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John William Curtis

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John William Curtis (1883-1949)

1950 Obituary [1]

"JOHN WILLIAM CURTIS, M.B.E., specialized in the erection of gas producing plant and, with the exception of two years spent in acquiring outside experience, had been identified with the firm of Messrs. West's Gas Improvement Company, Ltd., of Manchester, throughout his professional career. He was closely associated with the late Mr. John West in the design and development of the Glover-West system of continuous carbonization in vertical retorts for the manufacture of town gas. Moreover, his technical interests and experience covered every branch of the great variety of engineering involved in the design and erection of modern carbonizing plant, with its extensive mechanical handling plant, power generation and transmission, and, particularly, the manufacture of refractory materials.

He was born in 1883, and received his technical education (which extended over twelve years, from 1898 to 1910) at the Manchester Municipal College of Technology, where he later took a course in industrial administration. He began his apprenticeship with Messrs. West's in 1898, and on its completion, in 1905, he continued in the service of the firm as mechanical draughtsman until 1907, when he joined Messrs. Redpath Brown and Company, Ltd., with whom he gained experience as a structural. draughtsman.

On his return to Messrs. West's Gas Improvement Co two years later, he was employed in the drawing office, first as specialist, and subsequently as leading draughtsman. After acting as technical assistant to the general manager, he was made production engineer, in 1919, a post he retained for fifteen years. He then became deputy chief engineer, and succeeded to the position of chief engineer in 1945, from which he retired in October 1948. His services, however, were retained to carry out an important scheme of reconstruction and extension for one of the subsidiary companies, and he was still engaged upon these activities at the time of his death, which occurred on 19th May 1949. Mr. Curtis was keenly interested in the training and education of the young engineer, and it was his work for the Students' Section of the Manchester Association of Engineers, during his term of office on the Council, that was so fittingly rewarded by his election, in 1948, as President of the Association.

During the war of 1914-18 he was in charge of munition work, and for these services he was awarded the M.B.E. He had been an Associate Member of the Institution since 1921."

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