Restel Ratsey Bevis – 1826-1901

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Restel Bevis

Restel Bevis was born in Cowes, Isle of Wight in March 1826, the son of Thomas and Hester (nee Ratsey) Bevis. He was the third of six children and his mother died following childbirth complications ten days after the birth of his brother James. His Hampshire born father was a naval commander and the family moved to Birkenhead for that reason.

Upon leaving education Restel commenced a five year apprenticeship with the long established engineering company Messrs Fawcett, Preston & Co in Liverpool. At the age of 20 he was sent by his employer to assist in fitting a set of paddle wheel engines to a steamer which was in Brazil and having impressed his employers, the following year he was again sent to Rio de Janeiro. He chose to remain in Brazil and moved to the employ of a company which built steam powered hoists, becoming one of their chief engineers; in 1847 was appointed superintendent engineer of the company. He met his first wife Jane Marsh, a Brazilian born British subject while there and the couple married in November 1850 in Rio. They went on to have 15 children, several of whom died in infancy. It was around 1855 that the couple returned to England and settled in Birkenhead. They lived firstly in Clifton Park and Restel was asked by John Laird to take charge of the company’s branch shipyard in south Liverpool.

From then on, he was closely identified with Laird and helped successfully deliver many large and important contracts awarded to the firm. In 1868 Restel invented and patented the renowned “Bevis patent feathering propeller” which was used with great success in many naval contracts as well as in the construction of many foreign vessels. In 1897 he retired from the firm and his eldest son, Restel junior, who had been associated with Lairds since 1870, took over his role.

When the firm became a limited company he was retained as a director and consulting engineer. He also took a leading role in local politics and in 1879 he was returned unopposed as a councillor for the town’s Argyle Ward. In 1900 he was offered the Mayoralty but due to ill health he felt obliged to decline the honour.

His wife Jane had died in 1877 and in 1890 he married for the second time to Jane Sanderson. They lived in Manor Hill, Claughton for the latter part of Restel’s life and he died there on 10th February 1901 leaving an estate estimated to be in the region of £8.2 million at today’s values. He is remembered on a brass plaque on a wall inside St Oswald’s Parish Church in Bidston Village.