Born on 19 March 1871 at Stockton-on-Tees and educated at Middlesborough High School, the Friends' School, Ackworth and Stockton High School. After one year at The Leys School he went to Owen College, Victoria University, Manchester, where he graduated in Chemistry in 1891 and a year later spent a year studying indoxazen derivatives in a Heidelberg laboratory. After three years on the staff of Battersea Polytechnic he became head of the Chemistry Department; then returned to Owen College in 1898 as lecturer in Chemistry and metallurgy. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1905. From 1906 to 1912 he was Livesey Professor of Gas and Fuel Technology at the University of Leeds; then Professor of Chemistry Technology at London University until his retirement in 1936.
Over many years he made a special study of hydrocarbon combustion, taking up long neglected experiments of John Dalton and his own interest in blast furnace technology. He was frequently consulted by industry and was joint author of Coal, its Constitution and Uses (1936). His work earned him medals from the Institute of Fuel (1931), the Society of Chemical Industry (1933) and the Royal Society (1936).
He died in London on 11 June 1938.