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Roger Thomas Smith

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Roger Thomas Smith (1863-1940) of the Great Western Railway


1923 Retirement Notice [1]

"It was recently reported that Mr. Roger Smith, chief electrical engineer to the Great Western Railway, is retiring, and that the electrical engineer's department is to be merged into the mechanical department. Mr. J. R. Grainge, who has been Mr. Roger Smith's chief assistant, is to become electrical assistant to the chief mechanical engineer. This will, no doubt, be regarded as a setback to railway electrification in this country, for no one has taken a more active part in electrification propaganda than Mr. Roger Smith. In electrical circles the Great Western Company's decision to do without a separate electrical department is bound to meet with disapproval, the idea usually being that mechanical engineers are necessarily antagonistic to electrification. In any case, the change is a pretty clear indication that the company has no big schemes in view. In fact, the whole electrical outlook on railways in this country is, at the moment, distinctly gloomy. The York to Newcastle scheme has been abandoned the electrification of the suburban lines round Liverpool-street is being delayed, and it has been announced that that there is to be no electric service to Brighton."


1940 Obituary [2]

IT is with great regret that we have to record the death of Mr. Roger Smith, formerly electrical engineer to the Great Western Railway. Following a short illness, Mr. Smith died in London on Sunday, April 28th.

Roger Thomas Smith was born at Forest Hill, London, on March 23rd, 1863, and was the son of Professor T. R. Smith, who occupied the chair of Architecture at University College. London.

He was educated at Mill Hill School. His scientific training was acquired at University College and his practical experience in mechanical engineering at the works of Hathorn, Davey and Co., Ltd., of Leeds.

In 1890 he went to India as the representative of Easton, Anderson, and Goolden and was given charge of the erection of pumping plant in six large cities. Subsequently, after a spell of duty as municipal and waterworks engineer at Allahabad, he returned to this country and was appointed resident engineer at the Davies Street generating station. Thereafter he spent four years at Antwerp as technical manager of the Cie. Hydro-electrique Anveroise.

In 1898 he was appointed an assistant in the office of Kennedy and Jenkin, consulting engineers, and remained with that firm for seven years. During that period of his career he was closely associated with questions of electric supply and the electrification of tramways and railways - in particular with the electrification of the London County Council and the Buenos Aires tramways and of the Hammersmith and City Railway.

In 1905, he was appointed electrical engineer to the Great Western Railway, a post which he continued to hold until his retirement in 1924. During his tenure of that office he carried out, among other works, the electrification of the Ealing and Shepherd's Bush Railway.

In 1923-24, in conjunction with Sir Felix Pole, he was appointed to draw up a report on the Sudan Government's railways and steamers.

Following his retirement from the service of the Great Western Railway he became a partner in the firm of Highfield and Roger Smith and engaged in consulting work in connection with electric supply and railway electrification in France, Belgium, and the Sudan, and for the Central England Electricity Board.

Mr. Smith was a member of the Institutions of Civil, Mechanical, and Electrical Engineers and of the Institute of Transport. He was President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1919, and of the Institute of Transport in 1927. From 1929 until last year he served in the Senate of London University as representative of the engineering members of Convocation. He was of a quiet and unassuming nature and in all respects a very lovable man. There are but few electrical engineers better known in this country and his reputation was as sound upon the Continent of Europe and far overseas as it was here. Having lived to a good age, the best of his work had been done, but his memory will remain with those who were fortunate enough to count him amongst their friends.


1940 Obituary [3]

OGER THOMAS SMITH received his education at Mill Hill School and University College, London, where he graduated B.Sc. in 1885. He served his apprenticeship with Messrs. Haydon and Sons, London, from 1883 to 1884 and with Messrs. Hathorn, Davey and Company, Leeds, from 1886 to 1888. For the latter firm he superintended the erection of pumping machinery for the Menston Asylum, Yorkshire, and the deep well pumps for the East London waterworks at Lea Bridge.

In 1889 he went to India on a three years' engagement for Messrs. Easton, Anderson and Goolden, Ltd., as representative and engineer, and superintended the erection of the pumping and purifying machinery for several waterworks including those at Agra, Allahabad, and Naini Tal. He was municipal engineer at Allahabad for six months.

On returning to England in 1893, he worked with Professor Fleming in the electrical laboratory at University College, London, until 1894. He was then appointed supernumerary engineer at the Davis Street station of the Westminster Electric Supply Corporation. In 1895 he became technical manager of La Cie Hydro Electrique Anversoise, which supplied Antwerp with hydraulic power and electricity. On vacating that appointment in 1898 he joined Messrs. Sir Alexander Kennedy and Jenkin as an assistant engineer and was engaged on the electrification of the tramways for the L.C.C. and the city of Buenos Aires.

Appointed electrical engineer to the Great Western Railway in 1905, he carried out the electrical equipment of the Ealing and Shepherd's Bush Railway. He went to the Sudan in 1923 and signed with Sir Felix Pole his report on the Sudan railways. Retiring from the Great Western Railway Company in 1924, he became a partner in the firm of Messrs. Highfield and Roger Smith, consulting engineers.

Mr. Smith, whose death in his seventy-eighth year occurred on 28th April 1940, had been a Member of the Institution for 44 years, having been elected in 1896; he was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers and a past-president of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, the Institute of Transport, and the British Section of la Societe des Ingenieurs Civils de France.


1940 Obituary [4]



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