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Claude William Kinder

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1887. Siee Ho Bridge, China Railways, designed with James Cleminson.

Claude William Kinder (1852-1936) was an English engineer. For over thirty years he was engineer-in-chief of the Kaiping Tramway and Imperial Railways of North China.

1852 August 10th. Born in Ireland the third son of Major Thomas William Kinder (1817-1884) and his wife Mary Elizabeth Wheeler (1817-1887). His father served as Master of the Hong Kong Mint from 1863–1868 and the Director of the Imperial Japanese Mint in Osaka between 1870 and 1875,

1861 Living at 8 Belsize Park, Hampstead: Thos. Wm. Kinder (age 43 born London), Captain 3rd York West Militia. With his wife Mary Elizth. Kinder (age 43 born Worcester) and their three children Ada P. Kinder (age 10 born Stoke Prior, Worcs.); Claude Wm. Kinder (age 8 born Ireland); and Edith L. Kinder (age 2 born France?). Four servants.[1]

Tutored by his father, Claude later studied railway engineering in St. Petersburg

1873 Obtained his first professional appointment as an assistant engineer with Imperial Japanese Railways

1878 Forced to leave Japan because of civil war, he moved to Shanghai where he met Tong King-sing who appointed him as an engineer with the Chinese Engineering and Mining Company at Tangshan near to the ancient walled city of Kaiping. Kinder’s initial brief was to help with the sinking of coal mine shafts at the new colliery and to construct a railway from the mines to the nearest navigable river. Chinese politics initially prevented the building of this railway and in consequence Kinder surveyed and built a canal for coal barges to operate between the river at Lutai and Hsukochuang (Xugezhuang) from where a short tramway was constructed to Tangshan.

The government authority for the tramway had intended that only mules were to be used for hauling coal wagons but Kinder (with Tong King Sing's connivance) secretly constructed a home-built steam locomotive which was christened “The Rocket of China”, the first steam locomotive ever made in China. From these early beginnings the ‘Kaiping Tramway’ evolved into China’s first major railway line and administration known as Imperial Railways of North China and later, after the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty, the Peking-Mukden Railway. Kinder served this railway as Engineer-in-Chief for some thirty years until retirement in 1909.

1879 Married(1) in Japan to Mary Asai

The Chinese Government appointed Kinder as an Honorary Chinese official and he was decorated with the Imperial Order of the Double Dragon.

In 1900 Kinder was made a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George by the British Government in recognition of his services to the development of railways (and British financial interests) in China.

1911 Living at Kelvin, Avondale Road, Fleet: Claude William Kinder (age 58 born Ireland), Retired Civil Engineer. With his wife Mary Kinder (age 49 born Japan). Two servants.[2]

1923 Married(2) to Mary Elizabeth Bonshor and had son George William Kinder (1925-2001)

1936 August 9th. Died in Churt, England.


1936 Obituary [3]

WE regret to note the death of Mr. C. W. Kinder, who was a pioneer of railway construction in China. He was for thirty-one years general manager and engineer-in-chief of the Imperial Chinese Railways.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1861 Census
  2. 1911 Census
  3. The Engineer 1936/08/14