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John Imray

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John Imray (1820-1902)

1869 Patent. '2171. To John Imray and George Gatton Melhuish Hardingham, both of 28, Great George-street, Westminster, in the county of Middlesex, Engineers, for the invention of "improvements in sewing machines."'[1]


1902 Obituary [2]

JOHN IMRAY was the son of the Rev. John Imray, of Longside, Aberdeenshire, and was born at Peterhead on 12th August 1820.

He received his first education at the village school of Longside, and when thirteen years of age proceeded to Aberdeen to attend the Grammar School there, and was soon successful in obtaining a scholarship at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he gained the mathematical scholarship and subsequently his degree of M.A.

In 1837 he proceeded to London, and succeeded in obtaining an entry into the firm of Messrs. Maudslay, Sons and Field as a pupil, commencing work there in May 1838. Whilst with this firm be assisted Mr. Field in preparing the drawings for the arrangement of a marine-engine known as the double-cylinder engine, which was considered a great advance at that time.

During the latter part of his time with Messrs. Maudslay he was employed in his leisure hours by Dr. Reid in preparing drawings for the warming and ventilating of the new Houses of Parliament, &c. At the expiration of his apprenticeship at Messrs. Maudslay's, in May 1842, he left that firm and began work in the Ventilation Office of the new Houses of Parliament, where he remained until 1850, assisting Dr. Reid in most of his work and being specially engaged in arranging the ventilating apparatus in the royal yacht called the "Royal George," and also in preparing the rooms of Buckingham Palace for the great Balls, and the Opera House for the late Queen's State visits.

About the end of the year 1845 matters were at a standstill at the new Houses of Parliament, as the architect and ventilator could not agree; and Mr. Imray, having a considerable amount of spare time on his hands, was employed to a large extent in making surveys for railways during the railway mania of that period. He took levels for a line of railway in Essex and for the line between Rugby and Manchester, often having great difficulty in carrying out his investigations owing to the strong opposition met with in many country places.

In 1850 he joined Mr. Arthur Collinge in partnership in an engineering business at Lambeth, and during 1834 constructed a large number of engines for Messrs. Maudslay and Messrs. Penn for war vessels and gunboats required at that time.

In 1857 he purchased his partner's interest in the business, carrying it on on his own account until 1867.

In the 1862 Exhibition he exhibited several steam-engines and also a steam-hammer which he bad invented.

In 1864 he commenced to act professionally as adviser and expert in law cases connected with patents and machinery, and about this time he wrote a treatise on practical mechanics and the steam-engine, which formed part of Orr's circle of the Sciences.

In 1867 he gave up his engineering business at Lambeth, and started as consulting engineer and patent agent in Great George Street, Westminster, and was then employed to repair the Lambeth Suspension Bridge.

He also gave certain suggestions to Mr. W. H. Barlow in designing the great St. Pancras Station.

In conjunction with Mr. H. Richardson he prepared plans for a canal to bring a supply of sea water to London and for the formation of a light overhead railway from Islington to the City. For some time he took the leading part in an Institute called The Inventor's Institute, and acted as editor of the "Scientific Review."

In 1871 he joined Mr. Abel (brother of the late Sir Frederick Abel, Bart.) in partnership as consulting' engineer, and patent agents, in which business he took a very active part until a fortnight before his death. He contributed a Paper to this Institution in 1874 (page 281) on a Helical Pump, which had been evolved as the result of experiments with Mr. Matthew Boulton in 1867.

For many years he was employed as an expert in most cases of patent litigation, and among the principal cases may be mentioned the Telephone actions, the Otto gas-engine actions, the Westinghouse brake actions, railway signalling actions, and the Welsbach gas lighting actions.

In 1882 the Institute of Patent Agents was formed, when he was elected Vice-President and in the succeeding year was elected President, devoting a considerable time to the successful formation of this Institute and the obtaining of its Royal Charter. He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and of the Royal Institution.

He took a keen interest in local affairs, and for six years occupied a seat on the Finchley Local Board, and gave considerable professional aid in the very extensive works for the sewerage of that parish. When the County Council Act came into force, he was elected by a considerable majority as one of the two representatives of Finchley for the first County Council of Middlesex, and was returned for the second County Council without opposition. When the Borough Council came into force, he was returned as one of the first members of the Borough Council for Holborn.

His death took place at his residence in Mecklenburgh Square, London, on 29th September 1902, at the age of eighty-two.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1877.


1903 Obituary [3]

JOHN IMRAY, son of the Rev. John Imray, of Longside, Aberdeenshire, was born at Peterhead on the 12th August, 1820.

He was educated at the village school of Longside, at Aberdeen Grammar School, and at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he obtained a mathematical scholarship and subsequently graduated M.A.

In 1837 he proceeded to London, and in May, 1838, succeeded in obtaining an entry into the firm of Maudslay, Sons and Field as a pupil. While there he assisted Mr. Field in preparing the drawings for the arrangement of a marine engine known as the double-cylinder engine, which was considered a great advance at that time.

In his leisure hours he assisted Dr. Reid in preparing drawings for the warming and ventilating of the new Houses of Parliament, and on the expiration of his apprenticeship in May, 1842, he was permanently engaged in the Ventilation Office of the Houses, where he remained until 1850.

In addition to assisting Dr. Reid during that period he was specially engaged in arranging the ventilating apparatus in the Royal Yacht called the 'Royal George,' and in preparing the rooms of Buckingham Palace for balls, and the Opera House for the state visits of Queen Victoria.

About the end of the year 1845 Mr. Imray, having a considerable amount of spare time on his hands, was employed to a large extent in making surveys for railways during the railway mania of that period. He took levels for a line in Essex and for the line between Rugby and Manchester, and was often obliged to have recourse to tricks and subterfuges of all kinds in order to carry out his work in face of the strong opposition met with in many country districts.

In 1850 he joined Arthur Collinge in partnership in an engineering business at Lambeth, and during 1854 constructed for. Messrs. Maudslay and Messrs. Penn a large number of engines for war-vessels and gunboats.

In 1857 he bought out Mr. Collinge and continued the business alone. In the 1862 Exhibition he exhibited a steam-hammer which he had invented. In 1864 he commenced to act as an expert witness and Patent Agent, and about that time he wrote a treatise on practical mechanics and the steam-engine which formed part of Orr’s 'Circle of the Sciences.'

In 1867 Mr. Imray gave up his engineering business at Lambeth, and started as Consulting Engineer and Patent Agent in Great George Street, Westminster. He was interested in several engineering schemes of considerable magnitude, for some time took a prominent part in the Inventors’ Institute, and acted as editor of the Scientific Review.

In the year 1871 he joined C. D. Abel, brother of the late Sir Frederick Abel, in partnership as Consulting Engineers and Patent Agents, in which business he took a very active part until shortly before his death.

For many years he was employed as an expert in cases of patent litigation, among which may be mentioned the Telephone actions, the Otto gas-engine actions, the Westinghouse-brake actions, Railway-signalling actions and the Welsbach gas-lighting actions.

On the formation of the Institute of Patent Agents in 1882 he was elected Vice- President and in the succeeding year President. He was also a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and of the Royal Institution.

He took a keen interest in local affairs, and for six years occupied a seat at the Finchley Local Board, and gave considerable professional aid in the extensive works for the sewerage of that parish.

Subsequently he was elected one of the two representatives of Finchley on the first County Council of Middlesex. When the borough councils came into existence he was returned as one of the first members of the Borough Council for Holborn.

Mr. Imray died on the 29th September, 1902, at his residence, 43 Mecklenburgh Square, in his eighty-third year.

He was elected a Member of this Institution on the 7th March, 1871, and for many years was a constant attendant at the meetings, frequently taking part in the discussions.

In 1885 he contributed to the Proceedings a valuable Paper on 'High-speed Motors,' which was discussed in conjunction with Mr. Kapp’s Paper on 'Modern Continuous-current Dynamo-electric-machines and their Engines.'


1902 Obituary [4][5]



1902 Obituary [6]



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