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John Lum Stothert

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John Lum Stothert (1829-1891) of Stothert and Pitt and the Avonside Engine Co

1829 Born the son of Henry Stothert

1859 December 13th. Married at Mortlake, Surrey, to Lucy Kendall, daughter of Henry Kendall


1891 Obituary [1]

JOHN LUM STOTHERT was born on the 29th of June, 1829, at Bath. His father was Henry Stothert, then proprietor of the old Newark Foundry at Bath.

He received his education at private schools, and in 1845 was apprenticed to the firm of Stothert and Slaughter, at their locomotive works in Bristol, where, under Mr. Slaughter’s somewhat strict but admirable rule, he acquired a thorough mastery of handicraft, and laid the foundation of that sound practical knowledge for which he was distinguished in after life.

In 1844 Mr. Stothert’s father took into partnership his then managing engineer, Mr. Rayno, and also Mr. R. Pitt, who had served his apprenticeship at the works in Bath, the firm becoming Stothert, Rayno, and Pitt.

Eight years afterwards Mr. Henry Stothert withdrew from active participation in the business, and transferred his share to his son, and on the retirement of Mr. Rayno in 1855, through ill-health, the firm became Stothert and Pitt, and the business was carried on under that title by the two partners for the succeeding thirty years. During this long period of hard and active labour Mr. Stothert earned a prominent position amongst mechanical engineers by the soundness of his designs and the careful manner in which they were carried out, so that in general engineering, and especially in the department of lifting-machinery, the reputation of the firm became second to none.

The part Mr. Stothert took in the introduction of machinery for making and dealing with artificial blocks of concrete for the construction of breakwaters and harbours is in too recent recollection to require detailed description here, but it may be said that in this particular branch his experience was without parallel.

About the year 1883 his health, which up to that time had been apparently strong, showed signs of giving way, and his partner, R. Pitt, broke down a few months afterwards. This led to the formation of the present private company, Stothert and Pitt, Limited, of which Mr. Stothert remained chairman until his death, and was always ready with his counsel and experience although he retired from the active management.

Mr. Stothert was also for a time chairman of the Avonside Engine Co, Limited, the successors of the firm with whom he was brought up. He was a leading director of the Bath and Bristol Gas Companies, and also of other local companies, his energetic disposition never permitting him to be long without doing some useful work. Those who visited Bath during the British Association meeting in 1888, and who were in any way behind the scenes, will remember how admirably he filled the position of local secretary.

Mr. Stothert’s favourite relaxation was found in his small but extremely well-fitted observatory, where he occupied himself with practical astronomy, of which he was very fond. He had also a well-furnished private workshop. His health had been in a very unsatisfactory condition for some years, and he died somewhat suddenly, from heart disease, on March 5th, 1891, amid the general regret of a large circle of friends. His character and abilities were such that most of those who commenced his acquaintance by formal business relations remained for years his personal friends. As an engineer he possessed the true instinct of 'mechanical fitness,' and an adaptability of resource which enabled him to deal successfully with problems outside the range even of his large experience. His early training in the best traditions of the old millwright school gave him a love for honest work which made him regard scamping with utter abhorrence, and contributed not a little to the confidence with which his friends looked forward to the completion of whatever he took in hand.

Mr. Stothert was a Freemason, and held high office. He was a member of the Grand Lodge, and in this connection actively participated in the charitable work of the society.

He was elected a Member of the Institution on the 4th of March, 1879.


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