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British Industrial History

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George Johnson

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George Johnson (1869-1947)

1949 Obituary [1]

"Sir GEORGE JOHNSON, whose death occurred in July 1947, had spent the whole of his long engineering career in South Africa.

He was born in 1869 and after receiving some instruction at a school of electrical engineering and taking a course of work shop practice at King's College, London, proceeded in 1891 to the Transvaal, where he was employed by Messrs. Crompton and Company on structural work for the Pretoria Lighting Co. In the following year he took over the management of a branch at Pretoria for Mr. J. Hubert Davies, electrical and mechanical engineer, and later became his personal assistant at Johannesburg.

In 1897 he entered Rhodesia and in partnership with Mr. H. C. Fletcher, a member of the Institution, established the firm of Messrs. Johnson and Fletcher, electrical and mechanical engineers, with headquarters at Bulawayo. He was personally responsible for the first A.C. generating plant in the country and the firm erected the first cyanide plant for the extraction of gold. In course of time the business enlarged its activities considerably with branches at Salisbury, Beira, Umtali, and other places. Sir George had a long record of public service, the numerous positions he held including those of President of the Bulawayo Chamber of Commerce for twenty years and the chairmanship of the Defence Commission. He was appointed a member of the official delegation to the Union of South Africa which was sent in 1922 to discuss the terms of a proposed federation of the two countries. He was also keenly interested in technical education, being chairman of the Bulawayo Technical School from 1927 up to the time of his death.

In 1935 he took the chair of the Customs Tariff Commission and for his services to his country he was knighted in 1936. Sir George had been an Associate Member of the Institution for fifty years, having been elected in 1897. He was made a Justice of the Peace in 1923."

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