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British Industrial History

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Edward Charles Carnt

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Edward Charles Carnt (1858-1915) of J. Samuel White and Co

1915 Obituary [1]

EDWIN CHARLES CARNT was born on 24th May 1858.

His early career began in the Royal Navy; he entered Portsmouth Dockyard as an engineer student in 1873, passed through the Royal Naval College, Greenwich, in 1879, and commenced his services as assistant engineer the following year. He saw active service almost at once, being present at the bombardment of Alexandria, on board H.M.S. "Alexandra," and earning distinction for bravery and readiness of resource in the subsequent landing; for this he received the Khedive's medal and star.

After passing some years afloat in various ships, he acted as assistant engineer during the construction of the three vessels of the "Leander" class at Napier's, afterwards being appointed senior engineer to the "Leander"; he remained on board this vessel for some years on the China Station.

His energy and organizing abilities marked him out for a superior position, and he was appointed in 1889 overseer at the Naval Construction and Armament Works, Barrow-in-Furness, which position he held until 1892, when he became assistant to the Chief Engineer at Portsmouth Dockyard; there he took charge of the drawing office, and was intimately connected with the design and manufacture of machinery for the ships of the Royal Navy building at that period.

Four years later he was promoted to be engineering assistant to the Director of Dockyards at the Admiralty, with seniority of a staff engineer. About this time the works of Mr. John Samuel White at Cowes were entering the period when the rapid development of the size and power of torpedo boats necessitated some change in their manufacturing system. Mr. White had till then relied on outside firms for the construction of the propelling machinery of the hulls which he was building at East Cowes. He had already foreseen the increasing importance of torpedo craft, and of the larger type of ship — the torpedo-boat destroyer, which was destined to replace them.

Mr. Carnt was thereupon invited to join the firm in 1898 as manager of the engineering works. Here his organizing powers were given full scope, and the works were developed with astonishing rapidity and success. From manager of the engineering department he became sole managing director of the firm, Mr. White having retired from active participation some years before his death. Destroyers of the largest type, power, and speed have been built and engined by the firm during the last few years, and the highest standard of workmanship was attained. He also developed the manufacture of Diesel engines of the two-stroke cycle type, and other internal-combustion engines for smaller powers, the construction of which became a speciality of the firm. The building of sea-planes was also commenced, and under his supervision a large new factory for this class of work was erected at West Cowes, many successful machines being constructed.

His death took place at East Cowes, Isle of Wight, on 5th August 1915, at the age of fifty-seven.

He was elected a Member of this Institution in 1899. He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and a Member of Council of the Institution of Naval Architects.

1915 Obituary [2]

EDWIN CHARLES CARNT, who died on August 5, 1915, was an original member of the Institute, and was one who worked hard at furthering the objects which the Institute always has in view.

Mr. Carnt was early associated with the Royal Navy, passing through the various grades from engineer student to that of staff engineer, which he attained shortly before being permitted to resign in 1898. His work in the Senior Service was marked by all-round efficiency, conceived and carried out in such a spirit of conscientious application both to detail and to matters of larger import, that it could not fail to secure him special notice and commendation from the then chiefs of the engineering and constructive branches. Whether as overseer at the Naval Construction Works, Barrow-in-Furness, as assistant to the Chief Engineer, Portsmouth Dockyard, or engineering assistant to the Director of Dockyards, he alike showed powers of organization and thoroughness which could not but lead to a justly prosperous career.

He resigned from the Navy to join Mr. John Samuel White, whose well-known shipbuilding works at Cowes were about to undergo a series of far-reaching extensions and developments under the energetic control of the new engineering manager. In the course of a few years he became the sole managing director of this firm, and widened the scope of its operations in every direction ; when he joined in 1898 the total number of employees was about 600; after fifteen years of work he had increased this to over 3000. Any difficulty in manufacture or design would receive his close and unremitting attention until surmounted ; it was in this direction in particular that much of his work becomes of great value to our members.

Some are content to leave a thorny problem to other hands, pursuing the beaten track in search of commercial prosperity. That was not Mr. Carnt's way ; he would spare no expense to overcome the difficulty, and would afterwards generously share the valuable information and experience gained, either with the members of our own Institute or with those of a kindred society.

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