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British Industrial History

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George Banks Rennie

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George Banks Rennie (1832-1908) of J. and G. Rennie

1831 Born in London, the son of George Rennie and his wife Margaret Anne nee Jackson

1851 George Rennie 58, civil engineer, lived in Charing Cross, London with Margeret Anne Rennie 44, John Keith Rennie 21, student at Cambridge, George Banks Rennie 20, civil engineer, Margaret Jane Rennie 17[1]

1859 George Banks Rennie, 21 Whitehall Place, Westminster.[2]

1860 A partner in the Holland Street Engine Manufactory when he was proposed for membership of Inst of Civil Engineers[3]

1860 Patent to George Banks Rennie, of the firm of George Rennie and Sons, Holland-street, Blackfriars, Engineer, in respect of the invention of "improvements in the construction and mode of working and employing floating platforms, pontoons, or docks for supporting ships or other vessels."[4]

1861 Patent to George Banks Rennie, of the firm of George Rennie and Sons, Holland-street, Blackfriars, Civil Engineer, in respect of the invention of "improvements in machinery, apparatus, and works of construction intended to be employed, and the mode or method of using or employing the same, for the purpose of examining or repairing ships and other vessels."[5]

1865 October 25th. Married at West Bagborough, Somerset, to Charlotte Julia Paget

1870s Numerous patents registered

1876 Birth of son John Assheton Rennie

1908 November 15th. Died in Hungerford, Plymouth, Iowa, USA

1908 Obituary [6]

GEORGE BANKS RENNIE was born in London on 11th January 1832.

He was the son of the late George Rennie whose name is associated with many maritime works, grandson of the late John Rennie, and nephew of the late Sir John Rennie, names long familiar in the annals of engineering.

The career originally intended for him was that of a naval officer, and he entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman in 1844. The attractions of engineering were however too strong, for in the course of a few years he left the Service and joined his father, with whom he undertook various works in connection with railway construction in Belgium.

In 1860 he was commissioned by the Spanish Government to design the first iron floating-dock ever constructed. This work was carried out successfully, the type of dock which he originated being known by the name of the Rennie floating-dock. The work was undertaken in connection with his firm, which was known as J. and G. Rennie. Their enterprise also found scope in the improvement and construction of marine engines, H.M. Ships "Bacchante," "Calliope," and "Calypso” being engined by the firm.

He took an active part in public affairs, and was for many years a member of the Surrey County Council. He was also one of the Governors of the Agricultural College at Wye. To this Institution he contributed a Paper on the "Pumping Machinery for emptying the Dry Docks at Chatham and at Rio de Janeiro," and a Report on the North-East Coast Exhibition of Marine Engineering, etc.

His death took place at Denford, Hungerford, on 15th November 1908, in his seventy-seventh year.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1859, was elected a Member of Council in 1878, and served as a Vice-President from 1882 to 1885. He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Naval Architects, and of the Royal Institution.

1908 Obituary [7]

. . . He served a full term of apprenticeship to his father, George Rennie, senior, at the Holland-street Engine Works of J. and G. Rennie. Of these works he shortly afterwards had the active and responsible direction, subsequently becoming a partner in the firm. One of the works with which his name is specially identified is the first iron floating dock ever made, which he designed and constructed in 1860. This was for the Spanish Government. He was also early associated with works connected with railways in Belgium. . . . [more]

1909 Obituary [8]

GEORGE BANKS RENNIE, who died at Denford, Hungerford, on the 15th November, 1908, had been connected with The Institution upwards of 50 years.

He was the grandson of the late Mr. John Rennie and son of the late Mr. George Rennie, both well-known engineers of their day, whilst his uncle was the late Sir John Rennie, Past-President of The Institution. George Banks Rennie entered the Royal Navy as a midshipman in 1844, but after a few years he left the service in order to enter the profession to which the family tradition and his native ability called him.

In 1860 he designed and constructed for the Spanish Government the first iron floating dock ever built, and this type of dock is now generally known as the Rennie floating dock. His firm, known as J. and G. Rennie, also designed and built the engines for H.M.SS. Bacchante, Calliope, Calypso and many other vessels, becoming well known in this class of work.

Mr. Rennie was for many years a member of the Surrey County Council, on which he did much good work, and was also a Governor of the Agricultural College at Wye. In the early years of his connection with The Institution he took an active interest in its proceedings, to which he made several valuable contributions, including in 1871 a Paper on Floating Docks.He was also a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, serving on the council and as vice-president for several years, and a Member of the Institution of Naval Architects and the Royal Institution. For 25 years he acted as treasurer of the Smeatonion Society of Civil Engineers.

In 1865 he married Charlotte Julia, youngest daughter of the late Mr. Stewart Paget, and leaves three sons and two daughters.

Mr. Rennie was elected an Associate of The Institution on the 3rd March, 1857, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 6th March, 1860.

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