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British Industrial History

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Arthur Robert Thomas Woods

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Arthur Robert Thomas Woods (c1859-1947)

1947 Obituary [1]

"ARTHUR ROBERT THOMAS WOODS, whose death occurred in London on 20th February 1947 at the age of eighty-eight, was in former days well known as a distinguished marine engineer; as the general manager of an important shipping concern, and as designer of two successful fleets of vessels, he had long been a prominent figure in British shipping circles. He will be remembered not only for his engineering skill and powers of invention, but also for his passion for thoroughness; all of which contributed in no small measure to the building up and maintenance of an efficient British Mercantile Marine in the face of intense foreign competition. He was, moreover, an authority on refrigeration, of which he was one of the earliest pioneers.

On the formation, in 1917, of a cold storage research board by the Department of Scientific Research, Mr. Woods was elected a member of the engineering committee, to which he rendered valuable services by his expert advice. He received his education at Liverpool and at Trinity College, Louvain, and served his time as an indentured apprentice to Messrs. Laird Brothers, of Birkenhead (now Messrs. Cammell Laird and Company, Ltd.), from 1875 to 1880. He was then some years at sea as a marine engineer, and obtained his Board of Trade First-Class Certificate. Subsequently he went to Brazil to become a general engineer to the Bahia Steam Navigation Co. It was, however, in 1896 that he began his long association with Messrs. H. and W. Nelson, Ltd., managing owners of the Nelson Steam Navigation Co, of which he became general superintendent and finally general manager.

In 1899 he designed ten ships of about 7,000 tons gross for the frozen meat trade, and later he was responsible for the design of five motor liners of 14,000 tons, to carry passengers and a large amount of chilled meat. Later the Nelson Line was absorbed by the Royal Mail Steam Packet Co, which in turn was merged in Royal Mail Lines, Ltd. Mr. Woods, who had been a director of the Nelson Steam Navigation Co, joined the board of the combined fleets, from which he retired in due course owing to advancing years.

He had been a Member of the Institution for half a century, having been elected in 1897. He was also a Member of the Institution of Naval Architects, and had served as president of the British Association of Refrigeration in 1933. In addition he was a liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, becoming second master in 1939."

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