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British Industrial History

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William Jones (c.1777-1821)

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William Jones (c.1777-1821). Came to be known as William 'Guru' Jones

An excellent account of 'Guru' Jones's life and work in India, by Amitabha Ghosh, is available online[1]. Jones arrived in India in 1800, and became the first 'private' engineer in the age of steam in India (private in the sense that he was not employed by the East India Company or any other company, and became an engineering manufacturer in his own right at a time when most engineering production was undertaken by British-based firms). He implemented the use of steam power for Calcutta's water supply and for the Srirampur Paper Mill. He was the first to organise the deep mining of pit coal in India. He immersed himself in local culture and spoke the local languages, and taught and trained Indian workers, earning him the title 'guru'. He was also prominent as an architect and builder.

'A shadowy mystery clings to the memory of Guru Jones, and suggests that he was the lost heir to an Irish dukedom. The story goes that, the youngest son of the late duke, he left his home through family quarrels, and sought his fortune in India ......'. He died of sunstroke on 23 September 1821, while engaged in the construction of Bishop's College, Shibpur, for which he was the architect.[2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. [1] Guru Jones - A Private Engineer in the Colonial Trap' by Amitabha Ghosh, Indian Journal of History of Science, 32(2), 1997
  2. [2] 'Calcutta Past & Present' by Kathleen Blechynden, W. Thacker, 1905