Arthur Duckham

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Sir Arthur McDougall Duckham GBE KCB (8 July 1879 – 14 February 1932) was one of the founders of the Institution of Chemical Engineers, and its first President.

Duckham was born in Blackheath, London, the second son of a Falmouth-born mechanical and civil engineer, Frederic Eliot Duckham (1841 - died 13 January 1918 in Blackheath), who had patented improvements in governors for marine engines and invented a 'Hydrostatic Weighing Machine'.[1] His mother was Maud Mary McDougall (1849-1921), sister of John McDougall of the flour-making family, which had a mill at Millwall Dock. His older brother was Alexander Duckham, notable for the development of machine lubricants.

Arthur Duckham became a trainee gas engineer, while also taking evening classes at King's College, London, and was appointed assistant superintendent of a London gasworks. Along with Harold Woodall he formed a company Woodall-Duckham which developed the continuous vertical retort for manufacturing gas from coal. He married Maud Peppercorn, daughter of Arthur Douglas Peppercorn and they had three children.[2]

During the First World War he was involved in the supply of coal-derived chemicals for use in the manufacture of explosives, becoming Deputy Controller of Munitions Supply in 1915. He performed a number of other executive and advisor roles, notably Chairman of the Advisory Committee, Ministry of Munitions, which resulted in the him being knighted with the Order of the Bath (KCB).[3] He also received the Légion d'honneur (Cross of Officer).[4]

After the war his business flourished, expanding into other areas of chemical engineering. He joined the Institution of Civil Engineers (which then included all non-military engineers) in 1918, but chaired the committee which created the Institution of Chemical Engineers, and became its first President.[2]

In 1928 he led a British trade mission to Australia, and following this received a further knighthood, GBE.[5]

He died 14 February 1932 at Ashtead, Surrey.[2]


  1. ^ "Frederic Eliot Duckham". Grace's Guide. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  2. ^ a b c Oxford Dictionary of National Biography accessed 28 July 2009
  3. ^ London Gazette 9 February 1917 page 1458
  4. ^ London Gazette Archived 1 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine. 22 October 1920 page 101197
  5. ^ London Gazette 31 May 1929 page 3675