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Frederick Leslie

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Frederick Leslie (1828-1889)

1889 Obituary [1]

FREDERICK LESLIE, son of Mr. John Leslie, the inventor of the tubulated gas-burner, and a brother of Mr. Henry Leslie, well known in the musical world, was born in the year 1828.

He studied in the Applied Sciences Department of King's College, London, with a view to entering the profession of gas engineering, and then served a pupilage to the Engineer of the Equitable Gas Company.

He was next, for four years and a half, at the works of the Bristol United Gas-light Company, having charge of one of the stations as assistant to the engineer. He was also concerned in the reconstruction of the works, including the erection of two large tanks, gas-holders, gas-governors, steam-engines, &c.

He afterwards accepted an engagement as gas engineer to the Corporation of Stockport, where he remained for four years, and for one year as Chief Engineer of the Crystal Palace District Gas Company.

Early in 1866 Mr. Leslie was appointed Chief Engineer to the City of Moscow Gas Company, and thereafter his career was mainly confined to Russia. The Moscow company was an English enterprise, and Mr. Leslie was appointed to superintend the erection of the extensive works, plant and machinery, and the piping of the city. Mr. Leslie exhibited great skill and ability in coping with the difficulties which from time to time cropped up, especially those of manufacture and distribution, caused by the extreme severity of the climate during six months of winter, when the thermometer sometimes registers - 60" Fahrenheit.

One autumn, during the period of Mr. Leslie's management, a large wooden bridge over the River Msta, on the Nicholas Railway, then forming the only railway between Moscow and the port of St. Petersburg, was destroyed by fire. Only a very small portion of the annual coal-supply had been trucked from St. Petersburg, and no more could be obtained, the coal-fields of South Russia not having then been opened up. The stock of coal at the gas-works became exhausted, whereupon Mr. Leslie, as a temporary measure, at once adapted the plant originally designed for distilling coal for the manufacture of gas, and for many months successfully lighted the city with gas made from wood. Silver birch was the principal material ; but, in fact, any other substance which could be practically employed was used, petroleum and petroleum refuse being used as an enriching material.

As an administrator Mr. Leslie was minutely careful and accurate, and it is solely due to his ability, energy, tact and judgment, that the City of Moscow Gas Company was able to tide over the first years of its existence, and that the property at Moscow was extricated from the perilous position in which the onerous conditions of the Company’s concession had placed it.

In 1881 the enterprise, which had then become the Moscow Metropolitan Gas Company, was sold to a French Company, and Mr. Leslie returned to England. He embarked in a private business relating to heating, ventilating, and sanitary matters, but after a few years relinquished it with heavy loss. He then invented a system of ventilation which was adopted in one or more of the London theatres, and also introduced some considerable improvements in the tubular gas-burner first devised by his father. He was engaged in working these patents when he died, on the 20th of February, 1889.

Mr. Leslie was a strict disciplinarian, but he was always kind, just and considerate to those about him and under his command. For these characteristics his name was almost proverbial in both the old and the new Russian capitals, and he was respected alike by his friends and his adversaries, including some of the most highly and influentially placed in the administrative circles of the Russian Empire. In July 1873 he was appointed British Vice Consul at Moscow (unpaid), and retained the appointment until he left the country in July 1881, acting under Her Majesty’s Consul at St. Petersburg.

Mr. Leslie was elected an Associate of the Institution on the 3rd of May, 1864, and was

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