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John Arthur Aiton

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Sir John Arthur Aiton (1864-1950)


1950 Obituary [1]

"IT is with deep regret that we have to record the death of Sir John Arthur Aiton, which occurred at his home, Duffield Park, Duffield, Derbyshire, on Tuesday, January 24th, at the age of eighty-five. Sir John was the governing director of Aiton and Co., Ltd., of Stores Road, Derby, and was a leading figure in that city for more than forty years.

He was born at Nagpur in the Central Province of India in 1864. He came home for his education, which was continued at the Bridge of Allan in Scotland and in London. He was apprenticed in 1882 to J. and G. Thompson, of Clydebank, the forerunners of John Brown and Co., Ltd., and he also spent some time with Hutson and Corbett, of Glasgow. During that period he studied in arts and science classes at Glasgow.

In 1887 he went out to Rangoon as a ship's engineer with the Irrawaddy Flotilla Co, where he stayed for three years. On his return to Scotland he was with Denny Brothers, of Dumbarton, for some time and then went out from 1892 to 1894 to Peru where he was engaged on shipbuilding works for the Peruvian Corporation. In 1894 he returned to Dennys and after a short time with Siemens Brothers, Ltd., he established his own business in London, at 23, Laurence Poultney Lane, E .C. He began as a partner in a firm of consulting marine engineers and surveyors... Read more"


1950 Obituary [2]

"Sir JOHN ARTHUR AITON, C.B.E., was born in Nagpur, India, in 1864, and was educated at Bridge of Allan, near Stirling, Scotland. He served his engineering apprenticeship with James and George Thomson, Ltd., Clydebank, engineers and shipbuilders, who later became the famous John Brown and Company, Ltd. After a short period with Hutson and Son, marine engine builders, the urge to travel, which was always evident in Sir Arthur Aiton's life, took him in 1887 to Burma, where for three years he served as engineer with the Irrawady Flotilla Co. Shortly after, he was commissioned by Dennys of Dumbarton to assemble a lake steamer on Lake Titicaca, 14,000 feet above sea level in the Andes.

He returned to England in 1894, and the following year entered into partnership with his cousin Lester Clark as marine surveyors and consulting engineers. After five years this partnership dissolved, and on 1st January 1900 Sir Arthur Aiton created the firm of Aiton and Co, pipework engineers. The original works were at Willesden, but business expanded to such an extent that in 1907 it was necessary to move to Derby, where the works are still situated. Even from the early days of the firm, pipes were exported to all parts of the world. In 1923, Sir Arthur paid a visit to Warsaw where he took over the patent rights of the corrugated pipe, intended to absorb temperature expansion in steam pipes. The development of this pipe at the Derby works revolutionized pipework expansion problems, and practically superseded the old sleeve expansion joint for both land and marine installations.

As one of the pioneers of electric welding for pipework, Sir Arthur developed this method of construction through the years, and the firm also acquired in 1937 the assets of a French firm producing feed-water evaporator distillers, with whom they had been associated for many years. These were improved and developed and now form an important part of Aiton and Company's production.

During the 1914-18 war, Sir Arthur Aiton was chairman of the Derbyshire Munitions Committee, and for his services was awarded the C.B.E.

Although Sir Arthur's principal interest was the expansion of the progressive company that bears his name, his alert mind and energetic nature enabled him to follow several other pursuits with equal interest. He was, for example, the outstanding member for many years of the Derby and Derbyshire Chamber of Commerce, being elected its President from 1918 to 1921 and again in 1932, 1933, and 1940—a unique record. He also represented the Derby Chamber of Commerce on the Federation of Chambers of Commerce of the British Empire from 1921 and was chairman in 1940.

He was a prominent member of the Council of the British Chamber of Commerce. When the International Chamber of Commerce was formed in Paris in 1920, he was one of the British representatives.

He was also a Justice of the Peace for Derbyshire, and for many years was a notable figure in local politics, holding the office of chairman of the Derby Conservative and Unionist Association from 1925 to 1944.

His services to his town and country were recognized by the honour of a Knighthood in 1937, which was in the first list of Honours conferred by the present King.

Sir Arthur Aiton had the satisfaction of seeing, on 1st January 1950, the firm that he had founded achieve its Jubilee. Some three weeks later he died at his home near Derby, at the age of eighty-five. He had been a Member of the Institution since 1900."

E. G. Boissier.


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