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Frederick Lobnitz

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Sir Frederick Lobnitz (1863-1932) of Lobnitz and Co

son of Henry Christian Lobnitz

1932 Obituary [1]

Sir FREDERICK LOBNITZ, K.B.E., was a noteworthy figure in the shipbuilding industry on the Clyde. Sir Frederick was in his seventieth year at the time of his death, which occurred on 7th December 1932.

He was born at Renfrew on 7th September 1863, and completed his education in Germany at Bonn and Heidelberg. Upon his return in 1880 he commenced a five years' apprenticeship with Messrs. John Elder and Company, Fairfield, Glasgow.

In 1886 he took a twelve months' course at the Zurich Polytechnic School. He was subsequently allotted the task of superintending the construction of a subaqueous rock excavator then being built by his father's firm, Messrs. Lobnitz and Company of Renfrew, who specialized in dredging plant. He was also sent out to direct submarine rock excavations for the Suez Canal.

In 1887 Sir Frederick joined his father's firm and became a partner in 1890, and in later years chairman of the company, which position he held at the time of his death. Many of the important undertakings of Sir Frederick's firm were carried out by the method of excavating rock under water without the use of explosives. He introduced the limit gauge system into his works in 1901, and was a strong advocate of the universal adoption of the metric system of weights and measures.

Upon the outbreak of War Sir Frederick placed his services at the disposal of the Government and early in 1915 went to France to visit and report upon the employment of unskilled and female labour in munition factories.

On the formation of the Ministry of Munitions in 1915, Sir Frederick was appointed Deputy Director of Munitions in Scotland in co-operation with Lord Weir, whom he succeeded in 1916 as Director. He was awarded the Croix d'Officier of the Legion of Honour by the French Government in 1919 and in the following year was created a K.B.E.

He had been a Member of the Institution since 1898, and he was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

1932 Obituary[2]


The death of Sir Frederick Lobnitz, K.B.E., D.L., which occurred on December 7 at his home, Ross Hall, Crookston, Renfrewshire, removes an outstanding figure from the ranks of the Clyde shipbuilders and marine engineers. A son of the late Mr. Henry Christian Lobnitz, of Renfrew, who served in H.M. Navy during the Crimean War, and grandson of Mr. Frederick Lobnitz, of Copenhagen, Sir Frederick was born at Renfrew on September 7, 1863. In May, 1878, in his fifteenth year, he was sent to Germany to complete his education and studied at Bonn and Heidelberg, returning to his native county in August, 1880. Three months later he entered upon an apprenticeship of five years with Messrs. John Elder and Company, Fairfield, Glasgow, and on completing this in September, 1886, he proceeded to the Zurich Polytechnic School, where he studied for a period of about twelve months. When he returned home in August, 1887, he was given the task of superintending the construction of the subaqueous rock excavator, S.S. Derocheuse, then being built by his father’s firm, Messrs. Lobnitz and Company, Renfrew, and, in the following year he spent several months directing submarine rock excavations in the Suez Canal. The young engineer joined the firm of Messrs. Lobnitz in October, 1888, and became partner to his father in 1890. In the years which followed he became engaged on the design and construction of numerous dredgers and similar craft, and was responsible for the introduction of numerous new applications and devices. Many of these were tried out on a large scale, and proving completely successful, were incorporated in the design of sand-pump and bucket dredgers and rock-excavating vessels. Mr. Lobnitz, as he was then, eventually became Chairman of Messrs. Lobnitz and Company, Limited, and continued to occupy this position until his death.

When the European war broke out, Mr. Lobnitz placed his services at the disposal of H.M. Government. At the request of Mr. Lloyd George he proceeded to France in the early part of 1915 to visit a number of munition factories employing unskilled and female labour, and to report on the feasibility of establishing similar factories in this country. His report was favourable to the scheme, and soon after the formation of the Ministry of Munitions in 1915 he was appointed Deputy Director of Munitions for Scotland. Lord Weir—at that time Mr. William Weir—was Director, and both gentlemen continued to co-operate in expediting the production of war material until December, 1916, when Lord Weir was appointed to the Air Board in London. Mr. Lobnitz was requested by the then | Minister of Munitions, Dr. Addison, to take up the duties of Director of Munitions for Scotland in succession to Lord Weir. This he agreed to do, and continued to hold the appointment until 1919. While occupying this position, he displayed great energy in organising and co-ordinating the efforts of his countrymen in the production of ordnance and ammunition. For his great services to his country during the war he was made a knight of the Order of the British Empire in 1920, and also received the Croix d’Officier of the Legion of Honour from the French Government. In addition, he was admitted a burgess, freeman and guild brother of the Royal Burgh of Renfrew. Sir Frederick was for many years Deputy Lieutenant and Justice of the Peace for Renfrewshire. He was admitted to associate membership of the Institution of Civil Engineers on January 8, 1889, and became a member on April 10, 1900. He was made a member of the Institution of Naval Architects in 1896, and of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1898. He was elected a graduate of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland in March, 1885, and rose to full membership rank in November, 1896."

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