Ralph Dowson was John Taylor's partner and was the pioneering promoter of their business interests. Where John Taylor preferred to remain at the technological helm and oversee the day-to-day management of their business, it was Ralph Dowson who travelled to represent the firm and to gather new clients and contracts on a global scale.
In 1896, having married only some eighteen months before, it was one such trip - to India - that ended in his illness and subsequent death. The following is his obituary from the "Sprinkler Bulletin" of June 30th 1896.
"The sad news of the death of our friend and colleague, Mr. Ralph Dowson, came with a shock of surprise to many in this country. It was only in October last that he had started on a business journey to India which was to extend over five months; and just at the time when his return home was expected, news came that he had been stricken down with serious illness at Ahmedabad, then that he had managed to get as far as Bombay, whence better reports came home, only to be followed a few weeks after that a relapse had occurred and that pneumonia had supervened and that he had died on the morning of Good Friday, April 3rd from failure of the heart's action.
The sadness of this event was enhanced by the fact that he had completed the business which had taken him to India and had actually booked his passage home at the time when he was stricken down; and also that he was accompanied on this journey by the young wife whom he had married only eighteen months ago. To her in her bereavement under such sad and distressing circumstances, the sympathy of all those who were his friends will go out in large measure.
Those who knew Ralph Dowson best will mourn him most and those who were best able to estimate the sterling worth of his character will realise most fully how great his loss is and how much poorer they are by his death. He was a man of indomitable energy and untiring perseverance who never shirked any labour or evaded any self-sacrifice when duty called him to undertake a task and it was in keeping with his whole career that he should "die in harness".
He was, moreover, a man of sterling humour, true to himself and true to all who trusted him and his simple character and kindly manners endeared him to his colleagues and to his subordinates.
Mr Dowson was born at Leeds in 1851. In conjunction with Mr. John Taylor he, in 1883, established in Bolton, Lancashire, the firm of Dowson and Taylor, manufacturers of all sorts of fire appliances. This business, together with the Grinnell Sprinkler department of Mather and Platt, of the Salford Iron Works, Manchester, was in 1888 merged in to a private limited company under the title of Dowson, Taylor & Co. Ltd. Of this company, Mr. Dowson was from the beginning one of the managing directors and to his zeal, energy and enthusiasm no small amount of its success is due. His loss will be long and deeply felt."
The untimely death of the man who had lent his name to the original Dowson-Taylor partnership, while still a young man and apparently at the heyday of his career, was a heavy blow to his colleagues in the firm. Based on the considered opinion of John Taylor who, near the end of his business career, when he himself enjoyed an outstanding reputation among his business associates and had travelled in all parts of the civilised world in search of business and had met Kings, Princes, Government Officials and all men of Big Business in every country, described his original partner as One of the finest business men I have ever met: a man of wonderful vision, a typical English gentleman and a man with whom it was a delight to work. To the end of his life, whenever John Taylor spoke of Ralph Dowson he did so with deep emotion.
Ralph Dowson's younger brother, Fred, was later to become associated with Mather & Platt Ltd. and earned an illustrious reputation within that firm.
Click on the hypertext link here or on the image of Ralph Dowson (above) to access details of Fred Dowson