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John Thom

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John Thom (c1860-1935) of the London Central Markets Cold Storage Co


1935 Obituary [1]

JOHN THOM was chief engineer of the London Central Markets Cold Storage Company, Ltd., from 1900, when the firm had just started business, until the conclusion of its operations. He designed and equipped the various stores owned by the firm at Smithfield and Poplar and converted the power plants at these depots from steam to electric drive.

Mr. Thom was born at Quithel, Durris, Kincardineshire, and was educated at the Aberdeen Grammar School; in 1875 he entered the works of Messrs. William McKinnon and Company, of Aberdeen, as an apprentice, serving until 1881.

He then worked for a few months with Messrs. Hall, Russell and Company and subsequently went to sea as junior engineer in Messrs. George Hepburn's Liverpool steamships.

In 1884 he joined Messrs. George Thompson and Sons, and served on their steamships; in 1885 he obtained his First Class Board of Trade certificate and rose to be chief engineer, in which capacity he was engaged until his appointment with the London Central Markets Cold Storage Company.

He went to West Africa in 1911 to report on the best site for a cold store and ice works for the white population in a gold-mining district. The store and ice works were later constructed under his supervision and arrangements were made for frozen meat to be shipped from Liverpool in insulated boxes made to Mr. Thom's designs, taken ashore in surf boats, and transported by rail to the store, whence it could be sent to the mines as required.

In 1918 Mr. Thom was appointed a member of the Cold Storage Research Board of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research under the chairmanship of the late Sir J. Alfred Ewing, Hon. M.I.Mech.E., and also served for several years on the subcommittee for the design of insulated and refrigerator cars and barges. He was an honorary member of the British Association of Refrigeration, and was in his seventy-sixth year when his death occurred at Hayes, Middlesex, on 23rd February 1935.

Mr. Thom was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1904 and was transferred to Membership in 1923. He was a vice-president of the Institute of Marine Engineers for the year 1924, and was a Freeman of the City of London.


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