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Hay Frederick Donaldson

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1913. Sir Hay Frederick Donaldson (1856-1916).

Sir Hay Frederick Donaldson (1856-1916) was the son of the first Premier of New South Wales, was born in Sydney on 7 June 1856. He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, followed by a technical education at the University of Edinburgh.

Between 1875 and 1877, he served an apprenticeship at the London and North Western Railway Works, Crewe.

For the following two years, he received further technical training at Zürich and Cambridge.

In 1880 he was employed on Parliamentary work, and as engineer in charge of the construction of the Burnley tramways. He was also an executive engineer on the West of India Portuguese Railway and Harbour, as well as the harbour works at Goa.

In 1887 he returned to England, and was appointed engineer in charge of the No. 1 section of the Manchester Ship Canal, including construction of entrance locks, estuary banks and heavy piling work.

After a short period of private engineering practice, he was appointed Engineer-in-Chief of the London and India Docks Joint Committee. He held this position for almost five years, after which time he was appointed Deputy Director-General of Ordnance Factories, Woolwich, under Sir William Anderson.

He was appointed Chief Mechanical Engineer in 1899, the following year.

In 1903 he became Chief Superintendent of the Royal Ordnance Factories.

1913/14 He was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

In 1915, at the request of Lloyd George, he temporarily gave up his position in order to act as Technical Advisor to the Ministry of Munitions.

1916 Was a member of the Burbidge committee on the Royal Aircraft Factory.

He frequently accompanied the Minister of Munitions on visits throughout the country, and it was in this capacity that, in 1916, he was visiting Russia in the staff of Lord Kitchener, when the boat on which he was travelling, the H. M. S. Hampshire, hit a mine recently laid by a German U Boat, sank off the Orkney Islands.


1916 Obituary [1]

Sir HAY FREDERICK DONALDSON, K.C.B., the second son of Sir Stuart A. Donaldson, the first Premier of New South Wales, was born at Sydney on 7th June 1856.

He was educated at Eton and Trinity College, Cambridge, afterwards receiving technical training at the University of Edinburgh.

From 1875 to 1877 he served an apprenticeship at the London and North Western Railway Works, Crewe, under the late Mr. F. W. Webb, and afterwards received further technical training, from 1877 to 1879, at Zurich and at Cambridge.

In 1880 he was employed on Parliamentary work and as engineer in charge of the construction of the Burnley tramways, and in September of the following year was appointed one of the assistant engineers, and shortly after an executive engineer, on the West of India Portuguese Railway and Harbour. During a part of his service here he was in charge of the harbour works at Goa.

In 1887 he returned to England, and was soon appointed by the late Mr. Thomas A. Walker engineer in charge of No. 1 section of the Manchester Ship Canal, which work involved the construction of entrance locks, estuary banks and heavy piling work.

After leaving the Manchester Ship Canal, he was engaged in 1891-2 in private engineering practice, and on 1st January 1893 was appointed Engineer-in-Chief of the London and India Docks Joint Committee, a position which he held until 31st December 1897, when he received the appointment of Deputy Director-General of Ordnance Factories, Woolwich, under the late Sir William Anderson.

Sir William Anderson died in 1898, and during the illness preceding his decease, and after his death, Mr. Donaldson, as he then was, was temporarily in charge of the Royal Ordnance Factories, and in 1899 was appointed Chief Mechanical Engineer.

In 1903, on the retirement of Sir E. Bainbridge, he became Chief Superintendent of the Royal Ordnance Factories. The heavy responsible work, much of it carried on under very trying conditions, greatly taxed his health and strength, added to which were the great demands for guns and munitions for the present War. For his services he received the honour of Companion of the Order of the Bath in 1910, which was followed by that of K.C.B. in 1911.

In September 1915, at the request of Mr. Lloyd George, he temporarily gave up his position at Woolwich in order to act as Technical Adviser at the Ministry of Munitions, and he frequently accompanied the Minister of Munitions on his visits to the chief industrial centres throughout the country; in the autumn he also visited Canada and the United States.

It was as a representative of the Ministry of Munitions that Sir Frederick Donaldson, in company with Mr. Leslie S. Robertson (page 566), became a member of the staff of Lord Kitchener on the visit to Russia, whose tragic deaths took place on 5th June 1916 by the sinking of H.M.S. "Hampshire" off the Orkney Islands. Sir Frederick was then nearly sixty years of age. For the purposes of this visit the War Office granted him the relative precedence of a Brigadier-General.

Sir Frederick took an active interest in the work of this Institution, of which he was elected a Member in 1898. He joined the Council in 1905, was a Vice-President in 1910, and occupied the Presidential Chair in 1913-14. During the first year of his Presidency the Institution held its Summer Meeting at Cambridge. This was the first time such a Meeting had been held at one of the older University towns, and, thanks to the admirable arrangements largely organized by the President and his late brother, the Rev. S. A. Donaldson, D.D., then Master of Magdalene and Vice-Chancellor of the University, the Meeting was a great success. At the Summer Meeting in Paris in 1914, about a month before the War broke out, he was at the last moment prevented from attending, owing to urgent matters at Woolwich.

He read a Paper before the Institution in 1903, on "Cutting Angles of Tools," and gave an instructive Lecture to the Graduates in 1909, on "The Interchangeability of Screw-Threads."

He took a most active part in developing the system of examination for Graduates and Associate Members, and made most earnest appeals to the members for establishing on a financial basis the Benevolent Fund of the Institution. He was a Member of Council of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and did excellent work in connexion with the Engineering Standards Committee, both as a member of the Main Committee and as Chairman of the Sectional Committee on Screw-Threads and Limit-Gauges.


1916 Obituary [2]

Sir HAY FREDERICK DONALDSON, K.C.B., lost his life, together with the other members attached to Lord Kitchener's staff, in H.M.S. Hampshire, which foundered through striking a mine on June 5, 1916, while on a voyage to Russia.

Sir Frederick Donaldson was born in Australia in 1856, being the second son of the late Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson, who was the first Prime Minister of New South Wales. He studied at Eton, Edinburgh University, Trinity College, Cambridge, and the Zurich Polytechnic, and afterwards served his time as an engineer at the Crewe works of the London & North Western Railway, under the late Mr. F. W. Webb. He subsequently took up a position under Mr. J. Kincaid of Westminster. He went out to Goa as assistant engineer of the West India Portuguese Guaranteed Railway, and was engaged for three years on the planning and construction of railways and harbour works.

He left India in 1887 to join the staff of the late Mr. T. A. Walker, and acted as resident engineer during the construction of the Manchester Ship Canal. His experience gained in that capacity led to his being deputed in 1891 to proceed to Nicaragua for the purpose of preparing a report on a route for an inter-oceanic canal through that country, and at the same time he reported on a railway in Costa Rica. Soon after his return to England he was appointed chief engineer to the London and India Docks Joint Committee, and held that post for over five years.

His connection with Government work began in 1898, when he became Deputy Director-General of the Royal Ordnance Factories at Woolwich under the late Sir William Anderson. A year later he was made chief engineer of the Factories, and after four years he became chief superintendent, having under his charge the whole of Woolwich Arsenal as well as the works at Enfield and Waltham Abbey. Sir Frederick Donaldson continued to hold that position until September 1915, when, at the request of the Minister of Munitions, he became chief technical adviser to the Ministry. For his work while in charge of the Ordnance Factories he was created a Knight Commander of the Bath in 1911.

Sir Frederick was a member of the executive committee of the National Physical Laboratory, and chairman of the sectional committee of the Engineering Standards Committee. He was also a Member of Council of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and was President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers during the session 1913-14. He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1906.


1916 Obituary [3]

Sir HAY FREDERICK DONALDSON, K.C.B., lost his life by the destruction of H.M.S. “Hampshire” off the Orkneys on the 5th June, 1916, whilst proceeding with Lord Kitchener to Russia. In the calamity which then befell the nation, The Institution suffered a threefold loss in the deaths of Lord Kitchener, Honorary Member, Sir Frederick Donaldson and Leslie S. Robertson.

The subject of this memoir was the second son of Sir Stuart Alexander Donaldson, the first Premier of New South Wales, and was born at Sydney on the 7th July, 1856. He was educated at Eton and at Trinity College, Cambridge, afterwards receiving technical training at Edinburgh University.

From 1875 to 1877 he served a term of pupilage and apprenticeship at the London and North Western Railway Works at Crewe, under the late Mr. F. W. Webb, and afterwards received further technical training, from 1877 to 1879, at Zurich Technical School and at Cambridge.

In 1880 he was employed on Parliamentary work and as engineer in charge of the construction of the Burnley tramways under the late Mr. Joseph Kincaid, being later - in September 1881 - appointed one of the assistant engineers, and shortly after made an executive engineer on the West of India Portuguese Railway and Harbour, under Mr. E. E. Sawyer. During part of his service with this company he held charge of the harbour works at Goa, but was mainly responsible for the construction of sections of the railway, involving much heavy work.

In 1887, on the completion of his duties in India, Mr. Donaldson, as he then was, returned to England, and in the autumn of the same year was appointed by the late Mr. Thomas A. Walker, contractor, as his engineer in charge of No. 1 section of the Manchester Ship Canal, this engagement involving the construction of entrance locks, estuary banks, and heavy piling work of great magnitude and importance. After leaving the Manchester Ship Canal he was engaged in 1891 and 1892 in private engineering practice, and on the 1st January, 1893, he was appointed Engineer-in-Chief to the London and India Docks Joint Committee. He was the Author of a Paper in the Proceedings on “Cold Storage at the London and India Docks,” for which he was awarded a Telford premium. He received the appointment of Deputy Director-General of Ordnance Factories under the late Sir William Anderson.

Sir William Anderson died in 1898, and both during the illness which preceded his decease and after his death, Mr. Donaldson was temporarily in charge of all the Ordnance Factories, and in 1899 he was appointed Chief Mechanical Engineer, in charge of all consultative business, the selection and purchase of machinery, and the modernisation of methods of ,manufacture. Later, in 1903, on the retirement of Sir E. Bainbridge, he was appointed Chief Superintendent of the Royal Ordnance Factories; a position which he held until last year. The work involved vast responsibilities, and much of it was carried on under very trying conditions, which greatly taxed his health and strength. The present war, with the consequent unprecedented demands for guns and munitions of all kinds, necessitated great extensions of the factories and largely increased the work of control. Shortly after the establishment of the Ministry of Munitions, Sir Frederick Donaldson, at the request of Mr. Lloyd-George, temporarily gave up his position as Chief Superintendent of Royal Ordnance Factories in order to act as his technical adviser at the .Ministry. His services to the State were recognised in 1909 by the award of the honour of C.B., which was followed by K.C.B. in 1911.

Sir Frederick took an active interest in the work of The Institution. He was elected a member of the Council in 1911, and served on that body, and on various committees, until his death. He was also a member and past-president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and did excellent work on the Engineering Standards committee, both as a member of the main committee and as Chairman of the Committee on Screw Threads and Limit-Gauges. At its meeting on the 20th June, 1916, the Council of The Institution passed the following resolution: “That the Council deeply regret the death of their colleague, Sir Hay Frederick Donaldson, which occurred in the course of public war-service rendered by him, and desire to place on record their high appreciation of t;he services rendered by him to The Institution and the Engineering profession, and to express to Lady Donaldson and the members of his family sincere condolence in their bereavement.”

It was announced in the London Gazette of the 12th June that he held the rank of Brigadier-General.

Sir Frederick Donaldson was elected an Associate Member of The Institution on the 7th February, 1882, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 7th April, 1891


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1916 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  2. 1916 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries
  3. 1916 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries