On this day, 100 years ago an IMechE member was killed in action.
LESLIE STEPHEN ROBERTSON (formerly ROBINSON): 5th June
Member since 1892, proposed by John Isaac Thornycroft.
At the outbreak of war he was Secretary of the Engineering Standards Committee.
Wartime posting(s) was/were, General Staff, Director of Production at the Ministry of Munitions.
Killed on HMS ”Hampshire” en-route to Russia with Lord Kitchener.
Note: birth surname Robinson, he used Robertson.
LESLIE STEPHEN ROBERTSON (formerly ROBINSON) was born at Kotagherry, India, on 4th October 1863, being the youngest son of Sir William R. Robinson, K.C.S.I., sometime Governor of the Presidency of Madras.
He was educated in Germany and at King’s College, London, and acquired his scientific training at University College, London, under Sir Alexander B. W. Kennedy (then Professor Kennedy) from 1883 to 1885. He was one of the organizers and the first Secretary of the University College Engineering Society.
He next served two years at the works of Messrs. Denny and Co., of Dumbarton, and from 1887 to 1889 was in the drawing-office of the firm, being later appointed to superintend the Experimental Testing Department.
After some experience at sea as engineer on board the R.M.S. “Jumna,” he entered the drawing-office of Messrs. John I. Thornycroft and Co., at Chiswick. For a time he acted as works manager until he was put in charge of a large contract for the French Government at the works of the Societe Anonyme des Forges et Chantiers de la Meditermnee, at Havre. On the completion of this work he visited the United States and Cuba.
In 1892 he commenced private practice as a consulting engineer in Westminster, and six years later was joined by Mr. F. D. Outram, late R.E. Until 1898 he represented Messrs. Normand, of Havre, and had charge of their work in this country. He also acted as Secretary of the first section of the International Railway Congress held at the Imperial Institute, and accompanied the Commission on Light Railways appointed by the Cape Government.
Mr. Robertson contributed two Papers to this Institution, one in 1897 on “Mechanical Propulsion on Canals” and the other in 1898 on “Narrow-Gauge Railways.” Amongst other literary work he translated and edited the English edition of M. Bertin’s treatise on “Marine Boilers,” and delivered a course of lectures on “Water Tube Boilers” at University College, London.
In 1901 he was appointed Secretary of the Engineering Standards Committee, and he was thus brought into contact with every British engineer of eminence.
In July 1915, with the permission of that Committee, lie was appointed assistant to the Director of Production at the Ministry of Munitions, and in this position he was concerned with organizing the production of the metal components of gun-ammunition. His knowledge of the engineering capacity of the workshops of Great Britain was invaluable in the important negotiations leading to the enormous increase in the output of munitions that has been accomplished.
It was in this connection that he became a member of Lord Kitchener’s staff on the visit to Russia, and lost his life on 5th June 1916, in his fifty-third year, by the sinking of H.M.S. “Hampshire” off the Orkney Islands. For the purposes of this visit he was granted by the War Office the relative precedence of a Lieut.-Colonel.
Mr. Robertson was elected a Member of this Institution in 1892. He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, the Institution of Naval Architects, and of other scientific societies. He was chairman and director of several companies, and a Freeman of the Pattenmakers’ Company, of which he was Master in 1914.
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