Sir Arthur John Griffiths Smout died suddenly on 21st February, 1961, in hospital in Birmingham, at the age of 72.

Sir Arthur was educated at King Edward VI High School, Birmingham, and from 1904 attended day and evening courses in metallurgy and chemistry at the Birmingham Municipal Technical School and studied additional subjects privately. He continued his part-time study at Birmingham University, gaining the full technological certificate, with honours, of City and Guilds of London in 1909, and being awarded the King’s Prize in 1908 and the Smith Memorial Prize in 1910.

He joined Elliott’s Metal Co., Ltd., as a student apprentice in 1905, working as assistant to the analytical chemist and metallurgist and becoming in 1909 first assistant metallurgical chemist and in 1912 assistant metallurgist. From the latter part of 1913 he was engaged on research work on a new process extensively used during the war by the Admiralty, and in 1914 he was metallurgist in charge of the foundry.

His work at Elliott’s being regarded as war work, his earlier application to join H.M. Forces was refused, but he continued as Sgt.-Major, Birmingham University O.T.C., in December, 1916, being appointed 2nd Lt. 1st CBR War R, and promoted full lieutenant in 1917. In 1915 he was placed in full control of the new cartridge strip metal rolling plant erected near the Elliott’s Metal Co. works, and later of a large waste metal recovery plant.

In June, 1919, Sir Arthur was appointed works manager to Wm. Cooper and Goode, Ltd., Birmingham, an amalgamated firm controlled by Elliott’s, and was later works manager of all its various factories and eventually production director to the Elliott Group. On the merging of the Group with I.C.I. Metals, Ltd., in 1928, he was at first deputy production manager and shortly afterwards production manager, in 1932 joining the board of the metals group and subsequently becoming joint managing director. In 1936 he was appointed chairman of I.C.I. Metals, Ltd., now known as Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd., Metals Division. He joined the main board of I.C.I. in 1944, with responsibility for their metal and ammunition interests. In 1951 he also became responsible for the Nobel Division. He retired from I.C.I. in 1953. He subsequently became Chairman of Murex, Ltd., and of Murex Welding Processes, Ltd., and had also been a director of Pyrotenax, Ltd., since 1937. From 1955 Sir Arthur had been farming near Evesham, Worcestershire.

During the 1939-45 war Sir Arthur held with distinction the position of Director-General of Small Arms Production and later Director-General of Ammunition Production, Ministry of Supply, for which he was knighted in 1946.

Sir Arthur joined the Institution as a Student in 1908, was transferred to Associate Membership in 1914 and to full Membership in 1920. He served as a Member of Council during the periods 1945-46 and 1947-54, holding office as Vice-President from 1948 to 1951. He was chairman of the committee for the Institution’s first symposium held in 1949 on the refining of non-ferrous metals, and in 1953 led a deputation from the Institution to the Minister of Materials making specific representations to the Government on assistance in resuscitating metalliferous mining in the United Kingdom.

A Fellow and Past-President of the Institute of Metals (1948-50), Sir Arthur was also a Fellow of the Royal Institute of Chemistry and of the Institution of Metallurgists and associate of the College of Technology, Birmingham. He had been a Justice of the Peace of the City of Birmingham since February, 1942, and president of the Chamber of Commerce in 1951. He was a Life-Governor and Member of Council of the University of Birmingham, and in 1954 the degree of L.L.D., honoris causa, of the University of Wales was conferred on him in recognition of the work he had done for industry in the Swansea area and his contribution to technological education. He was the first recipient of the recently established Insignia Award of the City and Guilds of London Institute.

Mr. W.A.C. Newman writes: I knew Sir Arthur Smout for many years and have been associated with others who have known him better and longer than I. The opinion of all those who worked with him, saw him at work or met him privately was that he was of the highest type of technologist, manager and director, was very human and retained a charming manner.

His principal attributes were a sound knowledge of his subject and its many varied intricacies, an ability to get to the core of a problem quickly, an uncanny sense in leading his juniors along productive paths or in guiding a committee or meeting with keenness and precision to a satisfactory conclusion or a useful compromise. He was acknowledged as a direct and agile thinker and he appreciated similar qualities in others.

During the war years, during his term as Director-General, the department was alive; and as Chairman of very many committees he had a cementing influence among diverse types of men representing varying interests — often conflicting.

He was greatly interested in education and the advancement of educational facilities over a wide field, and his interest was recognized by Swansea University in the conferment of an honorary doctorate and by the City and Guilds of London Institute in the granting to him of the first of its Insignia awards.

One of Sir Arthur’s deep regrets, which caused him great concern, was that during the periods when he was a member of the Institution’s Council his directorial duties clashed so often in date and time with the Council meetings and prevented him from attending the latter as often as he would have wished.

Vol. 71, Trans I.M.M., 1961-62, pp.46-47

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