Robert Simon Tate was educated at Durham University and obtained a BSc (Mining) Degree in 1904. He served as an apprentice at Walter Scott’s Collieries, County Durham. He became Assistant Chief Mining Engineer of Walter Scott Ltd between 1908 and 1915 and Chief Mining Engineer between 1918 and 1935. Tate was also manager of Black Boy Colliery from 1906 to 1908 and manager of St. Hilda Colliery from 1908 and 1915.
Tate was elected as a member of the North of England Institute for Mining and Mechanical Engineers in 1901 as a student and went through various stages to member, member of Council, and Vice-President. He was President of the Institute from 1934 to 1935.
Tate served on various committees in particular the Support of Workings in Mines Committee. The main part of his professional work was with the East Hetton Collieries Ltd where he was agent for many years.
At the time of his death (14th of July 1944), Tate was Officer Commanding of the 12th Durham Battalion of the Home Guard and was Deputy-Chairman of the Castle Eden Bench. He was also a former member of the Durham County Council.