George Percival Spooner

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Son of Charles Easton Spooner, George was born in Beddgelert on 13 June 1850 and died in London 21 January 1917. He trained as a mechanical engineer, receiving formal education at Harrow and Karlsruhe Polytechnic and was "Articled to" his father in both civil and rolling-stock engineering and apprenticed at Boston Lodge. He was a keen photographer, remembered for monopolizing the Bron y Garth bathroom.[1] Percy designed the FR locomotives James Spooner (named after his grandfather) and Merddin Emrys. His design was improved to create Livingston Thompson. He also designed the bogie carriages and guards vans of the 1870s. He was appointed Engineer 1872 and Locomotive Superintendent in 1879.

He was sent to India in 1880 in disgrace after an affair with one of the servants, Eleanor Davies. They had a daughter Kate Ellen (Kitty) in 1878. In India he became Assistant District Engineer and Locomotive Superintendent on the Indian State Railway, though from surviving drawings he appears to have continued design work for the FR. He returned to England in 1894 and occupied himself with the construction of scientific instruments and, in collaboration with Tom Casson (brother of Randal and father of Lewis, the actor), the improvement of small pipe organs. With the Cassons he sank most of his savings in the Positive Organ Company, but although the firm made many organs which survive and are notable for their ingenious devices, especially a bottom-note lock-and-cancel feature simulating a pedal board, it was not a financial success. He lived with Kitty and family and later in Islington. In the 1914 war he became a Sergeant in the Special Constabulary at Kings Cross. D H Wilson suggests his death was tragic. A high explosive works at Silvertown blew up on 10th January 1917 and Percy left the house to view the huge fire that followed. In his absence burglars ransacked the house of all the Spooner silver and heirlooms from Bron y Garth and his big coin collection. The shock was such that he suffered a stroke and died two days later. The model Topsy was at Islington and passed to his family. He was a fulfilled and much-loved man and hardly (except in the narrowest conventional sense of cash and position) the failure he has sometimes been painted. Nothing further is known about his wife who does not appear to have returned from India with him although by the 1901 census he is a widower.

  1. ^ Wilson D H (1977) Spooners up to Date, FRM No. 77, page 23.


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