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British Industrial History

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John Smith (1874-1926)

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1926.

John Smith (c1874-1926), general manager and a director of Thornycroft, Woolston Works, Southampton.

c1874 Born

1889 He passed from school at Greenwich (where he had attracted the attention of Sir William Niven, who was then Director of Studies at the Royal Naval College) to Portsmouth Dockyard as an apprentice shipwright.

1893 He was one of two apprentices selected by Sir William Niven for twelve months' training at the Royal Naval College at Keyham.

1897 Finished his three year course at Royal Naval College at Greenwich.

1898 Entered the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors and went to sea for twelve months in the battleship Majestic when she was the flagship for the old Channel Fleet.

1899 Appointed to the Admiralty where he served for several years on the staff of the Director of Naval Construction.

1904 Appointed as an Instructor in Naval Architecture at the Royal Naval College at Greenwich where he remained in the capacities of junior and senior Instructor until 1907.

He then returned to the Admiralty and was put in charge of the light cruiser design section.

Between 1907 and 1910 he continued to give lectures in naval architecture in Greenwich and from 1908 to 1910 he was a lecturer on 'Stability' to the senior officers attending the War College at Portsmouth.

1911 In early January, Mr Smith was appointed Clyde Admiralty Overseer to supervise the building of battleships, during this year he was associated with the building of the battleship HMS Ajax at the Greenock yard of Scotts Shipbuilding and Engineering Co. However in October 1911, he resigned and accepted a post with J. Samuel White and Co.

1915 Appointed managing Director of J. Samuel White and Co.

1919 Resigned his position with J. Samuel White and Co and was appointed general manager and director of the Woolston Works of Thornycroft.

1926 July 13th. Died at Southampton following an operation for appendicitis.

Memberships

  • Prominent member of the Institution of Naval Architects and served on the Council.
  • He was a member of the Southampton Harbour Board and Southampton Chamber of Commerce.
  • He was also the president of the South Coast Engineering and Shipbuilding Employers' Association.
  • A director of the Isle of Wight Steam Packet Co.
  • President of the Engineering Society of the University College of Southampton.
  • A member of the Technological Education Committee
  • Made a Justice of the Peace for the County Borough of Southampton.

1926 Obituary[1]

'The severe loss which has been sustained by Thornycroft in the death of Mr John Smith, general manager and director of the firm's Woolston Works, Southampton, will be fully shared by the large circle of naval architects, shipbuilders and marine engineers whom Mr Smith numbered among his personal friends. He died at Southampton on Tuesday morning last, following an operation for appendicitis, and was only fifty-two years of age........

He had a keen interest in sport, more especially where his employees were concerned, and he himself was an able yachtsman. Another interest, however, which perhaps formed his principal relaxation was the study of antiquarian and archaeological subjects, in which he was locally assisted by his membership of the Hampshire Field Club.

Mr Smith possessed a singular charm of personality and his death is a great loss, not alone to his employers, but also to a wide circle of professional and private friends.


1926 Obituary [2]

JOHN SMITH, General Manager and Director of John I. Thornycroft & Co., Ltd., died at Southampton on July 20, 1926, following an operation for appendicitis.

Mr. Smith, who was in his fifty-third year, was trained at the Dockyard Schools, Portsmouth, and went to the Royal Naval Engineering College, Keyham, for one year in 1893, completing three years subsequently at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich.

He entered the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors in 1897, and after a year's sea experience on the Majestic went to Whitehall on the staff of the Director of Naval Construction, becoming private secretary successively to Sir William White and to Sir Philip Watts.

He was instructor in Naval Architecture at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, from 1903 to 1906; and for four years subsequently, while in charge of the light cruiser design section at the Admiralty, he lectured in naval architecture at Greenwich.

After a year as Admiralty overseer on the Clyde, he accepted an appointment with J. Samuel White & Co., Ltd., Cowes, and was Managing Director from 1915 until 1919, when he left to become General Manager and Director at Thornycroft's Woolston shipyard.

Mr. Smith took a keen interest in the technical side of his calling, and read papers before the British Association and the Institution of Naval Architects, of which latter body he was a Member and a Member of Council. He was President of the South-East Coast Engineering and Shipbuilding Employers' Association, and was a member of the Conference and Works Board of the Shipbuilding Employers' Federation.

During the war he was a member of the Naval Architects' Committee on Lord Fisher's Board of Inventions and Research. He was always a keen educationist and a strong believer in the value of continued education after entry into apprenticeship or industrial life. He established a special welfare department for youths in the Woolston yard, for which was built a fine Institute for Thornycroft apprentices and boys on the firm's Silvermere estate. Despite the tremendous amount of work he did to further the great interests of his own firm and employees, Mr. Smith found time to have numerous interests in the more or less public life of Southampton. Ever since he was connected with the town he had always been a firm believer in the ultimate greatness of Southampton as a shipbuilding and shipping centre, and much of his work was towards the attainment of this end.

He was a Director of the Isle of Wight Steam Packet Company, a member of the Southampton Harbour Board, and was also on the Works Committee of that body, and he was a member of the Southampton Chamber of Commerce. He had been President of the Engineering Society of the University College of Southampton, a member of the Technological Education Committee, and was a member of the Southampton Rotary Club. He had lately been made a J.P. for the County Borough of Southampton.

In the world of sport Mr. Smith took a very keen and active interest, especially where his own employees were concerned. He was no mean yachtsman, sailed his own boat, and was a member of the Southampton Yacht Club. He was also a member of the Hants County Cricket Club. His principal relaxation, however, consisted of a lively interest in antiquarian and archaeological matters, for the better pursuit of which he was a member of the Hampshire Field Club.

Mr. Smith was elected a Member of the Institute on September 10, 1914.


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