King, James Foster

SUBJECT AREA: Ports and shipping
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b. 9 May 1862 Erskine, Scotland
d. 11 August 1947 Glasgow, Scotland
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Scottish naval architect and classification society manager who made a significant contribution to the safety of shipping.
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King was educated at the High School of Glasgow, and then served an apprenticeship with the Port Glasgow shipyard of Russell \& Co. This was followed by experience in drawing offices in Port Glasgow, Hull and finally in Belfast, where he was responsible for the separate White Star Line drawing office of Harland \& Wolff Ltd, which was then producing the plans for the Atlantic passenger liners Majestic and Teutonic. Following certain unpopular government shipping enactments in 1890, a protest from shipbuilders and shipowners in Ireland, Liverpool and the West of Scotland led to the founding of a new classification society to compete against Lloyd's Register of Shipping. It became known as the British Corporation Register and had headquarters in Glasgow. King was recruited to the staff and by 1903 had become Chief Surveyor, a position he held until his retirement thirty-seven years later. By then the Register was a world leader, with hundreds of thousands of tons of shipping on its books; it acted as consultant to many governments and international agencies. Throughout his working life, King did everything in his power to quantify the risks and problems of ship operation: his contribution to the Load Lines Convention of 1929 was typical, and few major enactments in shipping were designed without his approval. During the inter-war period the performance of the British Corporation outshone that of all rivals, for which King deserved full credit. His especial understanding was for steel structures, and in this respect he ensured that the British Corporation enabled owners to build ships of strengths equal to any others despite using up to 10 per cent less steel within the structure. In 1949 Lloyd's Register of Shipping and the British Corporation merged to form the largest and most influential ship classification society in the world.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
CBE 1920. Honorary Member, Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders in Scotland 1941; North East Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders (Newcastle) 1943; British Corporation 1940. Honorary Vice-President, Institution of Naval Architects.
Further Reading
G.Blake, 1960, Lloyd's Register of Shipping 1760–1960, London: Lloyd's Register. F.M.Walker, 1984, Song of the Clyde. A History of Clyde Shipbuiding, Cambridge: PSL. 1947, The British Corporation Register of Shipping and Aircraft 1890–1947, An
Illustrated Record, 1947, Glasgow.
1946, The British Corporation Register. The War Years in Retrospect, 1956, Glasgow.
FMW

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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