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British Industrial History

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Alfred Thompson

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Alfred Thompson (1818-1864)

1838 Alfred Thompson of Eccleston Street, London, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]


1865 Obituary [2]

MR. ALFRED THOMPSON was born at Queen’s Row, Chelsea, in the year 1818, and received the greater part of his early education under Mr. Sheepshanks, at the St. Peter’s Grammar School, Eaton Square, Pimlico.

He was articled to his father, Mr. George Thompson, of the Eccleston Ironworks, Pimlico, and continued in his service until 1842, when he was admitted into the firm of G. Thompson and Sons; and from the year 1844 to the period of his decease, he was the managing partner, in addition to which duties, he practised as a Civil and Consulting Engineer.

He was extensively employed in designing and constructing sanitary apparatus, and made the name of his firm familiar in London to every trade connected with gas and water supply, sewage works, &c. His stove for cooking by ordinary coal-gas was the first successful apparatus of the kind, and it was largely used.

In 1854 he was elected 'Inspector of Furnaces' for the metropolis under 'The Smoke Nuisance Act,' and he continued to act in that capacity until 1858.

In 1855 he drew up a Report on 'Extension of the Smoke Nuisance Act,' addressed to Sir Richard Mayne, in which he proved that smoke might be prevented in any kind of manufacture in London, and urged the authorities to advocate the extension of the Act to the large works adjacent to the City. Mr. Thompson’s knowledge of chemistry and mechanics rendered him peculiarly fitted for the duties of Inspector under the Act, and he performed them fearlessly.

In 1861, when the spire of Chichester Cathedral fell, Mr. Thompson made a careful examination of the ruins, and after testing part of the material, he discovered that the limestone with which the spire had been built, had been laid constructively in its weakest position, and that it was a wonder how it existed so long under such conditions. The result of his testing and analysis was laid before a Meeting of 'The Royal Institute of British Architects,' and was published in the 'Builder,' August 13th, 1861.

In 1856 he was elected an Associate of the Archaeological Society; and from the memoir of him, which is printed in the Obituary of the Proceedings of that Society, he appears to have been an intelligent and indefatigable member.

He joined the Institution of Civil Engineers, as an Associate, on the 29th February, 1838, and was a constant attendant at the Meetings, taking great interest in the proceedings. He was a good mechanic, and by reading and frequent attendance at the scientific Meetings of the metropolis, he acquired a considerable insight into the progressive improvements of the period.

He was an amiable man, and his decease, on the 4th of January, 1864, in the forty-sixth year of his age, was severely felt by his family and friends.


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