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British Industrial History

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Lawson Butzkopfski Billinton

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1914. Baltic Type Tank Engine by L. Billinton.

Lawson Butzkopfski Billinton (1882-1954) the Locomotive Engineer of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway

1882 Born in Brighton the third son of Robert John Billinton. His mother was of Polish origin and his middle name Butzkopfski (sometimes spelled Boskovsky) was her family name.

He became a pupil of his father at Brighton works in January 1900. He was a fitter's apprentice from September 1900.

In February 1903 he was promoted to draughtsman, and promoted again in September 1903 to inspector of materials.

In September 1904 he became assistant foreman at New Cross.

Lawson Billinton was put in charge of all experimental work on the LBSCR's locomotives and rolling stock, including the trials of the new Marsh Atlantics.

In January 1906 Billinton was transferred to Brighton as assistant outdoor superintendent, moving back to New Cross in February 1907 and becoming district locomotive superintendent in July of that year.

The reconstruction of Brighton works under Marsh caused tremendous difficulties in maintaining and repairing the LBSCR's locomotive stock. Some major repairs and boiler changes began to be carried out at New Cross under Billinton's supervision, but this had little effect on the situation.

By 1910 about 30% of the locomotive stock was out of traffic and awaiting repair, and the number of engine failures in service increased substantially in the second half of that year, for which Marsh was held responsible by the directors of the company. Because Earle Marsh was in poor health he was given leave of absence until 30 June 1911, and Billinton was instructed to take general charge of Brighton works as Marsh's locum tenens or caretaker from 15 February 1911

After retirement he purchased a farm near Bolney in Sussex, on which he and his wife grew fruit commercially.

Billinton spent two years in Glasgow in the late 1920s as a consultant to the LMS.

Billinton died on 26 November 1954 at Lyme Regis

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