- Henry Archer
Henry Archer (1806–1863) was the son of an Irish landowner and was educated at
Trinity College, Dublin. He was called to the Irish Barand spent most of his time between North Walesand London.
In railway circles, Archer is known mostly for the
Ffestiniog Railway, which was the major work of his life, a fiery temper, a large frame and an even larger personality. A few recall his long running but fruitless championship of the various Porth Dinllaenrailway and harbour projects.
Ffestiniogslate industry should be grateful to Henry Archer for being in the right place at the right time. It was at the Penygroes Inn in 1829 that Archer met Samuel Holland Jnr., of Rhiwbryfdir slate mine at Blaenau Ffestiniogwho was returning from Caernarfonwhere he banked with Williams and Co. He had travelled between Caernarfon and Penygroes as a passenger on the horse drawn Nantlle Tramway and had called at the Inn for a cup of tea before collecting his horse and riding home.
In conversation, Archer expressed an interest in the
Nantlle Railwaythat was apparently quietly seeking a purchaser. Holland, it is said, suggested that Archer should leave Nantlle to its fate and turn his energies to building a proper railway from Ffestiniog to Porthmadog. A detailed discussion followed and Archer became involved with Holland in the promotion of the Ffestiniog Railway Company.
It was left to Archer as the Managing Director designate to raise the initial capital of £24,185 largely on the
Dublin Stock Exchange(including £11,905 of his own money). He was the driving force also in steering the bill through Parliament and in managing the company during construction and through its early years when Archer had to persuade a suspicious slate industry to entrust its slate transport to a railway. Archer quarrelled with his fellow directors, with the Oakeley Estate and with James Spooner and was less active in FR company affairs after the railway opened. In 1836 he sued the FR company for his salary and received a substantial settlement. Nominally he remained as Managing Director until 1856 and as a director until 1860, when the FR Co. gave him a pension of £100 per annum as the originator of the FR and for devoting many years to its service.
Philatelists know Henry Archer as the inventor of the first postage stamp perforating machine, which he patented in 1848, to facilitate stamp separation. Following the successful
Prince Consort Essaytrials in 1853, he sold his copyright and patents to the Postmaster General for £4,000. In early trials, his alternative Archer Roulettemachines failed to work well.
Archer died in
* [http://www.ffestiniograilway.co.uk/index.asp The Ffestiniog Railway Company's website]
* [http://frheritage.org.uk/wiki/Henry_Archer The Festiniog Railway Heritage Group Wiki entry for him]
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