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Thomas Bolton (1859-1937)

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Thomas Bolton (1859-1937), Chairman of Thomas Bolton and Sons

1937 Obituary [1]

THOMAS BOLTON, J.P., died at his residence, Blackhurst, Tunbridge Wells, on March 9, 1937, at the age of 78.

He was born at Oakamoor, Staffordshire, and as Chairman of Thomas Bolton and Sons, Ltd., represented a family which for many generations had been prominently connected with the copper and brass industry. His own firm was established in Birmingham in 1783, but in 1852 acquired the works at Oakamoor of the Cheadle Brass and Copper Company which itself had been founded in 1719.

Educated at Harrow and University College, London, and apprenticed to Kitsons of Leeds, he joined his family business at the age of 20 and played an active part in the erection of the Widnes works in 1881 and the Froghall works in 1890. His engineering and technical ability was clearly demonstrated also by his inventions of continuous wire-drawing machinery and other improvements in the rolling and drawing of metals, which have kept his company in the van of a highly competitive industry.

As Chairman and Managing Director of his company from 1909 until his death, his outstanding personality and the esteem which his character and power of leadership called forth were of great influence both on its internal and external affairs.

Mr. Bolton was not content to limit his powers to his private commercial interests, nor even to his hobbies, which were many. He always had in view the welfare and progress of industry, and was ready to devote his time and talents to movements which were concerned with these objectives. Thus, we find him amongst the earliest supporters of the Federation of British Industries, when it was formed in 1916; he was elected a Vice-President in 1924 and was Chairman of its Finance Committee for the last five of the 15 years of his service on it.

For the British Standards Institution he served as Chairman of the Non-Ferrous Metals Industry Committee and was most active in many other ways. He was also Chairman for over 20 years of the High-Conductivity Copper Association and was closely associated with the other Trade Associations which have played an important part in consolidating the interests and extending the influence of the copper and brass industries of this country. The recently formed Copper Development Association obviously secured his support and membership of its Council and Management Committee.

No record of Mr. Bolton's public services, however sketchy this must be, could fail to refer to his work for the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association, for he devoted himself whole-heartedly and continuously to its progress from 1918. He was Chairman of the Provisional Committee which established its plan and scope, and was its first and only Chairman of Council from its inauguration in December 1919 until his death. Largely due to his own gifts of leadership the B.N.F.M.R.A. has become a powerful organization, supported to an ever-growing extent by all throughout the whole non-ferrous field who realize the benefits which science can provide for the advancement of industry. The addresses which Mr. Bolton gave at the Annual Luncheons of the Association greatly stimulated the progress of the Association and exerted an influence for co-operation in industry even beyond its own field. The new plans for an extension of the Headquarters of the Association, which were approved at the last meeting of the Association's Council, which Mr. Bolton presided over, will form a tangible memorial of his period of office. The Bulletin of the B.N.F.M.R.A. for April 1937 published a more detailed record of his life, and appreciations from many who knew him.

Mr. Bolton was an Original Member of the Institute of Metals and always took a keen interest in its work. He served on the Council from 1923 to 1931 and was a Vice-President from 1926 to 1931. He was also a member of the Institute's Corrosion Research Committee and was instrumental in the formation of the Atmospheric Corrosion Research Committee. Had he so desired he could have assumed the highest office that the Institute has to offer. Few can have exerted so much influence on the non-ferrous metals industry nor have left such a fine example of courtesy and unselfish devotion. His loss will be deeply felt by all who had the privilege to come in contact with him. R. S. HUTTON.

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