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British Industrial History

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Wilfrid Joseph Matthews

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Wilfrid Joseph Matthews (1880-1950)

1951 Obituary [1]

"Captain WILFRID JOSEPH MATTHEWS, R.E., ret., was engaged in marine surveying for most of his career.

He was born in 1880 and served his time in the Midland and South Western Railway works and those of the London and South Western Railway at Nine Elms, from 1896 to 1901. He then joined the shore staff of Messrs. Esplen, Son and Swainston, consulting engineers and naval architects, and later went to sea as marine engineer, rising from third to chief and obtaining his first-class Board of Trade Certificate.

In 1908 he became works manager of Messrs. R. A. Lister and Company's branch at Brixham and in addition carried out surveys and salvage operations for Lloyds Agents and the Salvage Association on the coasts of Devon and Cornwall.

In 1914 he was called up from the Territorial Force Reserve and gazetted with the rank of second lieutenant in the Royal Engineers. He served overseas from 1915 and rose to the rank of captain. On demobilization in 1919 Captain Matthews was seconded to the Admiralty and after service in the directorate of ship repairs at Constantinople received a joint appointment from the Gibraltar Colonial Government and Lloyds Register of Shipping as port surveyor and non-exclusive ship and engineer surveyor. During the period 1919-40 he dealt with no less than 11,000,000 tons of shipping, his duties including the holding of surveys, supervision of repairs, and fitting out of damaged and captured vessels. On the closing of the port to civilians in 1940, Captain Matthews returned to England and subsequently received an appointment as an assistant inspecting officer in the Royal Ordnance Factory at Nottingham. In 1941 he became inspector of gun carriages for the Ministry of Supply at Ottawa and New York, and in the following year was transferred to the British Admiralty Delegation at Washington as assistant engineer on the staff of the engineer-in-chief, where he was concerned with repairs to war damaged battleships. Finally, in 1943, he was attached to the British Admiralty Technical Mission in connection with the new construction programme then being carried out under the supervision of Lloyd's Register of Shipping. Captain Matthews had been a Member of the Institution since 1916. His death occurred on 1st November 1950."

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