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British Industrial History

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Arthur John Spencer

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Arthur John Spencer (1879-1934) of the Science Museum

1934 Obituary [1]

ARTHUR JOHN SPENCER had been attached to the Science Museum, South Kensington for thirty-four years, and was responsible for the design and construction of a large number of new models and examples of mechanical devices. His work in the Science Museum was largely concerned with the development of the collections relating to marine engineering and aeronautics.

He was born in Portsmouth in 1879 and received his technical education at the Municipal Technical School, Portsmouth, and at the Royal Dockyard School.

In 1894 he entered the Royal Dockyard as an apprentice and served until 1899, in which year he obtained a National Scholarship, tenable for three years, at the Royal College of Science, London. In the same year he also took first place in the list of Whitworth Exhibitioners. Whilst at the Royal College of Science he obtained a Royal Scholarship, but resigned this in 1900 on being appointed assistant in the Machinery and Inventions Division of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

In 1908 the division into the Science Museum and the Victoria and Albert Museum took place, and Mr. Spencer was automatically drafted to the former institution, in which he was promoted to first-class assistant in 1913.

From 1915 to 1919 he was lent to the Ministry of Munitions, where he acted first as assistant director of the Outside Engineering Branch in the Trench Warfare Department, in which capacity he was responsible for the manufacture and inspection of all trench warfare supplies, and later as assistant controller in the Disposals Board for whom he took charge of the disposal of ferrous material.

On his return to the Science Museum he was employed in the Industrial Engineering Division, to which he was appointed deputy keeper in 1926, a post which he held until his death on 8th June 1934.

He was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1907 and was transferred to Membership in 1921.

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