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Robert Cowan Macdonald (c1875-1955), Chief Mechanical Engineer of the South Metropolitan Gas Co
1955 Obituary 
WE have learned with regret of the death of Mr. Robert C. Macdonald, which occurred recently, at the age of eighty-one, at Melrose. For many years, until his retirement in 1934, he was chief mechanical engineer of the South Metropolitan Gas Company.
Mr. Macdonald served his apprenticeship with Sir William Arrol and Co., Ltd., of Glasgow, and on its completion he continued with the firm in the department of the drawing-office dealing with coal-handling plant and hydraulic stoking apparatus.
From 1901 he spent a period as assistant manager at the Glasgow tube works of John Marshall and Sons, returning to Messrs. Arrol as resident agent in 1903. The works on which Mr. Macdonald was engaged then included the erection of the Queen Alexandra Bridge at Sunderland, the Transporter Bridge over the River Tees at Middlesbrough, and the widening of Blackfriars Bridge.
In 1914 he became works manager to Sir William Arrol and Co., Ltd., a position which he occupied until 1916, when he was appointed the chief mechanical engineer of the South Metropolitan Gas Company. During his eighteen years of service with that company Mr. Macdonald was responsible for the rebuilding of the large gasholder at Silvertown, following its collapse after an explosion in 1917; the reconstruction of the company's Greenwich workshops, and the modernisation of the whole of the company's equipment to meet the engineering demands of modern gasworks practice.
Mr. Macdonald was a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. He was also, at one time, vice-chairman of the Commercial Motor Users' Association, and was keenly interested in the work of the National "Safety First" Association. The earlier years of Mr. Macdonald's retirement were particularly active ones ; he not only travelled extensively, but during the second world war he returned to the service of the gas industry by becoming consulting engineer to the Severn Valley Gas Corporation.
1956 Obituary 
Robert Cowan Macdonald, whose death occurred on 24th September 1955, at the age of eighty-one, was for many years, until his retirement in 1934, Chief Mechanical Engineer, South Metropolitan Gas Co.
He served an apprenticeship with Sir William Arrol and Co., Ltd., Glasgow, and from 1901 spent a period as Assistant Manager at the Glasgow tube works of John Marshall and Sons, returning to the former firm as Resident Agent in 1903. His works included the Queen Alexandra Bridge, Sunderland, the transporter bridge over the river Tees, Middlesbrough, and the widening of Blackfriars Bridge.
In 1914 he became Works Manager to Sir William Arrol and Co., Ltd., a position which he occupied until 1916 when he was appointed Chief Mechanical Engineer, South Metropolitan Gas Co. During his eighteen years of service with that company his work included the rebuilding of the large gasholder at Silvertown. During the 1939-45 war he acted as Consulting Engineer to the Severn Valley Gas Corporation.
At one time he was Vice-Chairman of the Commercial Motor Users' Association.
He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1919, and he was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.
He rendered useful service as a member of the Committee of Management of the Benevolent Fund from 1930 to 1934.