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British Industrial History

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Robert Low

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Robert Low (1838-1906)

Laboratory Department, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich. See Woolwich Arsenal

1906 Obituary [1]

ROBERT Low was born in Aberdeen on 25th June 1838, but lived in France, where his father was an engineer, until the revolution of 1848.

He commenced his engineering training at his uncle's works at Woolwich, then went to the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company's Works at Southampton, and completed his apprenticeship at the Northam Iron Works, Southampton.

In 1858 he entered the Royal Laboratory, Woolwich, as draughtsman, and his first work was to design machinery for bullet-making. Promotion followed rapidly; and in 1871 he was the engineering expert of the committee sent to Fiume to receive from Mr. Robert Whitehead the secret design of his torpedo.

The torpedo department at Woolwich was then commenced and developed by him, and by 1877 his various inventions and improvements had increased the speed of the torpedo from about 9 knots to over 27 knots. For this he received an official recognition. Previously he had introduced to the Admiralty an apparatus for projecting torpedoes from the broadside of a ship whilst under steam.

In 1885 he was severely wounded by the bursting of a 6-inch breech-loading shell.

Later in the same year be was appointed manager of the Royal Laboratory. This position he resigned in 1888 to join the Projectile Co. He was a prolific inventor, and most of his patents and improvements pertained to war stores and machinery for their manufacture.

His death took place at Plumstead on 28th October 1906, at the age of sixty-eight.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1885.

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