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British Industrial History

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John Ray Cowell

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John Ray Cowell (1863-1938)

1938 Obituary [1]

JOHN RAY COWELL was for many years managing director of the mining and general engineering firm of Messrs. Blanc and Company, Ltd., of Johannesburg. He was born in Saffron Walden, Essex, in 1863, and served his apprenticeship from 1881 to 1885 in the Ipswich works of Messrs. E. R. and F. Turner.

After further experience as a marine-engine fitter at the Millwall Docks and at Messrs. David Rowan's, Glasgow, he went to sea in 1886 as an engineer in vessels of the Monarch Line, and by 1892 he had become chief engineer, and had gained an Extra First-Class Board of Trade Certificate. He then rejoined Messrs. Turner as a draughtsman in their London office, but later became a partner with Mr. W. Phillips, M.I.Mech.E., consulting engineer, of London and Southampton. In 1894 he left for the Transvaal and after a brief period as assistant works manager at the Austral Iron Works, Johannesburg, he was appointed engineer and general manager of the Johannesburg Town Lighting Department, with responsibility for both gas and electric lighting. He held this position throughout the South African War, but in 1902 he joined Messrs. Blanc, with whom he was associated for the remainder of his career.

His death occurred at Rooderoodsloot, near Potgietersrust, on 18th April 1938. Mr. Cowell was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1893 and was transferred to Membership in 1897. He was also a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

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