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Robert English

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Robert English (1874-1934)

1934 Obituary [1]

ROBERT ENGLISH devoted the whole of his career to gas engineering and its allied industries, particularly in New Zealand.

He was born in 1874 and received his technical education at the Polytechnic, Regent Street, London.

In 1892 he entered the Beckton works of the Gas Light and Coke Company as an apprentice and remained with the firm until 1899; during the latter part of this period he was engaged on research work in connexion with various systems of retorts, and different oil-gas processes, in addition to work on photometric standards.

He was then appointed to be chief assistant engineer and chief chemist to the Crystal Palace District Gas Company, afterwards the South Suburban Gas Company, and held the position until 1903. During this time he experimented with blue water-gas mixed with coal gas, and was engaged as an expert in the House of Commons and the House of Lords in connexion with Bills relating to the reduction of the standard of light and the abolition of the sulphur clauses.

He then went to New Zealand as chief engineer to the Christchurch Gas Company, and held this position for twenty-one years. In this capacity he was responsible for the rebuilding and reorganization of the whole of the works, including a blue water-gas plant of 600,000 cu. ft. and a retort house of 1,500,000 cu. ft. daily capacity. He installed electrically driven charging and discharging machines, coal elevators, and coke conveyers, and also opened a fire-clay mine and manufactured all fire-clay goods required for new settings and retort house repair work.

Mr. English also acted as consulting engineer to a large number of gas undertakings in Tasmania and New Zealand, including those of Dunedin and Hobart; the former works, after being completely reorganized and greatly extended according to his plans and specifications, produced the cheapest gas in New Zealand.

In 1925 Mr. English returned to England and during the remainder of his life he investigated the distillation of small bituminous coal, with the object of establishing such an industry in New Zealand.

His death occurred on 24th May 1934.

He had been an Associate Member of the Institution since 1905.

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