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British Industrial History

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Thomas Bunt

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Thomas Bunt (c1858-1941)

1942 Obituary [1]

THOMAS BUNT served six years' apprenticeship in the locomotive works of the Cornwall Minerals Railway (now incorporated with the Great Western Railway) at Par, Cornwall, and at the marine engineering works of Messrs. Seaward and Company at Millwall. He was then employed in the heavy erecting shops of Messrs. Maudslay, Sons, and Field, Westminster Bridge Road, and after fifteen months with that firm, he became draughtsman to Messrs. Young and Son at Blackwall, and was later chief draughtsman to Messrs. Shuttleworth, Chapman and Company, Ltd., Erith, Kent.

In 1884 he went to Shanghai to take up the appointment of superintendent of the marine engineering department of the Kiangnan Arsenal, under the Chinese Government. While occupying that position, he established steelworks for the manufacture of guns and rifles, and also plate and bar rolling mills. During 1891, a locomotive for drawing heavy guns from the factory to the proof ground was built to his designs and entirely completed by native workmen. On his return to England in 1904, after 20 years of this pioneer work in China, he continued to practice as consulting engineer to the Hanyang Iron and Steel Works, Hankow, advising on the establishment of new plant, blast and steel furnaces, and rolling mills.

Mr. Bunt, whose death at the age of 83 years occurred on 4th July 1941, was elected a Member of the Institution as far back as 1884. He was created a Mandarin, with the rank of district magistrate, and decorated by the Emperor of China with the Imperial Order of the Double Dragon. In recent years Mr. Bunt presented the Institution with an ornamented cast iron kettle, which has been preserved in the Library as an outstanding example of Oriental craftsmanship, and a Japanese magic mirror, which, by a process as yet unexplained, appears to transmit light through metal.

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