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Henry Selby Hele-Shaw

(1854-1941), Mechanical and automobile engineer

Sitter in 3 portraits

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Henry Selby Hele-Shaw

by Walter Stoneman
negative, 1917
NPG x43359

Web image not currently available

Henry Selby Hele-Shaw

by Elliott & Fry
bromide print
NPG x89693

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Christine Caroppo

26 February 2021, 20:49

Dr. Hele-Shaw employed my grandmother Lily Cook and her aunt Elizabeth (Bess) Dobbs and uncle Frank Dobbs as domestic servants before WWII in London. They were all from Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire. The 1939 Census shows Dr. Hele-Shaw living with the Dobbs family in Ross and this may explain how he came to die and was buried there in 1941. Dr. Hele-Shaw was a gifted watercolourist and produced at least three images of the Wye Valley which he gave to Lily and Bess and are still in my family. Lily told me about the time she was a teen, in the 1920s, and working as a maid in the household in London. She remembers being woken in the middle of the night and cajoled up to the roof with the rest of the household to observe a lunar eclipse through a telescope that Dr. Hele-Shaw had set up. She always described him as a kind, gentle, man who treated his staff with respect and fondness.

Lynn Shaw Brown

04 September 2020, 08:45

Henry Selby Hele Shaw was the son of Henry Shaw,solicitor, and his wife Marion Selby Hele. He was born 1854, died 1941.
He was eldest of 12 surviving siblings, 8 brothers and 4 sisters. The family is filled with inventors, but he hails as the most accomplished.
His achievements are extremely diverse from the automobile clutch to water filters used to clean Bristol Bay after WWI. He perfected the modern
caster still produced in England today. The more lofty and scientific accomplishments are found in the full article/obit a link attached below from the South African Journal of Science, although they are more concerned with his civil engineering successes.

He had two children with his wife Ella Rathbone of Liverpool. Son Henry was shot down over Somme, France 1916, WWI. He had received a scholarship to Clare College, Cambridge just before the war broke out.
Daughter Rosamund married Harry Hall but had no surviving pregnancies.

Henry Hele-Shaw (" Hele" by family) has been called the greatest unknown mind in modern English history.

H.S. Hele-Shaw (1854–1941) was one of the most outstanding engineering scientists of his generation and an eminent figure in engineering education during the late-19th and early-20th centuries. His work in hydrodynamics (the Hele-Shaw cell and Hele-Shaw pump) and his important contribution to the successful development of high-speed aircraft (his variable pitch airscrew), continues to be relevant today. In 1922, as President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, he introduced the National Certificate scheme in Britain. It is not well known that Hele-Shaw spent two years in South Africa (1904–1905) attached to the Transvaal Technical Institute, a forerunner of the University of the Witwatersrand. One of only three Fellows of the Royal Society of London in southern Africa in 1905, he was a founder Council member of the Royal Society of South Africa and one of the hosts of the 1905 visit to southern Africa by the British Association for the Advancement of Science. The purpose of this paper is to highlight the time he spent in South Africa and to contextualise it within the larger perspective of his engineering career.
From "South African Journal of Science"
Jane Carruthers
Vol. 106 No. 1/2 Page 1 of 6 S Afr J Sci 34

I am happy to send you another 22 pg obituary if you like. It is more colorful.
Hele's next brother was my grandfather, Frederick George born 1855 a successful writer, fly fisherman, civil engineer; next brother, Archibald Downes Shaw a missionary; Edward revolutionized the candy industry with his own inventions, Philip Egerton was a physics professor, John Horne-Shaw became successful in Australia, Victor moved to Chile, an engineer, and George Livingstone, the youngest, was a military man.

Hele's cousin was Sir Reginald Bacon, Admiral of Her Majesty's Navy; a nephew, Sir Archibald Havergal Shaw, co- inventor of the modern tin can and
folding cardboard box, and Sir Christopher Curwen, head of MI6 (1985-1988).

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