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James Denis Twinberrow

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James Denis Twinberrow (1866-1932) of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, of the North Eastern Railway and of Sheffield and Twinberrow

1932 Obituary [1]

JAMES DENIS TWINBERROW, as will be remembered by many members, died suddenly on 10th February 1932, a few weeks after reading his paper on "The Mechanism of Electric Locomotives" at the January meeting of the Institution. This paper was a fitting climax to his career as an authority on the mechanical aspects of railway electrification problems, and was the culmination of a long series of contributions to the technical literature on this subject.

Mr. Twinberrow was born in 1866 and studied at the Durham College of Science, Newcastle, and the Firth College, Sheffield. He commenced his apprenticeship in 1884 as a pupil of the late Mr. T. W. Worsdell, M.I.Mech.E., at the Great Eastern Railway works, Stratford, and from 1886 to 1889 was engaged in the drawing office of the North Eastern Railway at Gateshead.

During the ensuing two years he was engineer and manager for the extensions of the Pembury works of Messrs. Elliott's Metal Company.

He then became engineer and manager for Messrs. Allen Everitt and Company of Smethwick, and was afterwards responsible for the design of workshop extensions and hydraulic machinery for the Hydraulic Engineering Company of Chester.

From July 1892 until 1897 he was manager of the Patent Axlebox and Foundry Company of Saltley, Birmingham.

He subsequently entered into partnership with Mr. G. H. Sheffield, M.I.Mech.E., of London, and in conjunction with him designed many types of self-discharging vehicles.

Mr. Twinberrow was latterly engaged in the traction department of Messrs. Merz and McLellan. He gained a Whitworth Exhibition in 1888.

He had been a Member of the Institution since 1902, and was also an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.

1932 Obituary[2]


Mechanical engineers will hear with great regret of the death, which occurred on Wednesday, the 10th inst., of Mr. James Denis Twinherrow. The occurrence which in itself was tragic by its suddenness, will strike many of his friends as the more so by the fact that only a fortnight previously he had read an excellent paper before the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in London, which was in course of being repeated at some of the provincial centres.

Mr. Twinberrow was born on Ootober 9, 1866. He was educated at Hanley Castle Grammar School, and subsequently attended technical classes at the Durham College of Science, Newcastle, and the Firth College, Sheffield. He served his apprenticeship under the late Mr. T. W. Worsdell, commencing this in 1884, while Mr. Worsdell was still locomotive superintendent of the Great Eastern Railway. When Mr. Worsdell transferred in 1886 to the North-Eastern Railway as locomotive superintendent, Twinberrow left the Stratford Works and went up to Gateshead. On the completion of his apprenticeship in 1889, he was taken into the drawing office, and was subsequently attached to the inspecting staff.

Although Mr. Twinherrow is best known for his work in connection with railway rolling-stock, his early appointments were not in this connection. He was for about a couple of years engineer and manager at the Pembrey Copper Works of Messrs. Elliott’s Metal Company at Burry Port, where he was responsible for extensions, including electro-deposition plant, special plant for pumping cupric sulphate, ore-crushing and furnace-charging machinery, &c. His next appointment was as engineer and manager of the Bridge-street Works of Messrs. Allen, Everitt and Sons, Limited, Smethwick, where he was responsible for new plant for the manufacture of tubes, &c. He was also responsible about this time for extensions and hydraulic plant for the Hydraulic Engineering Company Limited, Chester.: From 1892 until 1897 he was manager of the Patent Axle-Box and Foundry Company, Limited, Works, at Saltley.

In 1897 he entered into partnership with Mr. G. H. Sheffield, as consultants in connection with the design of engineering plant, and more particularly rolling-stock, and generally on the subject of railway transport economics. From 1905 till Ï910 he was in charge as chief draughtsman of the designing work for the Carriage and Wagon Department of the North-Eastern Railway. He was an ardent advocate of large-capacity wagons, and was concerned with the movement on that system to substitute 20-ton vehicles built of steel for the smaller wooden types then common, but he did not think things should stop there, though he admitted that the high-capacity wagon could not be universally adopted in this country.

In 1899, Mr. Twinberrow contributed an article to this journal on high-capacity wagons for mineral traffic,* and in 1900 he read a paper before the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on the capacity railway wagons as affecting transport, in which the argument led up to the advocacy of vehicles of larger capacity. This was followed up by a paper submitted to the Institution of Civil Engineers on the construction of railway wagon stock of steel and of larger capacity than the small wooden units then common. This paper was taken with two others in 1903, and the group, of whioh Mr. Twinherrow’s certainly formed not the least interesting, elicited a considerable amount of discussion and subsequent correspondence. English railways were at the time experimenting with bogie and hopper stock, already in considerable use in the Colonies and abroad. Mr. Twinberrow strongly advocated the extended use of hopper wagons, and his papers contained designs for suoh vehicles of high capacity.

Mr. Twinherrow had already contributed to the Institution of Civil Engineers a paper entitled “ Flexible Wheelbases of Railway Rolling Stook.” For. this he had been awarded a Miller Prize. His latest contribution to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, on “ The Mechanism of Electric Locomotives,” will be too fresh in the minds of our readers for it to he necessary^for us to deal with it. Besides these contributions Mr. Twinherrow was a frequent contributor to discussions on such matters as he was interested in, and though to some extent handicapped, in the matter of delivery, as a speaker his remarks invariably added material of value owing to the care and thought he brought to bear on his analysis of points arising in design.

At one time and another he contributed articles and correspondence to the columns of the technical press, and we have frequently published matter from his pen. In recent years, for instance, we printed an article analysing the various methods of transmitting the drive from the motors to the wheels in electrio locomotives ; another was concerned with the breakage of locomotive and bogie side frames, and a third with the impact of gears in nose-suspension traction motors. These were subjects which he also referred to in his recent paper before the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Mr. Twinberrow joined the staff of the firm of Messrs. Merz and McLellan in 1913, as assistant engineer for traction, but he retired from this in 1930 to re-engage in private consulting practice.

He had a wide knowledge of applied mathematics and graphical statistics, which he combined with a practical inventive faculty which led to many solutions of mechanical problems. He was well versed in the classics, and was possessed of a philosophical and tolerant outlook on life.

He was a Whitworth Exhibitioner of 1889, became an associate-member of the Institution of Civil Engineers in 1893, and a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1902."

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