1919-20: Thomas Clarkson

1919-20: Thomas Clarkson

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Biography Portrait by Elliott & Fry.

1934 Obituary:
Clarkson was trained as a metallurgist, but later turned his attention to steam-propelled road vehicles, and developed the well known thimble-tube boiler, which is now used in waste heat recovery from marine oil engines in the largest motor vessels.

He was born in 1864 and received his education at Owens College, Manchester. He served as an apprentice from 1877 to 1884 with Messrs. T. Larmuth and Company of Salford, manufacturers of air compressors and mining equipment.

In 1885 he obtained the Senior Whitworth Scholarship and a National Science Scholarship, and became a student at the Royal School of Mines, where he was later made an assistant in the metallurgical laboratory.

In 1888 he was appointed demonstrator of metallurgy at King's College, London, and three years later became engineer to the Clarkson-Stanfield Concentrator Company. He then began his development of the steam road vehicle, and in 1897 he became managing director of the Clarkson-Capel Steam Car Syndicate.

Six years later he took up a similar position with Messrs. Clarkson, and in 1909 founded the National Steam Car Company, holding the posts of managing director and engineer-in-chief. The firm ran a fleet of steam omnibuses in the London district; the vehicles were fitted with paraffin-fired boilers, generating steam at 300 lb. per sq. in., which was superheated to 800 deg. F. and supplied to a small twin- cylinder condensing engine.

Later Mr. Clarkson developed a commercial steam vehicle with the semi-flash thimble-tube boiler which now forms an important part of the plant on motor vessels; the vehicle had a great influence on the subsequent design of steam lorries. He was the author of several papers on steam vehicles as well as metallurgical subjects, including "Steam as a Motive Power for Public Service Vehicles," which he read before the Institution in 1906. He attended the Canadian Summer Meeting of the Institution in 1932 and was to have given a lecture thereon at Hastings on 3rd April 1933, the day on which his death occurred.

He had been a Member of the Institution since 1891 and was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.