Death By Goods Train


One hundred years ago, in the 29th September 1912 issue of The Engineer, is this unusual obituary. That of an actual engineer, a shipbuilder, smashed to death, aged 56 in his motor car by a goods train. Nasty.

CLEMENT MACKROW.

IT is with very great regret that we have to record the death of Mr. Clement Mackrow, who was for so many years been connected with the Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Company, Limited. It appears that on Monday evening last Mr. Mackrow was leaving the company’s works in his motor car alone. While passing over a level crossing of the Great Eastern Railway at Canning Town his car was crashed into by a goods train which was being shunted, and the unfortunate gentleman was killed instantaneously, his body being terribly mutilated — a lamentably sad ending to a busy and useful life. The whole of Mr. Mackrow’s business career was spent with the Thames Ironworks Company. Following in the footsteps of a distinguished father — the late Mr. G. C. Mackrow — Mr. Clement Mackrow devoted the whole of his energies to the science of shipbuilding, and he achieved marked success. At an early age he entered the drawing-office of the company, working in that position under the immediate supervision of his father. He passed on to the mould loft and the various other departments of the works, and, though we believe there was never an actual apprenticeship, it can be said that he served his time at the works. For years father and son laboured side by side with one aim in view, the building of first-class ships and the keeping of their company in the foremost ranks of shipbuilding undertakings. As a sidelight on the character of Mackrow, the younger, we would instance the production of his “Naval Architect’s, Shipbuilder’s, and Marine Engineer’s Pocket-book,” which is now in its tenth edition and is a standard work of its kind. At the early age of eighteen he had found, as had many others before him, the want of a pocket-book which contained within two covers all the ordinary formulæ, rules, and tables that the shipbuilder requires in following his vocation. The data were in existence, but were scattered through a large number of books, and even some of the most commonly used formulæ necessitated tiresome searches and occasioned great waste of time. So the boy – he was but little more – set himself the task of collecting all the available information and of arranging it in a readily accessible form as a small pocket-book. In the preface to the first edition he modestly disclaims originality for any of the material he had brought together, yet, as a fact, he had presented much of it in such new and more readily understood form that he might well have claimed more credit than he did. The compilation of the book occupied the leisure time of four years, so that at the age of twenty-two he was the author of a book which had an immediate sale.

The book is still available from Amazon, sort of, but they aren’t terribly enthusiastic about its freedom from typographical errors and the like. It’s in its twelfth edition and is in any case out of copyright and freely available from the Internet Archive (but has not been adequately re-edited into any kind of modern shape).

He was born in Poplar in 1855, the son of Naval Architect George Colby Mackrow and Mary Maria Gosling. He had two elder brothers, George Frank and Henry James, also in the Naval Architect line – all whilst still in their teens. He had two younger sisters, Marian and Florence. In 1878, before he published his book, he’d married Mary Houghton Whiteley. But in the 32 years of marriages as noted in the 1911 census, there’d been no children. At that time, Marion, his also as yet unmarried sister, was living with them (along with a couple of servants, Edith and Emily) at Oaklands Grove Hill Woodford, in Walthamstow.

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