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British Industrial History

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Frederick George Wright

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Frederick George Wright (1862-1938) of the Great Western Railway

1862 Born the son of Thomas Houghton Wright

1938 Obituary [1]

Major FREDERICK GEORGE WRIGHT, after a lengthy and very active career on the Great Western Railway, became vice-chairman of the Swindon United Gas Company, of which he had been a director since 1901, with the exception of the War period. In 1927 he was appointed managing director of the company and during the next ten years he assumed the chairmanship of several other gas companies in Wiltshire. He was actively connected with the National Associations of the gas industry, serving on various committees, and was also vice-chairman of the South Western Tar Distilleries.

He was born in 1862 and served his apprenticeship from 1876 to 1883 in the Great Western Railway works at Gloucester, Bristol, and Swindon. Subsequently he became a locomotive draughtsman at Swindon, and in 1892 he was appointed chief draughtsman. He was responsible for much of the design work in connection with many celebrated locomotive types, including the 4-2-2 engines with 7 ft. 8 in. driving wheels, which replaced the broad-gauge engines after the conversion to standard gauge.

In 1896 he became assistant manager of the locomotive works at Swindon, and in 1903 he was appointed chief assistant to the chief mechanical engineer. Some of his most important work was the standardizing of engine running sheds, and he was responsible for the design of the remarkable locomotive depot at Old Oak Common. He also designed over twenty new engine depots, and devoted much attention to the crane equipment and the hydraulic plant of the company. In addition he was concerned with the hydraulic installation at King's Dock, Swansea, and with the water supplies throughout the system.

Major Wright was keenly interested in the Territorial Army and as a result of his efforts the Fortress Company of the Royal Engineers was raised at Swindon. He was actively interested, also, in municipal affairs in Swindon, and was the third mayor of the borough. During his retirement he was called in as an expert witness in connexion with the trial of a driver after a fatal railway accident, and the defendant's acquittal was undoubtedly due in some measure to the evidence presented by Major Wright.

On 7th April 1938, Major Wright's death occurred at his home in Swindon. He had been a Member of the Institution since 1897.

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