in real-world engineering, and Henry W. Clark’s wartime work provided exactly that.

While Jessica had uncovered her great grandfather’s medal, she had not seen information on the work that had led to him being presented with the inaugural award.

Of course, there has been a lot of new developments in the intervening 75 years, but TWI was able to locate Henry’s award-winning paper among the archives and send a copy to his great granddaughter.

Henry’s work was located in a book that collected together the (then-named) Institute of Welding’s prizewinning papers from 1944.

The book’s foreword also included a dedication to Henry W. Clark, who had sadly passed away just one year after winning the Sir William J. Larke medal.

The foreword stated, “It remains only to record with great regret the untimely death on 29th June, 1945, of Mr. H.W. Clark, M.Inst.C.E., M.Inst.W., the winner of the Medal.”

As for Henry W. Clark’s paper, it detailed ‘Some Applications of Arc Welding, embodying specific details of welded work.’ This work, in particular, included brief descriptions of three major works selected from a number of light and heavy welded structures that were erected by Henry himself.

The three projects detailed included the design, fabrication and erection of all-welded plate girders for two railway bridges, in North Kensington and Hainault. These two projects were ground-breaking in that they were the first instances of all-welded plate girder bridges carrying railways in Britain. The third project detailed in the paper was related to the depth reduction and strengthening of a girder supporting a booking hall above a London railway, without interrupting the flow of passengers above or the movement of trains below.

Henry’s paper ended by detailing some further applications of arc welding to the design and alteration of structures while saving time, labour and costs and avoiding “serious difficulties inherent in the ordinary methods of construction.”

The award-winning paper concluded that, “it is clear that considerable progress has been made in the design and application of electric arc welding to railway structures,” adding, “the period which has elapsed since their completion, though short in the life of a steel structure, has enabled much more information and confidence to be gained.”

It was with great pleasure that TWI and The Welding Institute was able to provide Jessica Clark with details of her great-grandfather’s prize-winning work, while also unearthing a small piece of engineering history from our extensive archives.

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