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British Industrial History

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Arthur Spyer

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Arthur Spyer (1856-1938)

1938 Obituary [1]

ARTHUR SPYER, who was concerned during his long career with several notable developments in marine engineering, was formerly general manager of Messrs. Babcock and Wilcox, Ltd. He was born in London and educated at University College School and at the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, where he was the first English student to gain the professional diploma in marine engineering. In 1871 he entered Messrs. Earle's Shipbuilding and Engineering Works, at Hull, where he served a two years' pupilage under Sir Edward Reed, afterwards entering H.M. Dockyard, Portsmouth, as a pupil, and serving for a further three years.

He then became Sir Edward Reed's assistant overseer on the construction of marine and other machinery. In 1878 he went to sea as engineer in charge of machinery, under Captain J. W. Webb, R.N.; subsequently he became a draughtsman under Sir J. Fortescue Flannery, Hon. M.I.Mech.E. By his success in an open competitive examination in the following year he was appointed to the department of the engineer-in-chief at the Admiralty. He held successively the positions of engineer draughtsman, chief draughtsman, and assistant engineer under Sir James Wright and Mr. R. Sennett.

From 1894 to 1902 he acted as engineer inspector at the Admiralty under Sir John Durston, and took charge of the design, construction, and maintenance of naval machinery. During this period the water-tube boiler became an accepted form of steam generator for marine purposes, and Mr. Spyer resigned his Admiralty appointment to join Messrs. Babcock and Wilcox as chief of the marine department. He also acted as assistant to the managing director, Sir James Kemnal. When Sir James died in 1927 Mr. Spyer was appointed general manager of the firm, and held this position until his retirement in 1930.

He remained a director of several of the European companies associated with Messrs. Babcock and Wilcox, and his abilities as a linguist were of considerable value in this connexion. In addition he maintained an active interest in scientific research until the end of his life, and was himself a research worker. He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1920, and was a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and the Institution of Naval Architects. His death occurred in London on 4th January 1938, in his eighty-second year.

1938 Obituary [2]

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