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James Foster King

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James Foster King (1862-1947) of the British Corporation Register of Shipping.

1915 Member of the Departmental Committee on Bulkheads



1947 Obituary [1]

WE greatly regret to record the death, in Glasgow on August 11th, of Dr. J. Foster King, who for over fifty years was actively associated with the work of the British Corporation Register of Shipping. For thirty-six of those years he was Chief Surveyor to the Corporation, in which position he made some notable contributions to naval architecture and shipbuilding.

James Foster King was born at Erskine in 1862 and was educated at the Glasgow High School. His apprenticeship began with Russell and Co., of Port Glasgow, when he was about fifteen, and a few years later he was put in charge of the drawing-office when the firm opened its new yard at Greenock.

From there he went to the drawing- office of Messrs. Earle's shipbuilding yard at Hull, and subsequently to Harland and Wolff, Ltd., at Belfast, where he took charge of a separate drawing-office which was concerned with the building of the "Majestic" and the "Teutonic."

When the British Corporation Register of Shipping was founded in 1890, Foster King was appointed Principal Surveyor under Professor Jenkins. Later, he became Assistant Chief Surveyor under Mr. Courtier-Dutton, whom he succeeded as Chief Surveyor in 1904.

It may justly be said that there are probably very few merchant ships to-day which do not show in their construction some traces of Dr. Foster King's influence in the development of ships' structures. Freeboard regulations and the basic principles underlying them were among his special interests, and his knowledge of the subject has been recognised both nationally and internationally, as also has his work on the Bulkhead Committees from 1912 to 1915 and in 1923-24, on which the main requirements of the International Convention of 1929 are based. At the International Conference on Safety of Life at Sea in 1929 and at the Conference on Load Lines in the following year, Dr. Foster King was a prominent member of the British Government delegation.

He retired from the position of Chief Surveyor of the British Corporation Register in November, 1940, and in recognition of his outstanding services was elected an Honorary Member of the Corporation.

Dr. Foster King contributed many papers to the proceedings of technical societies, both in this country and overseas. H e was an Honorary Vice-President of the Institution of Naval Architects, an Honorary Fellow of the North-East Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders, and an Honorary Member of the Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland. He was also a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers in America. The honour of C.B.E. was conferred upon him in 1920, and the University of Glasgow recognised his attainments by bestowing upon him the degree of LL.D.


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