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Walter Mackersie Smith

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Walter Mackersie Smith (1842-1906)

1906 Died in Newcastle; probate to Margaret Smith, his widow, and Walter James Smith, engineer[1]

1906 Obituary [2]

WALTER MACKERSIE SMITH was born at Ferry-Port-on-Craig, Scotland, on 25th December 1842, and was educated there and at the High School, Dundee.

He commenced his apprenticeship in 1858 with Messrs. William Norman and Sons, general engineers and millwrights, of Glasgow, and completed it with Messrs. Todd and McGregor, marine engineers, of Clyde Foundry, Glasgow.

Subsequently, for a short time, he gained experience of patent office work with Mr. Edmund Hunt, and then started work at Messrs. Neilson and Co.'s Locomotive Works.

Eighteen months later he joined Mr. Samuel W. Johnson on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway, and while there he invented and applied an auxiliary valve to the steam-regulator of the "grid-iron" type.

In 1866 Mr. Johnson left Glasgow to become chief mechanical engineer to the Great Eastern Railway. Mr. Smith followed him to Stratford, and was entrusted with the design of the rolling stock for that railway.

In 1874 he was appointed locomotive, carriage, and wagon superintendent of the Imperial Government Railways of Japan, and was among the first locomotive engineers sent to that country. When he arrived the line was open from Yokohama to Tokyo. Remaining at the former place for a short time, he revised the working arrangements, and afterwards proceeded to Kobe, where he proceeded to erect workshops.

Until 1876 the carriages and wagons had been imported, but he installed a complete plant, so that subsequently the various parts were constructed in Japan.

In 1883 he returned to England, and entered the service of the North Eastern Railway under Mr. McDonnell, who entrusted him with the arrangement of the workshops and machinery at Gateshead. He also took an active part in the question of the rolling stock. The engine, No. 1619, built on his system, was the first compound locomotive of British design which was a success; and a large number of engines constructed on this system are now at work on other railways.

In 1898 he made valuable tests in connection with the working of express locomotives, the results of which were embodied in a Paper read before this Institution. Subsequently he contributed another Paper on "The Application of Cylindrical Steam Distributing Valves to Locomotives," and took part in the discussion on Mons. Sauvage's Paper on "Compound Locomotives in France." On that occasion he described his system of four-cylinder compound engines; these locomotives have worked successfully, and have shown their ability to deal with heavy loads at high speed. He was the inventor of many useful improvements in connection with the locomotive engine, including cross water-tubes in the fire-box.

For some time he had been suffering from ill-health, which terminated in his death at his residence in Newcastle-on-Tyne, on 25th October 1906, in his sixty-fourth year.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1898.

1906 Obituary [3]

Obituary [4]

The death is reported, in his sixty-fourth year, of Mr. Walter Mackenzie Smith, at Newcastle-on-Tyne. He was a native of Ferryport-on-Craig, in Scotland, and had much experience on Scotch and English railways, as well as in Japan, where be took charge of the locomotive engineering of the Imperial Government Railways. He was connected with the designing of the first compound locomotive, and introduced many inventions and improvements in locomotive building at the Gateshead Works of the North Eastern Railway.

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