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William Blane

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William Blane (c1859-1936)


1936 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM BLARE, C.B.E., was one of the pioneers of the city of Johannesburg, where he was in business for many years as a consulting mining engineer. He was one of the first engineers to develop the layout of gold mines on scientific lines.

He first went to South Africa in 1883, after completing a seven years' apprenticeship in the Kilmarnock works of Messrs. Allen Gilmour and Company, and became a locomotive foreman and sub-inspector on the Cape Government Railways.

Later he was appointed chief engineer of the Durban Roodepoort Gold Mining Company, a pioneer mining firm in Johannesburg, of which he subsequently became general manager. He was also general manager of the first deep-level mine there, owned by the May Deep Level Gold Mining Company. He erected one of the first plants in South Africa for extracting gold by the cyanide process.

In 1891 he founded the firm of Blane and Company, in which he was senior partner, and in which he retained an active interest until his death. The firm was largely concerned with importing and constructing mining machinery.

He went to Australia in 1901 to report to the Government on railway and mining conditions there. For five years, beginning in 1909, he reported to The Engineer on railway and dock matters in South Africa, India, China, Japan, the United States, and Canada.

During the War he was stationed at Sheffield, where he held the position of Senior Technical Assistant to the Directorate of Army Contracts.

In 1917 he was awarded the C.B.E., and in the same year he was transferred to the War Office, London, as Assistant Director of Army Contracts. He gave evidence before the Coal Industry Commissioners in 1920. Mr. Blane contributed articles to the technical press for a number of years, but he was also well known as the author of several volumes of poems, and he recently published a novel.

His death occurred on 11th March 1936, at the age of 77.

He had been a Member of the Institution since 1898.


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