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James Dunn

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James Dunn (1838-1912)


1912 Obituary [1]

JAMES DUNN was born on 6th March 1838.

At fourteen years of age, after having been trained in a private school and technical classes at Chatham, he entered upon his apprenticeship at the Chatham Dockyard. From this time onwards, covering a period of almost sixty years, he has taken a part of progressive responsibility in the development of the armoured warship.

On the completion of his apprenticeship he spent a year in the drawing office at Chatham, and then he was promoted in 1860 to a draughtsmanship in the Constructive Department of the Admiralty, continuing in this position until 1867, when he went to the Clyde as an overseer of one of the earliest of the ironclads built by contract.

In 1869 he became chief draughtsman at the Admiralty; in 1874, assistant constructor; in 1879, constructor; in 1880, a member of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors; and in 1894, Senior Constructor and Assistant Director of Naval Construction.

In addition to the strenuous work he carried out, his services were frequently called upon in connection with many Government Inquiries.

In 1875 be was requested by the Admiralty to survey many merchant ships, with a view to their selection to act as cruisers in time of war.

In 1884 he was requisitioned by the War Office to supervise the preparation of the vessels to proceed to the relief of Gordon at Khartoum. He acted as the naval construction adviser to the War Office throughout the whole period, and three successive Secretaries of State for War especially thanked him for his services.

In 1885, when the first Load-Line Committee was appointed, he was again the representative of the Admiralty, and thirteen years later, when a further committee was appointed by the Board of Trade to revise the load-lines, Mr. Dunn, although he had retired from the Government service, was asked again to serve on the Committee.

His services at the Admiralty, notably when acting as Director of Naval Construction in the absence, through ill-health, of Sir William White, led to the passing of a general minute on the occasion of his retirement, and in this public acknowledgment was made of the "zeal and ability displayed by him in the conduct of his important duties."

In 1897 he retired from the Admiralty to join the Board of Messrs. Vickers, Sons and Maxim, who had purchased works at Barrow-in-Furness, and had begun not only the construction of guns and armour, but of ships, propelling machinery, and ordnance machinery of all types. He organized the department and staff of designers, and although he was never a resident in Barrow, he was closely identified with the works.

He retired from the directorate a few months before his death, but still continued his interest in naval architecture. On the occasion of the Summer Meeting of this Institution at Barrow in 1901 he read a Paper on "The Arrangement and Equipment of Shipbuilding Works," in which was given much of the results of his observation and experience.

He held a high position in the Engineering Employers' Federation, and his tact and discrimination enabled him to render valuable services in settling differences between the employers and the workmen. He was a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Shipwrights, and a Vice-President of the Institution of Naval Architects.

His death took place suddenly at York, on 17th July 1912, in his seventy-fifth year. He became a Member of this Institution in 1901.


1912 Obituary [2]

'history of Mr. Dunn's work at the Admiralty'



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