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John William Cole

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John William Cole (1840-1891)

of Elm Cottage, Osmond Terrace, Norwood, Adelaide, South Australia

1891 Obituary [1]

JOHN WILLIAM COLE was born at Hetton in the county of Durham on 30th April 1840.

He served his apprenticeship in the fitting shops of the Thornley Coal Co. at their large works near Hartlepool, where he acquired a good practical knowledge of winding, pumping, and underground hauling engines, besides locomotives, although the latter were of a primitive kind, including one engine with vertical cylinders.

On the completion of his apprenticeship about 1858, he obtained an engagement as a journeyman in the locomotive works of the North Eastern Railway, York.

In 1860 he went to Madras in the service of the Madras Railway, and was soon appointed resident agent and engineer at the Beypore terminus, having charge of a hundred miles of line.

After six years of Indian service he returned to England, and became out-door manager to Messrs. Bells Goodman and Co., afterwards Bells Lightfoot and Co., with whom he remained till about 1880.

One of the first works on which he was here engaged was to take down an old small blast-furnace at Walker-on-Tyne, and remodel and rebuild it on a larger scale. Other works consisted in the erection and repair of chemical plant so extensively in use on the Tyne, besides engines and boilers for the coal and iron industries of the district. During this time he brought out a coal screen. which may be described as a Juckes furnace with screening spaces between the bars.

At the end of 1880 he commenced business in London, and erected near Beckton the Horse Shoe Works, for manufacturing an invention which he had bought in America for the company owning the works. He was also concerned in the erection of machinery for chemical and manure manufactories on the Thames; and completely remodelled the machinery and appliances of a brewery near Coventry.

In August 1882 he emigrated to South Australia, where, after having acquainted himself with surveying, levelling, and drawing, he was appointed to make a comprehensive survey of a district near Adelaide, for the supply of water to that city. The manner in which he carried out this work led to his being engaged by the Honourable James Martin as manager of his large engineering works, Phoenix Foundry, Gawler, where he was occupied for seven or eight years in the production of large hauling engines for mines, bridge and boiler work, and the arrangements for building forty-two locomotives for colonial railways.

The anxiety incident to the latter undertaking in a distant colony was doubtless what brought on softening of the brain, which resulted in his death on 10th February 1891 at Gawler, at the age of fifty.

In 1890 he left Phoenix Foundry, and obtained the appointment of inspector of machinery at the silver-lead mines of the Broken Hill Proprietary.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1878.

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