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Henry Morrison Rounthwaite

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Henry Morrison Rounthwaite (1852-1924)


1924 Obituary [1]

HENRY MORRISON ROUNTHWAITE was born at Sunderland on 23rd December 1852.

After attending a private school, he served an apprenticeship from 1868 to 1872 at the Sunderland Works of the North Eastern Marine Engineering Co., spending the last three months in the drawing office. During the next two years he worked as a draughtsman at the same works, attending science classes in the evenings.

In 1874, to gain further experience, he went into the drawing office of Messrs. Earle and Co., Hull, and two years later took up the post of Resident Engineer at Whitburn Colliery.

In 1878 he was appointed Assistant Manager and Chief of the drawing office at Messrs. William Doxford and Sons' new engine works at Pallion, Sunderland, and when the firm commenced engine building he was responsible for the design of all the machinery.

In 1882 he accepted an invitation to take charge of and reorganize the drawing offices of Messrs. Maudslay, Sons and Field, holding the position of Joint Chief Engineer (with the late Charles Sells). The work was of a very varied nature, comprising the manufacture of delicate machines for weighing coin, etc., and 20,000 h.p. engines for battleships, steam-pumps, air-compressors, dynamo engines, boilers, etc.

Early in 1892 Mr. Rounthwaite started in practice as a Consulting Engineer, and during the following three years he was engaged on refitting the kitchens of Leavesden Asylum and Bow Road Infirmary, also assisting in alterations at Deptford Cattle Market, etc.

In 1895 he was asked by Messrs. Maudslays to return to them as Chief Engineer. This post beheld until June 1900, when, owing to financial difficulties, the firm came to an end.

Mr. Rounthwaite then resumed his consulting work, joining in partnership with Mr. A. E. Seaton, who for many years had been Director and General Manager of Messrs. Earle's, of Hull. Previously they had collaborated in the production of a pocket book, which has been used all over the world and translated into Russian.

In 1903 he was appointed Mechanical Engineer to the London County Council, and held this post until his retirement in 1920. During this period his responsibilities were very heavy, covering a wide range of work, which comprised, among other things, the maintenance of sewage pumping machinery, sludge steamers, three Woolwich ferry-boats, boilers and machinery at polytechnics, colleges., etc.

In 1901 the Council decided to run a service of passenger steamers on the River Thames, and thirty of these were built under Mr. Rounthwaite's direction, repairing and maintaining them until they were taken over by the Tramways Department.

In the last year of his service, 1920, it devolved upon him to prepare drawings and specifications for a large part of the heating apparatus for the new County Hall at Westminster Bridge.

His death took place at his residence at Putney Hill, on 8th March 1924, in his seventy-second year.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1893.


1924 Obituary[2]

"THE LATE MR. H. M. ROUNTHWAITE.

We regret to announce the death, which occurred on Saturday last, the 8th instant, of Mr. Henry Morrison Rounthwaite, who for nearly twenty years acted as mechanical engineer to the London County Council — first under Sir Maurice Fitzmaurice and afterwards under Mr. G. W. Humphreys, the present chief engineer to the Council. Although Mr. Rounthwaite’s most important work was carried out while in the service of the Council, his name is perhaps more familiar to engineers as the joint author, with Mr. A. E. Seaton, of the well-known pocket book of marine engineering rules and tables which was first issued in 1893 and has now reached its 15th edition.

The subject of our memoir was born on December 23, 1852, so that he was in his 72nd year at the time of his death. He entered the works of the North-Eastern Marine Engineering Company at Sunderland in 1867, where he served five years as an apprentice and two years as a draughtsman. In the latter capacity he was employed by the Earles’ Company at Hull, from 1874 to 1876, after which he acted for a short time as assistant and resident engineer at the Whitburn Colliery, Durham. In 1878, Mr. Rounthwaite entered the service of Messrs. Wm. Doxford and Sons, of Sunderland, as chief draughtsman and assistant works manager, retaining this position until 1882 when he joined the staff of Messrs. Maudslay, Sons and Field at Lambeth, where he remained for about ten years. In this connection we may refer our readers to an interesting account of some of the old manhine tools employed at these works, of which particulars will be found on pages 65 and 134 of our 71st volume.

After leaving the Lambeth works in 1892, Mr. Rounthwaite set up as a consulting engineer, with offices in Victoria Street, Westminster, and in this business he was engaged until 1903, when he was appointed assistant in the Mechanical Section of the London County Council, being promoted to the position of mechanical engineer to the Council later in the same year on the death of Mr. E. T. Atkinson. Mr. Rounthwaite’s first work for the Council was to design and superintend the construction of the 30 steamboats employed in the Thames service, which was started in 1905 and discontinued in the autumn of 1907. Full particulars of these vessels will be found on pages 573 and 779 of our 79th volume. His more important work, however, was in connection with the London main drainage system. Various storm-water pumping stations for the system were carried out to his designs and under his supervision, notably those at Falcon Brook, Shad Thames, and Abbey Mills. The last-mentioned pumping station, which was completed in 1912, contains seven Premier vertical gas engines, each of 400 h.p., driving 38-in. centrifugal pumps.

Prior to this, Mr. Rounthwaite installed at the Deptford sewage pumping station two six-cylinder, vertical, single-acting ram pumps, this work having been carried out in 1906-07, and later he designed the alterations necessary for compounding the four 155 h.p. beam engines at the Deptford station. Another important work carried out by the deceased gentleman from 1914 to 1915, was the extension of the Crossness sewage plant, where he installed four triple-expansion pumping engines, each of 400 h.p. and driving 38-in. Boving centrifugal pumps. Much work of a miscellaneous character, such as the design of penstocks, cast-iron culverts, flaps, &c., required for the construction and maintenance of the London sewers is carried on by the department of which Mr. Rounthwaite was head. The department, which is now under the direction of Mr. A. C. Beard, is also responsible for the upkeep of the Council’s sludge steamers and of the Woolwich ferry steamers.

Mr. Rounthwaite, who was a member of both the Institution of Naval Architects and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, was due to retire under the age limit in 1918, but his services were retained for a further period of two years on the ground that his retirement at that time would have caused inconvenience to the public services. He actually retired in June, 1920, but his services were still utilised in a consultative capacity in connection with the heating installation at the new County Hall, Lambeth, until 1922. Mr. Rounthwaite, although not greatly in the public eye in recent years, was highly esteemed by those with whom he came into immediate contact and his strongly-marked characteristics of thoroughness and integrity were particularly valuable assets to the service in which he was engaged.


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