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Thomas Frame Thomson

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Thomas Frame Thomson (1867-1913), authority on Argentina


1914 Obituary [1]

THOMAS FRAME THOMSON died, as the result of an accident, at his residence, Caen Wood Towers, Highgate, on the 30th September, 1913, aged 46 years. By the accidental discharge of a sporting gun, from which he had intended to extract the cartridges before leaving home for South America, he was found shot through the heart in his dressing-room, a career full of solid and varied achievement and of still more brilliant promise being thus brought to an untimely close.

Born on the 19th May, 1867, he was educated at Kelvinside Academy, Glasgow, and Herbertshire Castle, Stirlingshire.

At the age of 17 he became a pupil of Mr. John Strain, Vice-President Inst. C.E., whom he afterwards served as an engineering assistant.

From 1888 to 1891 he acted first as Resident Engineer on the Lanarkshire and Ayrshire Railway and subsequently as Engineer, ably defending the company, at the early age of 23, in actions brought by the contractors in relation to the works.

From 1890 to 1895, as a partner in the firm of Strain, Robertson and Thomson, Civil Engineers, of Glasgow and Westminster, he had charge of the London interests of the firm. Retiring from the firm in the latter year, he was occupied until February, 1896, in studying the construction and working of the railways of Argentina, an investigation which he carried out with characteristic ability and thoroughness.

He then engaged in consulting practice in the City of London, amongst other important business visiting South Africa to study transport facilities and water-power for the development of white marble quarries, and South America to report on an extensive railway and port project, of which he became consulting engineer. He was a director of many important electric light, power, tramway, and other undertakings in Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil, and Chairman of the Otis Steel Company, of Cleveland, Ohio. His extensive financial interests led him to recognize the importance to engineers of legal and commercial knowledge, the successful use of which was so ably exemplified in his own career.

As evidence of the warm interest which he always felt in the welfare of young engineers, Students of The Institution, an interest maintained from his own student days in Glasgow until his death, he founded in 1910 a series of lectures to be delivered annually to the Students in London during his lifetime. The first three lectures on “The Commercial and Technical Relations of Engineering Design and Work,” “The Principles and Practice of Accountancy,” and “Law in Relation to Engineering,” he prepared and delivered himself with the thoroughness and clearness of exposition which distinguished all his work, and he had already requested Mr. A. A. Hudson, K.C., to give the fourth lecture on “Contracts ” (subsequently delivered), when death cut short his career. Copies of the three lectures were distributed by him to all Students of The Institution and to many others. Acting in accordance with what would undoubtedly have been his wish, his widow afterwards presented his engineering instruments to London Students who had been associated with him, and a collection of engineering books to the Glasgow Association of Students, to which he had been attached in earlier life. He took part in various discussions at The Institution, and was preparing, at the time of his regretted death, a comprehensive account of the Buenos Aires tramway undertaking.

Mr. Thomson was elected an Associate Member of The Institution on the 16th May, 1893, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 22nd February, 1898.


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