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British Industrial History

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Robert Paulson Spice

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Robert Paulson Spice (1814-1889)

1848 Indenture. ' indenture, bearing date the 6th day of March 1848, Robert Paulson Spice, of Fakenham, in the county of Norfolk, Civil Engineer, hath conveyed and assigned all his estate and effects whatsoever to Moritz Platow, of No. 55, High Holborn, in the county of Middlesex, Gas Fitting Manufacturer, and Lynch White, of Bankside, in the borough of Southwark, Iron Merchant, as trustees, upon trust, for the benefit of all the creditors of him the said Robert Paulson Spice; and that the said indenture was duly executed by the said Robert Paulson Spice, Moritz Platow, and Lynch White, on the said 6th day of March 1848...'[1]

1889 Obituary [2]

. . . . young Spice was apprenticed to an ironmonger at Fakenham, in Norfolk, to whose business he eventually succeeded.

During the period between his marriage in 1837 and the year 1848, he worked hard to fit himself for the profession of a gas engineer, and it is surmised that he acted in that capacity on occasions while still nominally an ironmonger, as it is known that he commenced designing and erecting gas-works in 1845-6, and there is an inscription in existence, taken from the old Hoddesdon Gas-works, bearing the words, R. P. Spice, Engineer, 1847.

He probably merged his Fakenham business into that of a contractor for supplying gas-works requisites; at any rate, in 1848 he relinquished his trade as an ironmonger, and thenceforward entirely devoted himself to the gas interest.

After erecting works for lighting Fakenham, he settled at Richmond, Surrey, where he established himself in the management of gas-works under leases, according to a very general practice of the time. He opened offices in Cornhill in 1860, about which date, and for several years following, he was lessee of the gas-works at Wandsworth, Hampton Court, Richmond, and Watford.

He also built gas-works at Great Yarmouth, Boston (Lincolnshire), Tunbridge Wells, Tattershall, Abingdon, Hartley-Wintney, Hoddesdon, and other places. Thus, like most other gas engineers of his epoch, he grew into his place by experience, and held it by a native aptitude for the business of his choice. He was largely consulted by gas companies and local authorities for arbitration, rating-appeals, &c. ; and he had an extensive Parliamentary practice. . . . [more]

1889 Obituary [3]

ROBERT PAULSON SPICE was born in Norwich on 1st January 1814.

Having started in business as an ironmonger at Fakenham in Norfolk, his connection with the management of gas undertakings began with the construction in 1843 of the works for lighting that town.

He then settled at Richmond, Surrey, where he devoted himself to the management of gas works under leases, according to a common practice at that time.

In 1860 he opened offices in Cornhill, London, and for several years subsequently was lessee of the gas works at Wandsworth, Hampton Court, Richmond, and Watford. He also built gas works at Great Yarmouth, Boston (Lincolnshire), Tunbridge Wells, Tattershall, Abingdon, Hartley Wintney, Hoddesdon, and other places. The new works at Riddings, near Alfreton, have also just been completed from his plans.

In addition to the work of construction, his services as adviser, witness, or umpire were constantly sought; and he had an extensive parliamentary practice.

He was at one time interested in experiments for the manufacture and supply of water gas, and described the plan in June 1875 in a paper read before the British Association of Gas Managers, of which he became president in the following year. The plan was tried on a working scale at the Crystal Palace District Gas Works, but proved unsuccessful.

In 1881 he was concerned with the St. John and Rockwell gas condensing and carburetting apparatus; and more recently was interested in the Cooper coal-liming process.

He died in London on 11th May 1889, at the age of seventy-five.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1876.

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