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British Industrial History

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Richard Tilden Smith

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Richard Tilden Smith (c1866-1930)

1930 Obituary [1]

RICHARD TILDEN SMITH died suddenly in the House of Commons on December 18, 1929, in his sixty-fifth year.

His activities were wide and varied. He was instrumental in establishing the great smelting works at Avonmouth, which had their origin in the German-owned Swansea Vale Works, which he bought at the outbreak of the Great War. His great speciality was the reconstruction of derelict concerns; he reconstructed companies with a total capital value of £200,000,000.

His last great undertaking was the Tilmanstone Mine near Dover, and the development of the East Kent Coalfield. He was determined to make it a success, both commercially and as a demonstration of fruitful rationalisation. He installed the most modern equipment, including a 7-mile rope railway to Dover and a 5000-ton bunker at Dover Harbour. He aimed to make Tilmanstone the centre of new industries - gas making and distribution; low- and high-temperature carbonisation; coke and briquette making; cement manufacture; iron smelting; and electrical power generation.

In order to dispose of the gas he acquired control of three gas companies in the neighbourhood. Nor was the material aspect his only concern. He held that industry could not be secure unless the employees were satisfied. The colliery was managed by a general managing committee consisting of two representatives of the company and two of the workmen, supplemented by a labour committee, comprising a workmen's representative, a company representative and an independent chairman drawn from among the workmen. Mr. Tilden Smith also cared for the welfare of the employees by the provision of facilities for recreation, sport and education, clubs, a social settlement, and model dwellings.

Mr. Tilden Smith became a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1919.

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