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British Industrial History

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James Hay Thow

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James Hay Thow (c1868-1926) of the Post Office

1926 Obituary [1]

JAMES HAY THOW died in his fifty-ninth year on the 22nd April, 1926, after a short illness. He entered the Post Office Engineering Department as a telegraphist at Glasgow in October, 1884, and was transferred in March, 1892, to the engineering branch, in which department he passed through the grades of junior clerk, second-class clerk, and first-class clerk prior to 1897 when he became a second-class engineer.

In 1902 he came to London as a first-class engineer in the (then) South Metropolitan District, and took charge of the Ealing Exchange area when the Ealing Exchange was opened in 1904.

After some years in charge of the Western Exchange Section he was engaged for a short time in the Technical Section of the Superintending Engineer's Office, and was then transferred to the Central Telegraph Office Section. In this Section he took a very active interest in the Dudley pneumatic tube (continuous suction, low vacuum) system, and made many attempts to solve some of the difficulties inherent in the street tube system in London, but his experiments came to a close on his promotion to Assistant Superintending Engineer in the South Midland District, with headquarters at Reading.

During the war, he took special charge of the installation and maintenance of works in connection with air defence in the South Midland District, with headquarters at Reading.

After the war extensive underground works, including the South Midland District portion of the London-Bristol, London-Southampton, and a number of the London toll cables, were mainly under his control. In 1922 he was transferred to the London Engineering District where he dealt more particularly with telegraph matters, buildings, and the technical training of the minor staff. His interests and hobbies were many. At Ealing he was well known in local circles and for many years was a member of the choir of the Parish Church.

On his return to London from Reading he lived at Tulse Hill and became a member of the church choir there. In all, his services as a chorister extended to 50 years. Mr. Thow was a very capable amateur mechanic and was skilled in the use of tools. He was also expert in cabinet making and wood working, and his work would be creditable to a professional craftsman. He possessed an exceptionally bright and cheerful personality, and was popular with all grades of the staff. He was a devoted husband and father, and those who knew him intimately mourn the loss of a sincere friend. An indication of the love and respect of those with whom he came in contact is contained in the fact that upwards of 200 letters of condolence were received by his family.

He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1922.

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