1852 – 1932, Widnes Scientist, Industrialist and Public Figure
Sir Henry Wade Deacon was a son of Henry Deacon, a major industrialist and one of the first entrepreneurs to establish chemical works in Widnes. Henry Deacon counted Michael Faraday, one of the most influential scientists in history, as one of his family friends and he himself filed a large number of patents for discoveries in alkali manufacture and presented a number of papers to distinguished learned societies. He also played a significant part in public life in Widnes.
One of Henry Deacon’s seven sons and four daughters, Sir Henry followed in his father’s footsteps. He had a strong interest in science and education and was a prominent figure in Widnes and the wider area, acting as a Justice of the Peace and Pro-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool from 1930 to 1932. He also served on what’s now Lancashire County Council and in July 1912, was presented with the Freedom of the Borough of Widnes for his extensive work in the educational field.
In 1931, the local grammar school opened its main building opposite Victoria Park in Widnes and named it Wade Deacon Grammar School in recognition of his work for many years as chairman of the Local Education Committee. Now Wade Deacon High School, it traces its history back to 1507, when the original grammar school was founded by Bishop William Smyth. In the 21st century, the school’s focus on science and technology continues Widnes’ long tradition as a major chemical town.
Louise McTigue is a freelance writer and researcher, writing on behalf of Sarsfield Memorials.