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British Industrial History

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James Brown Marshall

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Sir James Brown Marshall (1853-1922).

1922 Obituary[1]


By the death, at his residence at Southsea, on the 21st inst., of Sir James Brown Marshall, K.C.B., there has passed away a naval architect who, for nearly 50. years, has been closely identified with warship building, and the development of the Royal Dockyards; indeed, Sir James had spent the whole of his professional life in the Dockyard Service. Sir James was born on February 23, 1853, the son of Mr. Samuel Marshall, of Berwick, and he was educated in shipbuilding and naval architecture at the Portsmouth Dockyard, in the Royal School of Naval Architecture and the Royal Naval College, Greenwich. He entered the Portsmouth Dockyard as an apprentice in 1867, when 14 years of age, and passed through various departments, moving forward step by step to the highest position in that particular department of the Service.

The late Dr. Elgar took up at the Admiralty, in 1886, the difficult work of organising the dockyards on a commercial basis, as a consequence of the advice of Admiral Graham’s Committee. Marshall assisted Dr. Elgar, and the association thus commenced continued throughout his life. When Dr. Elgar retired and was succeeded by Sir James Williamson in 1891, Sir James Marshall still continued as assistant director, and succeeded Sir James Williamson in 1906, and for 11 years he ocoupied that office, namely, until 1917,1 probably the most strenuous period in the history of the Royal Dockyards. The practice of appointing technical men as managers of the shipbuilding and engine repairing departments was thoroughly justified during his time, because an enormous amount of work had to be undertaken, not so much for the building of new ships, hut for the repair and re-conditioning of existing ships. At the same time, the great development in the type of ship for the Navy required important modifications in the plant and machine tools, and in this matter Sir James Marshall rendered good service. When he retired under the age limit, in 1907, he was invited to join the hoard of Messrs. J. Samuel White and Co., of Cowes, of which his old friend, Mr. Carnt, was then chairman. For five years Sir James served as deputy-chairman, and afterwards succeeded as chairman. He continued his association until practically the end. He was elected a member of the Institution of Naval Architects in 1886, and served for several years on the Council from 1906, hut he took little part in public life. He married Alice, eldest daughter of the late Joseph Pharaoh, Bedhampton, by whom he is survived, and the sympathy of many professional and other friends goes out to her in her bereavement."

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