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James Thomas Lea (c1873-1951)
1953 Obituary 
JAMES THOMAS LEA was chairman and managing director of Gilbert Hamer and Company, Ltd., Durban, structural, mechanical, and marine engineers, and had been associated with the company in that capacity from 1912 until his death, which occurred on 9th November 1951 in his seventy-ninth year.
He received his theoretical training in engineering at technical schools in Bolton and Salford and served a seven-year apprenticeship with Downson Taylor and Company, Ltd., on the completion of which, in 1895, he joined the staff of Mather and Platt, Ltd., Manchester, as a junior draughtsman. He was made assistant manager of the pump department in 1898 and four years later became manager of the tank and erection department.
In 1904 he went to South Africa on taking over the duties of engineer and manager of the Natal branch for Mather and Platt, Ltd.
After holding this position for eight years he began his long connexion with Gilbert Hamer and Company, Ltd., with the joint appointment of general manager and managing director. In this capacity he was closely concerned with the direction of the company's activities, which chiefly consisted of the manufacture of sugar machinery, coal screening plant, and steel structures.
Mr. Lea was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1912 and transferred to Membership in 1925. He had also served as president of the Natal Institution of Engineers in 1920.