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British Industrial History

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Thomas Forth Rotheram

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Thomas Forth Rotheram (1850-1903)

1850 Born the son of John Wilkinson Rotheram

1875 January 13th. Married Louisa Worby

1904 Obituary [1]

THOMAS FORTH ROTHERAM, Chief Mechanical Engineer to the Western Australian Government Railways Department, died suddenly, from angina pectoris, at his residence, Mount Street, Perth, Western Australia on the 11th September, 1903.

Born in England, at York, on the 28th June, 1850, he obtained his early engineering training in the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway works at Gorton, and subsequently in the shops of the North British Railway at Cowlairs, Glasgow.

With the approval of the officials of the latter line he afterwards took a position with the London and Glasgow Shipbuilding Company, for the purpose of gaining experience in the fitting and completion of the engines and boilers of large ocean steamers.

He then returned to the North British Railway, and was appointed to take charge of the erection of indoor and outdoor machinery and plant. Subsequently he was engaged for three years with Messrs. Ransomes and Rapier, in the design and manufacture of fixed plant for railways in various parts of the world.

Early in 1875 Mr. Rotheram entered the service of the New Zealand Government Railways, in which Department he occupied the following positions :-General Manager of the Picton and Blenheim Railway (1875-78) ; General Manager of the Wanganui, Foxton and New Plymouth Railway (1878-86); Locomotive Superintendent of the Hurunui-Bluff Railway (1885-88) ; and Locomotive Superintendent of the New Zealand Railways from 1888 to April, 1900, when he accepted the appointment of Chief Mechanical Engineer to the Western Australian Railways. While in the service of the New Zealand Government he introduced the complete manufacture in the railway workshops of many locomotives and other rolling-stock required.

In 1887, while still connected with the New Zealand railway service, he was specially appointed by the New South Wales Government to report on the railways and tramways of that colony.

In 1891 he was appointed by the New South Wales Railway Commissioners to inquire into the merits of the Westinghouse and vacuum brakes as applied to goods trains.

In 1893, under instructions from the New Zealand Railway Commissioners, he visited America and Europe to make a personal examination of the working of compound locomotives, and to inquire into the feasibility of placing electric motors on a portion of the New Zealand Railways, and generally into questions affecting electric welding, locomotives, machinery and lighting.

Mr. Rotheram was elected a Member of the Institution on the 12th January, 1886.

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