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British Industrial History

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Robert Brunton

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Robert Brunton (1796-1852)

1796 March 23rd. Born at Dalkeith the son of Robert Brunton and Anne Grieve. He was the brother of William Brunton and John Brunton

1842 Robert Brunton of 18 Kings Arms Yard, Coleman Street, and Porto Nuvo Iron Works, Madras, became a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.[1]

1853 Obituary [2]

Robert Brunton was born at Lochwinnoch, North Britain, on the 10th of February 1796, and at fourteen years of age was received as a clerk in the cotton mills, at that place; but when, in 1812, those works were destroyed by fire, he went to Belfast, and on the introduction of his brother, Mr. John Brunton, C.E., was engaged at the foundry of Chain and Young, whence he transferred his services to Claude Girdwood and Co, Glasgow, where he compiled his 'Compendium of Mechanics,' a valuable text-book for Engineers, and one of the first of a most useful class of publications for practical men; in the latter years of his life he devoted some time to the preparation of a new edition of this work, which it is hoped may soon be published.

About the year 1823 he arrived in London, and acted for some time as chief assistant and draughtsman to his brother, the late William Brunton, C.E., but on the removal of that gentleman to South Wales, he was engaged by Banks and Co (of Bilston), Staffordshire, in whose works he obtained the first insight into the manufacture of iron, in all its branches.

He then became the principal assistant of Isaac Dodds, (M.Inst.C.E.) at the Horseley Ironworks, Staffordshire, and aided in perfecting several of his ingenious mechanical inventions and improvements.

Then he entered the service of the Indian Iron Company and, as their chief Engineer, constructed and managed the works at Porto Novo, on the coast of Coromandel, East Indies.

His reports on the manufacture of iron and steel in India, and the observations recorded during his journeys in France, Spain, Germany, Norway and Denmark, are full of information, and demonstrate the talent for observation which was one of the distinguishing features of his character.

The failure of his health obliged him to return to England, but his connexion with the Indian Iron Company, continued at intervals, until the period of his decease, which occurred at the Maesteg Ironworks, Glamorganshire, of which he was the acting Engineer.

Mr. Brunton joined the Institution, as a Member, in the year 1842, and during his residence in London was a very constant attendant at the meetings, taking an active part in the discussions. He was a man of great quickness of perception, possessed a considerable fund of theoretical and practical information, and had profited by the opportunities he had enjoyed of gaining experience. He was a kind-hearted, amiable person, with an amenity of manner which won the confidence of all with whom he was brought into contact, and his decease on the 6th of July 1852, in his fifty-sixth year, caused a void in a social circle, where his remembrance will long be cherished.

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