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John Lamb

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John Lamb, O.B.E. (1890-1958)

1958 Obituary [1]

MARINE engineers, both in this country and abroad, will have learned with feelings of regret of the death of John Lamb, which occurred in London on August 12. Mr. Lamb had been associated with the development of the oil engine as a main propulsion unit and the results of his work were made available to all marine engineers through the medium of papers read before various technical bodies. His textbooks on the running and maintenance of marine diesel engines and the operation of motorship auxiliary machinery have long been recognised as standard works on marine engineering.

John Lamb was born in Northumberland on August 24, 1890, and served an engineering apprenticeship with Clarke, Chapman and Co., Ltd., after which he went to sea, and gained his early experience with oil engines.

It was in August, 1919, that he joined the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company, Ltd., and the following year he was appointed chief engineer of the motor tanker "Ortinashell." He continued at sea until 1924, when he came ashore in the capacity of superintendent engineer, and was responsible, under Mr. Zulver, for the construction of double-acting Werkspoor engines for several ships of the company's fleet.

In 1938, he resigned his post to join F. J. Trewent and Proctor, Ltd., the consulting engineers and naval architects, but rejoined the Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company, Ltd., as manager of the technical division about two years later. Mr. Lamb was made manager of the research and development department in 1948 and became a director of Shell Tankers, Ltd., on its formation in 1953; he also formed a company with the title John Lamb Publications and Inventions, Ltd.

During the war years he was concerned with, among other assignments, the conversion of oil tankers to merchant aircraft carriers, and the development of a fireproof lifeboat. Since then he took the lead in the development of burning heavy fuel oil in diesel engines, in which work the machinery of the tanker "Auricula " was used for test purposes, and for a paper on this subject he was awarded the Denny Gold Medal by the Institute of Marine Engineers.

He also investigated the question of the cathodic protection of the oil compartments of tankers and for his work on the prevention of explosions in crankcases the Institution of Mechanical Engineers gave him the Akroyd-Stuart prize. Among his major interests in recent years were the experiments towards the development of gas turbines for marine propulsion, in which the tanker Auris acted as a test bed. The results of this pioneer work were given in a paper entitled " Operation of Marine Gas Turbine Under Sea Conditions," and gained him his second Denny Gold Medal.

1958 Obituary [2]


John Lamb wrote a fascinating autobiography, published in 1954. His descriptions of the trials and tribulations of working as an engineer on steamships and on unreliable early diesel-engined ships are particularly enlightening.[3]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1958/08/22
  2. Engineering 1958 Jul-Dec: Index‎‎
  3. 'Backward Thinking' by John Lamb, O.B.E., John Lamb Publications and Inventions Limited, 1954