Harry Brearley was born in February 1871 the son of John and Jane Brearley. At the time the family lived in Sheffield.
He left school at the age of twelve to enter employment as a labourer in Thomas Firth and Sons steelworks, being transferred soon afterwards to the post of general assistant in the company’s chemical laboratory.
For several years, in addition to his laboratory work, he studied at home and later in evening classes, to specialize in steel production techniques and associated chemical analysis methods.
Whilst carrying out some research with steel he found a formula which made steel resistant to rust. First known as rustless steel it soon became known as stainless steel. The first production of rustless steel was thought to be in 1913. Harry saw the potential for utilising this in cutlery. However the production of stainless steel cutlery had to wait until after the war.
The 1911 census shows Harry with his wife Helen and son Leo to be living at Elmwood House, Old Whittington.
Whilst being resident in Old Whittington for only a few years he was very active in the community being a Vice President of numerous sporting groups. In 1920 he was now living in Walton however returned to assist in the opening of Brearley Park on land he had purchased and gave to the community. (See newspaper references below). Harry was very keen that the park should be open on Sundays, something that was controversial at the time.
After living in Walton for a few years in 1929 Harry and Helen settled in Torquay, Devon.
In 1941 Harry established the Freshgate Foundation his wish being “Operate and support ideas which are likely to make life more bearable, cheerful and attractive to people who have a limited choice in the occupations they follow and the locality and surroundings in which they live.”
The Trust is still in existence and supports people in Sheffield and South Yorkshire.
The Torbay Civic Society has erected a Blue Plaque to the gatepost at Harry Brearley’s final home, Walton Cottage, Livermead, Torquay, where he had lived from 1930 until his death in 1948. (North East Derbyshire Industrial Archeology Society (NEDIAS) Newsletter No. 73 – February 2019)
If you want to know about Harry there is an interesting article about him in the NEDIAS Newsletter No. 52 – November 2013
There is a great deal written by and about Harry and much can be referenced through his Wikipedia entry.
There is also a nice insight through an article by W.A.D Glossop ‘Aunty Wyn’s Briefcase’
An obituary can be found here
A couple of articles re Brearley Park can be found below