Frank Lawrence Hutchens life and biography

Frank Lawrence Hutchens picture, image, poster

Frank Lawrence Hutchens biography

Date of birth : 1918-06-28
Date of death : 1966-10-21
Birthplace : Cobar, New South Wales, Australia
Nationality : Australian
Category : Arhitecture and Engineering
Last modified : 2011-05-31
Credited as : Steelworks engineer, ,

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Frank Lawrence Wellington Hutchens, steelworks engineer, was born on 28 June 1918 at Cobar, New South Wales.

In the early 1920s the Cobar mine closed and John moved his family to Waratah, Newcastle. He found a job at the Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd's new steelworks and was later storekeeper and purchasing officer at the nearby works of what became the Commonwealth Steel Co. Ltd (Comsteel). Frank excelled in sport and academic studies, and was dux of the Marist Bros' school, Hamilton. In November 1935 he joined Comsteel as a trainee-engineer. Having gained an engineering diploma (1940) from Sydney Technical College, in 1942 he was appointed assistant to the superintendent of the mills. At Corpus Christi Catholic Church, Waratah, on 27 February 1943 he married Patricia Mary Rooney, a cook.

Able and industrious, Hutchens was promoted assistant works superintendent in March 1954 and an executive-officer in the following year. Within months he was in charge of planning the introduction to Australia of the cold-rolling process for stainless steel. He made three trips abroad to study the process, assemble data and subsequently check on the progress of plant being manufactured at engineering centres in the United States of America and Europe. The site chosen for the £4 million strip-mill was farmland at Unanderra, close to the section of the Australian Iron and Steel Ltd's steelworks at Port Kembla from where the hot-rolled feed-strip would be obtained.

Hutchens was promoted assistant-manager in 1957 and moved to Unanderra to supervise the construction of the works. A rambling creek was redirected from the property, huge quantities of fill were spread to raise the ground above flood-level, rail and road bridges were erected to give access to the site, and power lines were diverted. His management skills were such that building proceeded according to plan and the plant was commissioned in September 1959, three months ahead of schedule. It was the first large contract undertaken by the new construction company, Transfield Pty Ltd. The Comsteel works was well served by rail and road, and Hutchens ensured that the grounds were beautified with gardens.

In 1961 Hutchens returned to Newcastle. Next year he was appointed general manager of Comsteel. A council-member of the Association of Australian Forging Industries, he joined the Federal government's Export Development Council in 1965 and was invited to chair the Newcastle study-tours committee of the Duke of Edinburgh's third Commonwealth Study Conference. Hutchens was a keen golfer and president of the Steel Works Golf Club. Popular, charming and a gifted speaker, he believed in playing as hard as he worked. He died suddenly of a coronary occlusion on 21 October 1966 while holidaying at Gosford and was buried in Sandgate cemetery, Newcastle. His wife, daughter and two sons survived him.

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