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William Finnie

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William Finnie (c1873-1935)


1935 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM FINNIE was for many years connected with Messrs. Howarth, Erskine, Ltd., engineers, of Singapore, and later also took charge of the firm's various branches.

He was a native of Aberdeen, and. received his technical education at Robert Gordon's Technical College. In 1886 he was articled to Mr. T. Finnie, architect, but afterwards turned to mechanical engineering and served an apprenticeship with Messrs. Barry, Henry and Company, Ltd.

He became general assistant and draughtsman to Mr. William Jackson, M.I.Mech.E., at Aberdeen, in connexion with Messrs. Marshall, Sons and Company, Ltd., of Gainsborough, and later, after a brief period as acting works manager to Messrs. Marshall, he was appointed works manager.

In 1898 he left for Singapore as chief draughtsman and consulting engineer to Messrs. Howarth, Erskine, and in 1901 was promoted to be assistant to the managing director. He was appointed works manager in the following year and general manager in 1903. The firm manufactured all kinds of land and marine engines and boilers, steam launches, structural steelwork, and mining and other industrial machinery; branches were established in the Federated Malay States, Burma, Siam, and China. Some years later Mr. Finnie was made a director.

On the firm's subsequent amalgamation with Messrs. Riley, Hargreaves and Company, Ltd., to form Messrs. United Engineers, Ltd., he was appointed manager. He was responsible for the designs of the Government yachts for Straits Settlements, the Federated Malay States, and Siam, and for the erection of a new wharf for the Peninsular and Oriental Steamship Company at Singapore; in Siam he designed various bridges and superintended the erection of the new royal palace. Perhaps his most important work was the laying down of the water supply for Bangkok.

In 1920 he retired from the East and joined Messrs. A. and J. Webster, Ltd., of Peterhead, as manager. He designed and superintended the building of Messrs. Crosse and Blackwell's branch factory, and the new Peterhead electric power station. Latterly he confined his attention to agricultural work.

Mr. Finnie was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1902 and was transferred to Membership in 1905.

His death occurred on 14th January 1935, in his sixty-third year.


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