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Andrew Howard Gordon

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Andrew Howard Gordon (1881-1958)

c1910 Married(1) in Manchester to Agnes Stewart Coubrough

1930-35 Married(2) in Shanghai to Emilie Cole (the widow of Philip Henry Cole)


1958 Obituary [1]

Andrew Howard Gordon was an Aberdonian, born on the 18th October 1881, the son of a banker who became Manager of the Union Bank of Scotland, Cornhill.

He was educated at University College School and at a Moravian school in Germany.

On leaving school in 1897 he began his engineering education by taking a year's mechanical course at the City and Guilds Technical College, Finsbury.

He then served a three-year apprenticeship with the New Southgate Engineering Co., and in 1901 attended the Finsbury Technical College again to take a two-year electrical engineering course under Silvanus P. Thompson.

This was followed by two years' practical training with the British Westinghouse Co.

In 1905 he joined Mather and Platt Ltd., Manchester, and in 1909 was transferred to London. Here he became a keen member of the London Scottish Volunteers.

While in Manchester he married Agnes Stewart Coubrough, the daughter of Antony Sykes Coubrough of Blanefield.

In 1913 he went to Buenos Aires to take up an appointment as Manager and Chief Engineer for Mather and Platt, but in 1915 returned to England, at his own expense, to do war service, first at Gretna Green and then, with a commission in the Royal Engineers, in Palestine and elsewhere in the Middle East.

With the 1914-18 War over, he founded an agency for British engineering firms in Shanghai and then, in 1923, became Chief Engineer and Manager at Shanghai for Callender's Cable and Construction Co. in China. Stormy times for China lay ahead, and he had stirring adventures during the Civil War in 1926.

Next came a great deal of travelling in the interior, often with his wife as his companion. After her death in 1931, his daughter took her mother's place and made many journeys with him in parts of China little known to Europeans.

In 1931, when North and South China were at war, he served in the Scottish unit of the Shanghai Volunteer Corps to protect the boundaries of the settlement from turmoil. Later came more travelling up the rivers, in which he supervised the installation of many submarine-cable river-crossings.

In 1936 he became a partner in the firm of Marden and Co., and lived on a houseboat on the Whangpoo, until the Sino-Japanese War forced him to leave the river.

About 1941 he ran a camp-farm, largely for indigent Europeans, many of them old Scouts and Rovers (he was a Commissioner of Boy Scouts in Shanghai), bicycling to the office every day, ten miles each way. He was later arrested by the Japanese, along with other prominent Europeans, but was well treated, though of course poorly fed. He was interned at Haiphong from 1942 until 1946, and then transferred to Peking in a wired-in cattle truck on a journey lasting three days and nights.

After peace returned, his business was re-opened and he was most hospitably entertained by his many old Chinese friends, for whom he had great affection. He became Master of his Masonic Lodge, and was awarded the Silver Wolf of the Boy Scouts. He was also a Rotarian.

In 1949 he went sick and left China for good, retiring to New Zealand to be near his daughter, who was living there.

Some years later he returned to England, and afterwards died in Malta.

All his life he was a most gregarious man, with a real appreciation of his fellow-mortals, of whatever race or creed. He loved China wholeheartedly and gave her of his best. He was full of life and energy. To see Howard Gordon dancing, with his head thrown well back and enjoying every minute of it, was a thing never to be forgotten, and many regret the passing of this tall handsome Scot, with his wavy hair and his bright challenging eye.

Mr. Gordon joined The Institution as a Student in 1902 and was elected an Associate Member in 1907 and a Member in 1934


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