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William Richard Sumption Jones

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William Richard Sumption Jones (1840-1908)

of the Rajputana State Railway, Ajmeer, India: (or care of Messrs. Henry S. King and Co., 45 Pall Mall, London, S.W.)

1908 Obituary [1]

WILLIAM RICHARD SUMPTION JONES was born at Newport, Mon., in 1840, and was educated at a private school.

Having served his apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer, he entered in 1860 the employment of Messrs. Joseph Wright and Co., railway-coach builders of Birmingham, and remained with them till 1866, when he became works manager of the Lancaster Railway-Carriage and Wagon Co.

He, however, only remained there a few months, as in 1867 he was selected by the Secretary of State for India to fill the appointment of deputy superintendent of the government workshops at Rurki in the United Province of Agra and Oudh (then known as the North West Provinces). At about that time it had been intended to start building rolling-stock in those workshops for provincial light railways then projected, but not carried out until several years later; and this was the reason for his appointment.

When, six years later, the term of his agreement expired, he was retained and was graded as an executive engineer of the Indian Public Works Department. He was stationed at Narora in the same province, and the site of the great dam and headworks of the Lower Ganges Canal, then under construction, where he was put in charge of the Workshops division, and carried out the construction of all the heavy ironwork used in the regulating machinery there installed.

He remained in this appointment until the completion of the headworks, when, in April 1879, he was transferred to the Indian State Railways establishment, and posted to the Rajputana State Railway, as Deputy Locomotive and Carriage Superintendent, especially to take charge of the completion and equipment of the Central Workshops at Ajmir.

In 1880 he was promoted to the post of Carriage and Wagon Superintendent of the same railway, which by absorption of other lines in 1883 became the Rajputana-Malwa State Railway, and he remained in the same appointment until his retirement in 1893. During his time there the railway increased in length from about 500 miles to 1,500 miles, for which increase he built all the rolling-stock, reducing the tare and increasing the load of the wagons employed. He invented and introduced a system of flexible central buffers and screw-couplers, which was adopted by the Indian Government and made compulsory on all the railways of 3-foot 3 3/8-inch gauge.

He was a clever mechanical engineer, strong administrator, able financier, and scientific accountant in workshop expenditure. At the request of the Public Works Department, he revised and recast the whole of the regulations in the P.D.W. code relating to railway expenditure and accounts; and with minor improvements these regulations are still in force.

In 1893 he returned to England and settled down in London, where he occupied himself in designing, experimenting, and patenting further improvements in his flexible buffers and automatic couplers, including one for the application to the ordinary hook-and-link system in use in the United Kingdom.

He however had not perfected this last invention before his health began to fail in 1904, when he was obliged to give up all work, and to leave London for residence at various health resorts in the hope of obtaining benefit from them.

After a long illness his death took place at Folkestone on 12th April 1908, in his sixty-eighth year.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1872, but his only contribution to its Proceedings were some valuable remarks and statistics on Mr. J. D. Twinberrow's Paper on "The Capacity of Railway Wagons as affecting cost of transport."

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