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December 17, 2014
Peter J Baxandall Condenser Microphone Papers

A file of papers recently deposited with the IET archives contained over 40 years’ worth of primarily technical notes, thoughts and ideas on the subject of the condenser microphone written by the audio and electronic engineer Peter J Baxandall. The notes cover the period from the early 1950s to the early 1990s. The condenser microphone, also known as a capacitor microphone or electrostatic microphone, was invented at Bell Laboratories in 1916 by E C Wente. Two images of a condenser microphone from amongst the Baxandall papers, probably of experimental models taken circa 1965, are shown below.




Baxandall (1921-1995), wrote a chapter on electrostatic loudspeakers for the 2nd edition of the Loudspeaker and Headphone Handbook, 1994 that is sometimes referred to as the seminal work on the subject. However, he had already gained significant attention in the early 1950s for his bass and treble circuit or tone-control circuit about which he published details in Wireless World, October 1952, and which was used in hi-fi audio systems.

Biographical Details for Peter J Baxandall

Peter Baxandall, born in 1921, was educated at Kings College School in Wimbledon before going on to study electrical engineering at Cardiff Technical College, Wales. He graduated with a BSc (Eng) in 1942.

Following graduation Peter spent two years as a radio instructor for the Fleet Air Arm before joining the Royal Signals and Radar Establishment (RSRE), based at Malvern, where he began work in the Circuit Research Division. He worked for the RSRE until his early retirement in 1971. After that Peter continued to work as an electroacoustical consultant.

Projects on which Peter worked as a consultant included; audio-frequency transformers, radio-frequency carrier microphones, powered loudspeakers, dipole and electrostatic loudspeakers, loudspeakers with motional feedback, bandbass loudspeakers, oscillators, high-speed tape-duplicating equipment, and high-precision microphone calibration methods.

Peter was closely associated with the Audio Engineering Society. He became a Fellow of the AES in 1980 and was awarded its Silver Medal in 1993 which is given in recognition of outstanding development or achievement in the field of audio engineering. Peter died in 1995 and an 'in memoriam' tribute to him was published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, vol.44 no.9, September 1996.

Collection Contents

For anyone with a technical interest in microphones there are dozens of Baxandall’s handwritten notes detailing his experiments, ideas for solving problems, and thoughts and comments on published technical literature. The note titles, written in the first half of 1965 are shown below as an illustration of the types of material to be found.

'Data from advert by International in Journal of the AES', dated January 1965.

'Circuits of transistorized rf condenser microphones', based on article in the January 1965 issue of the Journal of the AES by H J Griese.

'Thoughts re tension and diaphragm in cardioid condenser microphone', dated April 1965.

'Thoughts on what should be done about rf microphone system', dated 19 May 1965.

'Design of miniature pressure capsule', dated 9 June 1965.

'Own thoughts on cardioid capsule theory', dated 19 June 1965.

Peter’s technical notes are interspersed with correspondence with microphone manufacturers, orders for materials for his experimental equipment, and discussions with others who had an interest in the field. It is interesting that there are several notes on the subject of Reg Williamson’s condenser microphone capsule because ultimately this file of material passed to Reg Williamson upon Peter’s death – there is a letter with the deposit dated 1996 (the year after Peter’s death) in which Reg recalls the visit to Peter’s house when he picked up this file of material on condenser microphones. Reg also recalls leaving ‘a vast amount of paperwork’ which he expected to be dumped.

The Peter J Baxandall papers have now been catalogued (reference SC MSS 260) and are available to view in the IET Archives. The contents of the collection can be viewed in the IET Archives online catalogue.

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 17 December 2014 05:03 PM     Archives     Comments (0)  

December 15, 2014
Discover your engineering past at the IET Archives
Engineering history is rich and varied, full of innovation and pioneering achievements. The IET boasts some of the world's most famous electrical engineers, responsible for the creation of the telegraph, telephone and the revolution of the distribution of electrical power. At the IET Archives we are fortunate to have personal papers of individual engineers and corporate records that chart these developments. If you are interested in a particular aspect of engineering or tracing your family tree the collections within our archive can be an invaluable source.

Image of Oliver Heaviside and his family.

This blog has been written to promote the launch of our new family history leaflet. It supplements what you can find in the leaflet and on our website under the family history section.

Our heritage
The IET was founded in 1871 as the Society of Telegraph Engineers but through an amalgamation with the Institution of Incorporated Engineers in 2006 our predecessor institutions date back to 1854. The Society of Telegraph Engineers began as a learned society for those involved in the electric telegraph industry but to keep up with technological developments of the time it changed its name to the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1889. Since then the IEE amalgamated with the Institution of Radio Engineers (IERE) in 1988 and the Institution of Production Engineers (IMfgE/IProdE) in 1991.

It's a family affair
If you are researching your family history or the life of an individual we may be able to help you with some details concerning their profession. Although the term 'electrical engineer' in the nineteenth century did not denote affiliation with a professional organisation if you see the post nominal MIEE (Member), AMIEE (Associate Member), or FIEE (Fellow) then they were members of the IEE.

Our membership application forms from 1871-1901 can help fill in the gaps about an individual's employment, education and social circles. The printed lists of members from 1871-1997 can trace geographical movement as well as mobility through the membership categories. It is now possible to browse a list of members from 1871-1930 online, view the full record and download an image of the original thanks to a partnership with

Part of this project was to digitise over 170,000 electrical engineer records. Records were selected and scanned on site at Savoy Place, London, using the most current scanning technology to produce high quality images. These are now fully searchable by name, date of birth, location and date of application. For more information on how to access these records please visit our family history section of our website

Other records to help further your study
If the person you are researching was not a member of our Institution we can still help by looking through the Electrical Trades Directory (known as the Blue Books) published from 1883. Within these pages are information on electrical firms, advertisements and an alphabetical classified section on individuals. We also have some other institutional records from the IERE, IProdE and IIE.

Occasionally an obituary or biography may have been written about certain members and published in the Journal of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (JIEE) or in the Blue Books directory.

In addition to paper records we also have some photographs, portraits and films of notable engineers. These include past Presidents, Faraday Medallists and Honorary Fellows.

Our military records can help to learn more about an engineer's role during the two world wars. Some contain biographical information such as the First World War Roll of Honour, which holds details on the member, where they were stationed, military action and how they died.

We also hold a number of interesting collections relating to women in engineering and science, education and the importance of domestic electricity.

Francis Hughes Webb, Secretary of the Socieity of Telegraph Engineers, seated with a child.

Contact us for some advice

If you would like to know more about our records please visit our family history pages on our website or see our new family history leaflet.

This leaflet was produced to highlight the varied collections we hold that may help with family history research. We want to reach new audiences to open up our collections and to assist those who are embarking on their family history with an engineering aspect. The images chosen illustrate the range of material we have to offer.

If you have any enquiries regarding your research please contact us for a chat, we are always happy to help.

Edited: 15 December 2014 at 11:00 AM by Asha Gage


    Posted By: Asha Gage @ 15 December 2014 10:26 AM     Archives     Comments (0)  

December 10, 2014
World War I Council Minutes of the IEE - December 1914

The following IEE Council minutes are extracts from the minutes of December 1914. Not all the minutes have been reproduced below, only those that directly relate to the war and its effects on the Institution.

Council meeting of 10 December 1914

“Letters of condolence expressing the sympathy of the Council were ordered to be sent to the families of the late Captain G L Sclater RN, Member, Captain of HMS Bulwark and Mr W Grigor Taylor, Member, who had acted as Local Honorary Secretary of the Institution for the Straits Settlements from 1902 to 1904.

A letter (25 November 1914) was read from Dr J A Fleming recommending the suspension of the David Hughes Scholarship awarded to Mr James Mould (who recently obtained a Commission in the Royal Garrison Artillery) until he is released from his military duties. It was resolved to adopt this recommendation.

The President mentioned the question of compiling a list of the names of members of the Institution who are serving with the Army or the Navy, and it was agreed to issue a circular asking for such names with a view to their publication in the Journal”.

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 10 December 2014 03:01 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

Christmas 2014 Library arrangements

Off-site books
The last day for requesting off-site items for receipt this year is 15 December 2014.
Email requests received after Monday morning 15th December 2014 will not be requested from our offsite storage until Monday 5th January 2015.

Library closure:
The Library will be closed all day on 18 December 2014.

Christmas closure
The Library will be closed from 11.30am on 24th December 2014 and will re-open on Monday 5th January 2015, 9.00am.


    Posted By: Mike Dunne @ 10 December 2014 02:22 PM     Service changes     Comments (0)  

December 8, 2014
James H H Merriman Papers - President of IEE 1974-75

The IET Archives recently received a donation of papers belonging to James Henry Herbert Merriman who was the IEE President in 1974-75. The photograph above is the IEE’s formal black & white photograph of James taken at the start of his Presidential term. Perhaps surprisingly the IET Archives has very few collections of former IET/IEE Presidents who held that position after the Second World War so this collection was very warmly received.

Biographical Details for James H H Merriman

James Merriman was born in Pembroke, 1915. He was educated at King's College School, Wimbledon, and King's College, University of London. He obtained his BSc (Hons) in 1935 and did postgraduate research at King's College London obtaining his MSc in 1936.

James entered the GPO Engineering Department, Radio Research Branch, Dollis Hill, in 1936 and was associated with the development of long distance radio communication systems. From 1940 to 1948 James was Officer-in-charge at Castleton radio research station. From 1948 to 1953 he worked as Engineer-in-Chief, GPO London HQ on HF, VHF and microwave system development and planning.

In 1954 James went to Imperial Defence College and in 1955 he became Head of GPO Engineering Department O&M unit. From 1956 to 1959 he was Deputy Director Organisation and Methods Division, HM Treasury. He then became Assistant Engineer-in-Chief GPO with oversight of all transmissions including space systems in 1963, becoming Deputy Chief Engineer in 1965, Senior Director of Engineering in 1967, then Senior Director, Development.  Eventually James became Board Member for Technology 1969-1976. Other positions James held included Chairman National Computing Centre 1977-1983 and he was a member of the NEDC Electronics Committee from 1977-1983.

James who received an OBE in 1961 and his CB in 1969 was Faraday Lecturer 1969-1970, was made a Fellow of King's College in 1972, received an Honorary DSc from Strathclyde in 1974, became President of the IEE in 1974-75 and was made an Honorary Fellow of the IEE in 1981.

When James completed his term in office as IEE President, as was customary at that time, he received a certificate of thanks from the IEE Council which was signed by a Council member, and the new incoming President. James’ certificate is shown below.



Collection Contents

The deposited collection comprises primarily James’ published papers and articles, annotated typescript versions of lectures and a small number of photographs.

There are some nice black & white photographs from the 1969-1970 Faraday lecture. This was given by James on the subject of ‘people, communications and engineering’. The lectures were given around the country and took place over many weeks. The two photographs below show James on stage at one of the lectures and then the two GPO vans that were required to transport all the equipment need to support the lectures.




The James HH Merriman papers have now been catalogued (reference SC MSS 259) and are available to view in the IET Archives. The contents of the collection can be viewed in the IET Archives online catalogue.

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 08 December 2014 01:23 PM     Archives     Comments (0)  

December 5, 2014
Restoration of Portraits Hanging in the Lecture Theatre at Savoy Place

The eye-catching wood-panelled lecture theatre at the IET’s Savoy Place in London has been enjoyed for many decades by IET staff who worked there, attendees at events hosted at Savoy Place and general visitors to the building. However, many of those who have passed through the doors of the lecture theatre may not have been aware of the history of the eight portraits that have hung on the walls, or the people represented in those portraits.

The two images below show the lecture theatre at two different points in its history. The first image is from the 1930s shortly after the portraits were hung for the first time – note that the portraits are framed and hung on top of the wooden panelling. The second image is much more recent and dates from after the major refurbishment of the lecture theatre which took place in 1959-60 (when the paintings were mounted in recesses behind the panelling and also lit) and after the 1990s installation of the ceiling design by artist Tony Raymond.




Who Are the People Shown in the Portraits?

The eight portraits that were hanging in the lecture theatre in early 2014 were of the following well-known people; Sir Joseph Wilson Swan; Lord Kelvin; Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti; Michael Faraday; Alexander Graham Bell; Andre Marie Ampere; John Hopkinson; and Alessandro Volta. Images of two of the paintings following their recent restoration are shown below. They are firstly Michael Faraday, painted by George Harcourt in 1926 and secondly Alessandro Volta painted by Giuseppe Palanti in 1928.




How Did These Particular Portraits Find Their Way Into Savoy Place?

The IEE Council minutes of 1925 show the beginning of the discussion about oil paintings for the lecture theatre. It is probably no surprise that there was much debate about who should be represented in the portraits, who should be commissioned to paint the portraits, and which images of the chosen subjects should be used as the basis for the new portraits.

The first two paintings agreed upon were Faraday and Kelvin both to be painted by Mr G Harcourt ARA for a fee of 400 guineas for each painting. What is perhaps surprising is that the IEE only commissioned and paid for one of the portraits, that of Kelvin. The portrait of Faraday was commissioned by Mr Evershed and then immediately presented to the Institution as a gift. This was the pattern set for the subsequent paintings. Each was commissioned and paid for by a noted member of the IEE and then donated to the IEE. This situation meant that the commissioner of each painting had a significant influence over the subject matter and painter of each portrait. The portraits of Faraday and Kelvin were completed and hung in 1926.

In 1927 a short-list of 6 names for the remaining paintings was noted in the IEE Council minutes. That list included Volta, Ampere, Hopkinson, Bell and Swan all of whose portraits were painted over the next few years. However, the name of Gilbert dropped off the list to be replaced by de Ferranti. Mr Paul donated the Volta painting, Sir Charles Parsons donated the Swan painting, Sir Tom Callender donated the Hopkinson painting, Mr Garcke donated the Ampere painting, Sir Hugo Hirst donated the painting of Bell, and Mr Marryat donated the painting of de SZ de Ferranti.

A 9th and a 10th painting, one of Charles Wheatstone and one of James Clerk Maxwell, were also commissioned as part of this process. However, despite the paintings being produced, they do not appear on the walls of the lecture theatre in the 21st century although the portraits do still exist and are in the IET’s portrait collection.

The Recent Restoration

As part of the process of redevelopment of Savoy Place, the lecture theatre paintings were taken down in early 2014, which involved carefully removing some of the panelling to extract the individual paintings. This opportunity was used to send the 8 lecture theatre paintings to a fine art restorer to clean and restore any damage to the paintings which had been in situ for many decades. This process was completed a few months ago and the paintings are now crated and in storage awaiting their return to Savoy Place in 2015.

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 05 December 2014 08:56 AM     Archives     Comments (0)  

December 2, 2014
Bernard Martin Crowther (1910 - 2005) - Editor of Science Abstracts for Almost Two Decades

Earlier in 2014 the IET Archives received a donation of papers belonging to Bernard Martin Crowther. Bernard Crowther was intimately involved with the history of the IET, particularly the IET’s Inspec database, where he was the Chief Editor from 1945 to 1964 of what was then known as Science Abstracts.

The history of Science Abstracts and Inspec is recorded in detail on the IET Archives web pages here Bernard Crowther is mentioned in passing on those pages in the section covering Inspec staff memoirs where the recollections are recorded of two Assistant Editors who worked for Bernard, the well-known author Sir Arthur C Clarke, and Gerald Beck.

Bernard’s papers which include extensive records of instructions and notes for abstractors, commentaries on the role of abstracting, and details of the changing face of the office in the mid-20th century, such as the introduction of typewriter composition, are therefore a very welcome addition to the archive collections.

Bernard Crowther’s Life Outside of Science Abstracts

Bernard M Crowther was educated at Oundle School, near Peterborough 1924-1929, then at Clare College, Cambridge, 1929-1932, where he studied in the physics faculty, and was taught by the eminent physicist Ernest Rutherford. He worked at Cambridge's Cavendish Laboratory from 1932 to 1935 and was awarded a PhD in 1936 for his work on 'the separation of isotopes'.

Prior to joining the IEE in October 1945 as Editor of Science Abstracts, from 1936 to 1945 Bernard was a researcher at EMI in Hayes, Middlesex. This was an important period in the development of high-definition television in which EMI was a major player and Bernard worked as a junior colleague with the noted electronics engineer Alan Blumlein.

Between 1943 and 1947 Bernard wrote scripts for a 10-minute BBC World Service programme which included reviews of new issues of Nature and Discovery. This interest in ‘reviewing’ then extended further with an invitation from The Economist in 1947 to write physical science book reviews for the journal. This began an 11-year relationship between Bernard and The Economist and many of his book reviews, written between 1947 and 1958, are included in his papers.

Office Life in the 1950’s and 1960’s

Whilst it might be expected that Bernard’s papers would contain extensive details about abstracting and the world of abstracting, it might be less expected that they would contain a detailed record of office life in the 1950’s and early 1960’s. He kept a work diary and also a memoranda copy book covering the period 1955 to 1963 in which minute details are kept of working arrangements in the office and in which the memoranda to his staff are recorded. The formal nature of the office is perhaps exemplified by the following two memoranda:

Memorandum to a Mr Anderton dated 13 September 1960, “Please supply Mr Lever of Science Abstracts with one Comet stapler to replace one evidently removed from his desk illicitly during his holiday. B M Crowther.”

Memorandum dated 27 April 1960, “congratulations – since 4th March you have kept up a pretty steady average of 16 pages per day – actually, allowing for Easter, you are just 32 pages short of the exact average, counting sheets actually sent off. Please keep this up….  BMC.”

The Launch of Tetra Pak in 1951

Another surprising ‘find’ amongst Bernard’s papers was a folder of publicity material from Tetra Pak on the launch of its innovative product in 1951 which had been sent to Science Abstracts. Tetra Pak, a subsidiary of the Swedish firm Akerlund and Rausing, was formed in 1951 just prior to the public launch of its ‘revolutionary new one-way package for milk, cream, auto-oil, fruit juices and ice cream’. Two of these marketing images showing the new product and the novel way of storing multiple packages are shown below.




Life After Science Abstracts

Bernard gave up his executive responsibilities with Science Abstracts in 1964 although he continued to have an association with it for a few more years, first as an Advisory Editor and then as a consultant. His interest in science, technology and physics did not diminish and within his papers is a set of correspondence from 1981 between Bernard and the Head of Documentary Features at the BBC, Will Wyatt. Bernard had heard that a documentary was planned covering the launch of the BBC’s first high-definition television broadcasting service from Alexandra Palace in 1936. He was concerned about potential inaccuracies in the coverage of the efforts of the EMI research team and wanted to speak to the producer to ensure the accuracy of the documentary. Bernard stated, “I was a member of the research team at EMI at the time of the inauguration of the service, and knew all the principal participants at the EMI end quite intimately”. Bernard also wrote a manuscript list of names of the principal participants which he stapled to the set of correspondence.

The Bernard M Crowther papers have now been catalogued (reference SC MSS 258) and are available to view in the IET Archives. The contents of the collection can be viewed in the IET Archives online catalogue.

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology

Edited: 03 December 2014 at 08:13 AM by Jonathan Cable


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 02 December 2014 12:38 PM     Archives     Comments (0)  

November 28, 2014
IET Archives - Rare Books Back From Storage

When the new IET Archive Centre was opened earlier in 2014 at Savoy Hill House there was an initial period when the new strongroom remained empty to allow the environmental conditions to stabilise. Following that period the core archive collections were brought back from storage – those collections that were deemed to be especially valuable or popular. Whilst this process was completed by the summer of 2014, one large gap remained on the strongroom shelves. This was the area allocated to the IET’s collections of rare books particularly those collections known as the S P Thompson rare books library and the Ronalds library.

As the rare books, many bound in leather or vellum, and many of them dating back several centuries, are particularly sensitive to conditions, such as the relative humidity, it was decided to postpone bringing back these rare books until there was a track record of stable conditions through both the colder spring months and also the warmer summer months. Now these collections of rare books have also been returned from storage and sit on the shelves of the archive strongroom. The image below shows the rare books on the strongroom shelves that are predominantly from the Ronalds collection.



Book Boxing

Prior to the move out of Savoy Place in 2013, many of the more valuable and fragile rare books, mainly from the S P Thompson collection, were measured. These measurements were used to make ‘book boxes’, which were then fitted to provide further long-term protection to the individual books prior to being them being packed and transferred to archive quality storage (compliant with PD5454:2012). Those boxed books are shown in the image below, now situated on the shelves in the strongroom at Savoy Hill House.

More Unusual Subject Matter in the Rare Books Collection

Given that the SP Thompson collection is commonly called ‘the electrical library of Silvanus P Thompson’, there are perhaps unexpectedly, many books on matters perhaps considered less electrical. One such example is an old work on amber, illustrated below.




The volume called, ‘historiae succinorum corpora aliena involventium et naturae opera pictorum et caelatorum…’, by Nathanael Sendel (1686-1757) is dated 1742. Amongst other things this work describes the formation of amber and its properties and contains a series of plates illustrating animals and plants encased in amber. It has been said that this work laid the foundation for future paleobiological amber research.

A Map Puzzle

Within the S P Thompson rare books collection there is a wonderful ‘map of the arctic regions’, 1597, supposedly by Cornelius Wytfliet which is shown below.



The map comes with two slips of paper written by Thompson. The first slip says that the map, exhibited by S P Thompson, was a map of the artic regions from 1597 and that it was probably by Cornelius Wytfliet. The second slip says the following;

“this map shows at the North Pole a high black rock. It also shows in the artic sea to the north of Eastern Siberia two positions for the alleged Loadstone Rock or magnetic pole, one located on the hypothesis that the line of no variation passes through Cape Verde, the other on the hypothesis that it passes through the Island of Corvo in the Azores. At an outlet of Davis Strait, north of Labrador, it bears the inscription, a furious over-fall.”

However, other sources would suggest that this map, titled, ‘Septentrionalium Terrarum descriptio, 1597’ is not by Wyfliet but is instead by C Loew (pseudonym for Matthias Quad), after Mercator, published in 1598 from the book "Meer oder Seehanen Buch", Colonia, 1598.


Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 28 November 2014 11:51 AM     Archives     Comments (0)  

November 27, 2014
Third IEE Member to Fall in World War 1 - Captain G L Sclater

Captain Guy Lutley Sclater of the Royal Navy, died 26 November 1914, the third member of the IEE to die in World War 1. He was in command of HMS Bulwark when she blew up and sank at Sheerness as the result of an explosion on board. Of the complement of 780 officers and various ratings, only 14 men were saved and three of these died from their injuries within a few hours.

A photograph of Guy, and his obituary, including the full details surrounding his death were published in the IEE World War I Honour Roll and these details have been reproduced below.





Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 27 November 2014 01:18 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

November 12, 2014
New Joint IET/IMech/ICE Online WWI Exhibition, Including the Story of Harry Ellis, MIEE

This is the story of an electrical engineer and IEE Member, Harry Ellis, during WWI and has been written using his personal papers deposited with the IET Archives (reference NAEST 155).

This story is also recounted in ‘Engineers at War: an online exhibition’, which is the collaborative project between the archives of the IET, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE). Details about the exhibition and a link to the exhibition can be found here .

Harry Stephenson Ellis

Harry Stephenson Ellis was born in 1881 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. On leaving school he entered the field of electrical engineering with an apprenticeship at Cardiff Corporation Electricity and Tramways Departments. His skills and experience grew over the years and by 1910 he was Deputy City Electrical Engineer and Manager of the Electricity Department in Bradford. During the First World War he served with No. 3 Signals Section of the Durham Royal Engineers Volunteer Home Force.

A letter dated 1st November 1915 from Lieutenant Colonel Walsh of the Welsh Fusiliers is the first correspondence on his wartime activities. Mr Ellis had written to Lieutenant Colonel Walsh previously to request leave from his position as Borough Electrical Engineer in South Shields. In his reply Lieutenant Colonel Walsh was adamant that Ellis stay in his employment as he was providing much needed power for shipbuilding firms that were vital for the War. He further explains that even if Ellis were to join the Royal Engineers then he could be sent somewhere peaceful engaged in work of less importance than the type he was doing at home. Ellis’s work as a skilled electrical engineer was recognised as being of more use to the war effort than in the ranks of the Royal Engineers.

“…I have come to the conclusion that you really have absolutely no business or right to leave the important post which you are now holding. Remember this, you are providing power for large shipbuilding firms, Graving docks and people occupied in building destroyers, submarines, cruisers etc…” 

“Supposing you get what you are qualified for namely a Captaincy in the Royal Engineers, you might find yourself sent to some quite peaceful place doing Military Engineering work of very small importance compared to the work in which you are now engaged.” 

In a second letter dated 15 November 1915 Lieutenant Colonel Walsh reiterates his assertion that he believes Ellis’s first duty is to provide power and light to the shipbuilding industries of South Shields and tries to dissuade him from joining the Royal Engineers in France with the suggestion of enrolling in the Volunteer Corps. 

Ellis did not give up easily and the reply from the Air Organization Directorate in May 1916 shows that he applied for a commission in the Royal Flying Corps. 

A second letter from May 1916 gives evidence that whilst not engaged in active service Ellis was assisting the war effort at home. A reply from Major General Shaw from the Home Forces describes how Ellis’s method of painting street lamps was favourably received by the Field Marshall. He sent drawings on how to minimise white light on the ground produced by arc lamps.

By April 1917 Ellis had offered his services as a National Service Volunteer. However, he again received notice that because of the importance of his occupation he was not to be called upon unless absolutely necessary and only after the offers of men in less important occupations had been exhausted.

“Your offer has been recorded, but in view of the nature of your occupation it can only be considered after dealing with the offers of men engaged in work of less essential importance.” 

Ellis did not give up; such was the fervour for patriotism and the desire to enlist. By November 1917 Ellis had succeeded in his attempts to join the war effort in a military capacity. He was accepted as a Lieutenant in the Volunteer Force, County of Durham Volunteer Engineers, exactly two years after his initial request. He was the commanding officer for No.3 Signals Section of the Durham Royal Engineers Volunteer Corps. In May 1919 he received orders for the disbandment of the Volunteer Force and the re-opening of the Territorial Force. He was in command of checking all remaining stores and the accommodation at the Drill Hall. 



In recognition of Ellis’s contribution to the war effort he was granted the Honorary Rank of Lieutenant with the special privilege of wearing his uniform during military occasions. 

“I am commanded by the Army Council to inform you that in recognition of your services as an officer of the Volunteer Force in the Durham Royal Engineers (V.) you have been granted the Honorary Rank of Lieutenant with the right to wear uniform on special occasions of a military nature…I am to take this opportunity of conveying the thanks of the Army council for your services to the Country during the Great War, and for the excellent work you have done.” 



Ellis left Durham in 1919 to take up employment as Borough Electrical Engineer in Southampton.

Ellis joined the IEE as an Associate Member in 1906 and became a Member in 1913. He was an active member of the IEE's Western Section and served as its Chairman in 1938-39. He was also a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 12 November 2014 11:35 AM     World War I     Comments (0)  

November 7, 2014
Electrical Association of Women (EAW) Rugby Branch Records

Earlier this year the IET Archives received a donation of papers related to the Rugby Branch of the Electrical Association of Women (EAW). The papers came from the family of Mrs D M Bastow who was Chairman of the Rugby Branch from 1976 until the disbanding of the branch and the EAW in December 1986. Mrs Bastow was also a member of the EAW’s National Executive in the final years of the EAW and some of her personal and National Executive papers and material can be found amongst these branch records.

Some of the papers in the deposit had signs of mould and so the collection was originally quarantined, before being sent for treatment. Once the papers had been cleaned they were then in a position to be catalogued.

EAW Records and the Records of the Rugby Branch

The EAW was formed in 1924 and eventually had several hundred branches in the UK and overseas. The Rugby Branch was founded in 1928 and its inauguration certificate from 25 October 1928, which came with the donation, is shown below.



The menu and programme from the first annual dinner, held at the Grand Hotel, Rugby, 23 November 1929, shows that members enjoyed the following courses; julien soup; fried sole with an anchovy sauce; roast chicken with ham, boiled and baked potatoes, savoy; apple tart and cream; finished with Welsh rarebit and coffee. The meal was accompanied by toasts, a duet, songs and a pianoforte solo.



A lengthy report of the annual dinner in the local press, detailing all the participants and details of the speeches and toasts, is very much of its time. The proposer of the ‘visitor’s toast’, Mrs H de B Knight, welcomed the visitors and explained to them that, “while the EAW was a women’s organisation, and therefore independent, they welcomed the mere males who were present, because they provided the wherewithal to purchase the many electrical fittings which the modern woman requires in her home”.

After the EAW was disbanded in 1986, the EAW’s central records were deposited in the IEE Archives (reference NAEST 093 and NAEST 093A) together with a selection of EAW branch records (reference NAEST 093B). However the majority of the many branch records were deposited at local record offices.

The EAW was structured so that the branches were affiliated to an Area Federation. In the case of the Rugby Branch it was a member of the East Midlands Area Federation. The records of 4 East Midlands Area branches, Lincoln, Mansfield and District, Mansfield Evening, and Tamworth and District came to the IEE. However other branch records, including some Rugby Branch records were deposited amongst the Records Offices of Humberside, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire, Nottingham and Warwickshire. A list of what records went where is held in the IET Archive Centre. The EAW poster below (NAEST 093/11/16) shows the EAW’s branches in the UK, with the colours representing different Area Federations. The East Midlands Area is shown towards the bottom of the picture in pink.



EAW Tea Towels – The Discovery of Some New Varieties

One of the nice surprises about this donation is that it contained material produced centrally by the EAW but which has not survived in the central collections and which we had not seen before. For example there were two new, previously unseen, EAW tea towel, one of which is shown below.



There was also Mrs Bastow’s National Executive member medal which does not exist in the central EAW collections.



The EAW Rugby Branch papers have now been catalogued (reference NAEST 093B/5/5) and are available to view in the IET Archives. The contents of the collection can be viewed in the IET Archives online catalogue by entering the term ‘UK0108 NAEST 093B/5/5’ in the search engine which can be found here .

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 07 November 2014 12:28 PM     Archives     Comments (0)  

November 4, 2014
Gustav Wikkenhauser (1901 - 1974) - a Television Pioneer

The IET Archives recently received a donation of papers belonging to Gustav Wikkenhauser, who was described in his obituary as a pioneer of television. 

Gustav was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1901 and received his degree in mechanical and electrical engineering from the University of Budapest in 1926. He was then employed by AEG in Berlin before joining the laboratories of the Telehor Television Company on its formation in 1929. He worked in Berlin on the early stages of mechanical television and was invited to come to Britain in 1932 to work on television in the UK where he started to work for the company Scophony Ltd. A photograph of Gustav from later in his life is shown below.



Scophony Limited

Scophony operated internationally in Britain and Germany in the early 1930s and in Britain and America in the late 1930s. It has been described as one of the most highly original television manufacturers of the 1930s and praised for its innovative optical-mechanical television systems which produced large screen high-definition pictures for both the home and cinema. More information about Scophony can be found on the National Media Museum’s blog site here . The blog, also mentions Gustav and his involvement with Scophony and mentions that it was Wikkenhauser who built the two 30 line television receivers that Dénes Von Mihály, the Hungarian inventor and engineer, demonstrated at the 1928 Berlin Radio Exhibition.

R W Burns in his book, ‘British Television: The Formative Years’ (IEE Technology Series No.7), commented, “there is no doubt that the Scophony engineers, Walton, Wikkenhauser, Sieger, Robinson, and Lee, produced some of the most highly original devices ever seen in the field of television.” Burns’ book, available via the IET Library, has a chapter on the work of the Television Committee and high definition television in 1934 which also discusses the four competitor companies engaged in research on high definition systems at that time which were; Scophony Ltd; A C Cossor Ltd; Baird Television Ltd; and Electric and Musical Industries Ltd / Marconi-EMI Television Company Limited.

The War Years

Gustav became a naturalized British citizen in 1941 and was awarded the MBE for his scientific work at that time. It was after the war, in 1946, that Gustav married his second wife, Pamela.

Gustav’s work during the war remains something of a mystery although the depositor of the collection believes that there was a connection with radar. There is a series of Gustav’s papers in The National Archives, dating from 1939 to 1946 (reference HO 405/59934) which until only very recently had been closed (records opened to the public 30 October 2014).

Post-war Years

In 1947 Gustav became Chief Development Engineer for Kelvin Hughes (division of Smith Industries Ltd), of Barkingside, where he researched navigational instruments. Despite his work on early television, Gustav’s obituary comments that he was internationally known for his research into scientific instruments. The photograph below shows Gustav alongside Francis Chichester, the aviator and sailor, in front of Kelvin Hughes’ instrumentation in 1962.



Despite his involvement with navigational instrumentation Gustav retained an interest in television which we know from photographs contained within the deposited papers. There are several photographs taken at the Milan Fair for International Motion Pictures (MIFED) in 1960 where Gustav is photographed as a speaker alongside other pioneers of television such as Vladimir K Zworykin (inventor of a television transmitting and receiving system employing cathode ray tubes) – see below.



Gustav was made a Freeman of the City of London in 1958 and was a member of many professional organisations over his career. He was a Fellow of The Television Society, a Member of the British Institution of Radio Engineers (one of the predecessor organisations of the IET), a member of the Worshipful Company of Scientific Instrument Makers, and a Fellow of the Institute of Navigation. He retired in 1967 but continued to work as a consultant for Shell International Marine Ltd, for whom he researched the measurement of ship's motion. Gustav died aged 73 in 1974.

Personal Interests

Gustav, in addition to being an exceptional engineer, enjoyed socialising, and was a keen sailor. There are many personal photographs within the deposited collection and two of these, showing a very glamorous Gustav and Pamela, and Gustav sailing his boat off the Isle of Wight are shown below.





The Gustav Wikkenhauser papers have now been catalogued (reference SC MSS 257) and are available to view in the IET Archives. The contents of the collection can be viewed in the IET Archives online catalogue.

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology

Edited: 05 November 2014 at 09:50 AM by Jonathan Cable


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 04 November 2014 04:02 PM     Archives     Comments (0)  

World War I Council Minutes of the IEE - November 1914

The following IEE Council minutes are extracts from the minutes of November 1914. Not all the minutes have been reproduced below, only those that directly relate to the war and its effects on the Institution.

Council meeting of 12 November 1914

“Suggestions were considered that subscriptions be invited from the members of the Institution to present:-

(a) A motor transport searchlight to the London Electrical Engineers (T.) R.E.

(b) A range-finder to the Engineer Units of the Royal Naval Division.

It was agreed that appliances of this kind form part of the military equipment of a Corps, and should therefore be provided by the authorities rather than by subscriptions from the members of the Institution.

A letter was read from a Member in regard to the circumstances in which he is placed, and it was resolved to refer the case to the National Services Committee with a view to employment being found.

The President reported that he had received a request from Major-General Ruck, on behalf of the War Office, asking the President of the Institution to nominate young engineers for temporary commissions in the Royal Garrison Artillery, and that he had issued a circular to the members (MIEE) inviting them to recommend suitable candidates, a number of whom had already been seen by him and Mr Duddell.

A letter (6 November 1914) was read from Lieutenant-Colonel AB Carey, RE, expressing the thanks of the Royal Naval Divisional Engineers for the subscriptions contributed by members of Council for the provision of band instruments for the Corps (see Minute 247, 1 October 1914).”

Council meeting of 26 November 1914

“The following reports of the Finance Committee were received and adopted:-

(b) On the application of the Office of Works arrangements have been made by the Committee for the War Office to continue for an indefinite period their occupation of the 1st floor rooms, free of rent, subject to the premises being vacated on a fortnights’ notice being given by the Institution, and the War Office paying all rates and taxes in respect of those rooms, and any out-of-pocket expenses incurred by the Institution on their behalf, such as heating, lighting etc.”

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 04 November 2014 11:16 AM     World War I     Comments (0)  

October 29, 2014
Allen West - a Key Figure in British Electrical Equipment Manufacturing

The IET Archives recently received the donation of a very large black & white photograph of Allen West, which measures 104cm by 90cm, and which is reproduced below. The name of Allen West will be unfamiliar to many people but he was the founder of the company Allen West & Co. Ltd in 1910 which grew to become one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of control gear and switchgear in the 20th century. The company, which once employed over 3000 people in the UK and had branches and representatives all around the world, no longer exists as Allen West & Co, but following a management buyout in 2007 the rights to the Allen West products and associated records are now held by the company Allenwest Brighton Ltd.



The story of the Allen West company from 1910-1960 is told in the book, ‘The Allen West Story’ which was published for private circulation by the company in April 1960 – a copy of this volume which was presented to the IEE in 1960 by the company can be found in the IET Library. A cropped version of the donated photograph above appears in the book on page 24.

As well as being an engineer Allen West was also a soldier who fought in the Boer war as well as the two World Wars. On the outbreak of the Boer war, he volunteered as a trooper in the Yeomanry and following rapid promotion was given the command of a squadron which took part in the relief of Mafeking. He was wounded at that time and sent to convalesce in Hove.

Allen West was also associated with the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers’ Association (BEAMA) and was on its Council for many years. Although he gave up the Managing Directorship of the eponymous company in 1933, he remained on the Board for a further 20 years before retiring. He died in 1957 aged 80.

Allen West & Co Ltd

One of Allen West’s first contracts in 1911 was with the Admiralty providing control gear components and it went on to supply starters for many ships of the Royal Navy from aircraft carriers to midget submarines. The company also supplied many industrial concerns such as steelworks, power stations and mines where it supplied controllers for mine hoists and haulages.

In World War II, the company played a part in the development of radar. It manufactured self-contained radar trailers and equipment for long range detector units. It also supplied special control gear for apparatus used to protect vessels from magnetic mines.

The IET Archives also holds some Allen West & Co material within its other collections for example some of its product leaflets can be found in our Croyden ‘A’ power station collection (reference NAEST 001/1/100) as well as connection diagrams within the same collection (reference NAEST 001/1/132). Leaflets for circuit breakers and switches are illustrated below.




The History of the Allen West Photograph

The Allen West photograph was kindly donated to the IET Archives by the Parmley Graham company. It’s Chairman, Mike Wilson, tells the following story about the photograph;

“My first recollection of seeing this rather imposing photograph was on the grand staircase of the Brighton head office of Allen West & Company, when I arrived there for training in 1966. J Parmley Graham & Sons Ltd, the firm which had just recruited me from ICI Heavy Organics Chemical Division, (now Parmley Graham Ltd) had been appointed as the Allen West Agent in North-East England in the early 1900’s just as Allen West was getting started.

Allen West and James Parmley Graham became friends whilst serving their apprenticeships on Tyneside at J H Holmes and Co., a manufacturer which eventually became Reyrolle then NEI, Rolls Royce and is now Siemens. By 1910 JPG as agent had secured the first order for six large reversing haulage controllers for a colliery in the North-East, which were still working twenty years later. The relationship prospered because of the huge requirement there was for Allen West products, like the newly invented drum controller, for use in the coal steel and chemical industries. The firm’s marine control gear was also in great demand and it is claimed that there was not a single Royal Naval vessel afloat in both world wars which was not extensively equipped with Allen West Gear, in the engine room and on deck.

When I arrived on the scene, there were 3500 employees in Brighton, plus those in its subsidiary companies in Canada, South Africa, Rhodesia and France. However, the notion of selling industrial goods through an agent was already passé, but such was the success of the North-East England Agent, it remained in place when every other area of England and Scotland were made into Allen West regional offices.

During those heady days when our links with Allen West were very strong and we were by far their largest distributor, the directors were moved in 1992, to send to me an appreciative plaque celebrating 82 years of co-operation together with a copy (I think) of the photograph of Mr Allen West which I had so revered at the beginning of my career.”

An Interesting Shareholder!

We are also grateful to Mike Wilson for supplying us with a copy of a handwritten list of the early Allen West & Co shareholders shown below.



Albert Slazenger, of sports equipment fame, appears on the list with a large holding of 23,000 shares. Mike believes that at some point around the time of this circa 1910 list, Allen West was also involved with the manufacturer of Slazenger’s tennis racquets!

The Allen West photograph has been catalogued as SC MSS 256 and can be viewed by appointment at the IET Archives Centre at Savoy Hill House.

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 29 October 2014 10:50 AM     Archives     Comments (0)  

October 21, 2014
Second IEE Member to Fall in World War 1 - Sergent J H Labour

Sergent Joseph Henri Labour of the 13th Régiment d’Infanterie, att. 160th Régiment de l’Armeé Française, died in combat on 18 October 1914, the second member of the IEE to die in World War 1. Given the fierceness of the fighting in which he was involved his body was never recovered. Born and educated in France, he became an Associate Member of the IEE in 1906 and died at the age of 38 years, 2 months. For his distinguished services in the Great War, he was decorated with the Croix de Guerre and also the Médaille Militaire.

A photograph of Joseph, and his obituary, including the full details surrounding his death were published in the IEE World War I Honour Roll and these details have been reproduced below.


Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 21 October 2014 09:50 AM     World War I     Comments (0)  

October 17, 2014
50 new electronic books added to library service

The library service has recently added 50 new titles to its ebook service.
These are available through the Engineering and IT Reference collection (Books 24x7) and can be accessed by:
Logging  onto the IET website
Navigating to:
Select title

 Many of these titles are 2014 imprints here I will highlight just two:

Cover of Electric and hybrid vehiclesElectric and Hybrid Vehicles: Technologies, Modeling and Control: A Mechatronic Approach
by Amir Khajepour, Saber Fallah and Avesta Goodarzi

John Wiley & Sons © 2014 (432 pages)


Highly illustrated, with examples of real applications throughout, this introductory book is designed to help a new generation of engineers needing to master the principles of and further advances in hybrid vehicle technology.


Cover of LTE/LTE- advanced4G: LTE/LTE-Advanced for Mobile Broadband, Second Edition
by Erik Dahlman, Stefan Parkvall and Johan Sköld

Academic Press © 2014 (537 pages)


Providing a complete picture of the LTE system, this must-read book offers detailed explanations for the latest LTE standards for radio interface architecture, the physical layer, access procedures, broadcast, relaying, spectrum and RF characteristics, and system performance.

Take the virtual tour at

Edited: 17 October 2014 at 02:28 PM by Mike Dunne


    Posted By: Mike Dunne @ 17 October 2014 11:59 AM     Library     Comments (0)  

October 7, 2014
Library earlier closing days: December 2014 and January 2015

The following dates are known dates in December 2014 and January 2015 when the IET Library at One Birdcage Walk will close early, because of an organised event taking place in the Library Room.

We apologise in advance for this inconvenience. When an event takes place the Library will normally close at 5pm rather than 5.30.
Please note additional events are sometimes added and some events are  Provisional (to be confirmed). We will update this blog and tweet changes as soon as possible.

2 Dec  -  Confirmed
3 Dec  -  Confirmed
9 Dec  -  Confirmed
10 Dec -  Confirmed
17 Dec -  Provisional
18 Dec -  IMechE Christmas Party: LIBRARY CLOSED ALL DAY

6 January 2015 -  Confirmed
14 January 2015 - Provisional
20 January 2015 - Provisional
21 January 2015 - Confirmed
22 January 2015 - Provisional

Christmas closure:
The IET Library Reading Room at IMechE, One Birdcage Walk will be closed from 11.30am on 24th December 2014 and will re-open on Monday 5th January 2015, 9.00am.

To follow us on twitter:

To telephone the library: 020 7344 5461

Edited: 02 December 2014 at 01:21 PM by Mike Dunne


    Posted By: Mike Dunne @ 07 October 2014 11:01 AM     General     Comments (0)  

October 2, 2014
World War I Council Minutes of the IEE - October 1914

The following IEE Council minutes are extracts from the minutes of October 1914. Not all the minutes have been reproduced below, only those that directly relate to the war and its effects on the Institution.

Council meeting of 1 October 1914

“Letters of condolence were ordered to be sent to Mr F A Newington, brother of the late Mr S W Newington, and also to Mr R H Seabrook, whose brother Lieutenant James H Seabrook was recently killed in action in France.”

“The Honorary Treasurer having reported that an application was expected from the War Office for the use of some of the Institution rooms as offices, it was agreed to place at the disposal of the war Office, free of rent, the vacant rooms on the first floor (east and west sides), but in view of the decision to hold the Institution session as usual and in view also of the meetings of other Societies which are usually held in the Institution rooms it was decided to limit the offer of accommodation to the War Office to the vacant rooms on the first floor.

Mr Duddell reported the progress made in connection with the selection of men for the Engineers Units of the Royal Naval Division under the authority given by the First Lord of the Admiralty. The number of applications dealt with was as follows:-

Engineer Units – Royal Naval Division (Applications dealt with up to 30 September 1914)

                                     Members          Members              Members             Non-                Total

                                       of ICE                  of IEE                 of IMechE            Members


Enlisted                           106                      114                      39                       113                    372


Applicants who

failed to attend                 30                         45                      27                          9                     111

for interview


Withdrawn, in

suspense,                          9                          17                      10                       31                       67

medically unfit


TOTAL                           145                        176                      76                     153                    550

These figures do not include some 50 or 60 applications who wished to be considered for commissions only.

Votes of thanks were passed to Mr Duddell, General R M Ruck, CB RE, Colonel D E Ruck, Mr Robert Hammond and to Mr A P Trotter for the valuable assistance given by them in this work; also to the Hon. John M G Biddulph and Mr Edward Somers Cocks, who had attended twice daily to attest the recruits, and to the secretary and the Institution staff.

Mr Roger Smith having mentioned that he understood a small set of band instruments would be required for the Engineer Units, it was agreed to invite subscriptions from the members of Council of the three Institutions (Civil, Electrical, Mechanical) for the purpose of presenting a set to the Corps.

A letter (21 September, 1914) was read from the Secretary of the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers Association in regard to cooperating with the Committee recently appointed by the Council in connection with German trade. The President reported that he had arranged to meet Mr Davenport, Chairman of the BEAMA on Tuesday, the 6th October, to discuss the matter with him.

It was agreed to insure the Institution building and the Institution property in Tothill Street against war risks as a cost of about £100.

Letters (10th and 28th September) were considered from the Provisional Committee of the “Professional Classes War relief Council” enclosing outlines of a scheme for the cooperation of Professional Institutions and Societies organising relief in connection with distress which may arise amongst the Professional Classes during the war.

On the motion of Mr W M Mordey, seconded by Mr C H Merz, it was resolved that the National Service Committee report to the Council on the whole question of war relief and for this purpose communicate with the Institutions of Civil and Mechanical Engineers.”

“The following motion in the name of Mr Robert Hammond was withdrawn in view of the war:- that a Committee be appointed for settling a standard form of contract for ordinary domestic electricity supply.”

“The President having stated that the Local Sections did not propose in view of the war to hold Annual Dinners this session, it was agreed that the President and the Secretary should attend one of the meetings of each Local Section during the coming session.”

Council meeting of 29 October 1914

“(e) That the total subscriptions received for the band instruments to be presented to the Engineers Units of the Royal Naval Division (see minute no.247, 1 October, 1914) are as follows:-

Council of Institution of Electrical Engineers         £21

Council of Institution of Mechanical Engineers      £13


That the subscriptions from the Council of the Institution of Civil Engineers are being collected by their Secretary, but that no information as to the amount received is yet available.”

“A letter (9 October 1914) was read from H M Office of Works tendering to the Council the thanks of the Government for the accommodation placed by them at the disposal of the war Office (see minute no.246, 1 October, 1914).

“The following report of the National Service Committee on the question of war relief in connection with the professional classes (see minute no.250, 1 October, 1914) was adopted:-

The Committee consider, in regard to war relief that:-

(a) It is not advisable for the Institution to join the recently organized Professional Classes War relief Council.

(b) Up to the present no necessity has arisen for the situation to be dealt with in any other way than by the ordinary means at the disposal of the benevolent Fund of the Institution.

(c) At present there is no necessity for any joint action with the other Engineering Institutions.

A Letter (29 September 1914) was read from the Secretary of the British Engineers’ Association enclosing a copy of a report (XIVa) of the Council of that Association, with reference to the Royal Proclamation No.2 on “Trading with the Enemy”. The letter requested the view of the Institution Council on the subject, and suggested that the government might be approached with regard to a revision of the terms of the Proclamation. It was agreed to refer this matter to the German trade Committee for consideration and report.

It was resolved to take no action in regard to a letter (27 August 1914) from Mr E L Joseph (Ozonair Ltd, Victoria Street SW) in regard to the publication by the Technical Press of advertisements relating to German and Austrian goods.”

“A list of names of Belgian refugee engineers who had applied to the Institution for employment was submitted, and it was agreed to refer the list to the National Services Committee with power to act.”

“It was resolved that a letter of condolence be sent to Mr A P Trotter on the loss of his only son, who was recently killed in action in France while serving with the British Expeditionary Force.

It was agreed to extend to Belgian engineers now in this country the use of the Institution Library and Reading Rooms.”

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 02 October 2014 04:41 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

World War I Council Minutes of the IEE - September 1914

The following IEE Council minutes are extracts from the minutes of September 1914. Not all the minutes have been reproduced below, only those that directly relate to the war and its effects on the Institution.

Council meeting of 4 September 1914

“A report (ref 160/1) of the National Service Committee was received and adopted (see minute no.230, 7 August 1914). The following is a summary of the report:

Circular to members

Under the authority given by the Council at the meeting of the 7th August, the National Service Committee issued on the 11th August a circular letter (with reply form) inviting members to place their services at the disposal of the Institution in connection with the Army, the Navy, Public Services etc. In response to this circular 1,450 replies have up to the present been received, among which are:-

445 offers of service for the Army at home

425 offers of service for the Army at home or abroad


Utilization of offers received

The offers of service received have been placed at the disposal of the following Government Departments:-

The War Office, the Admiralty, the Post Office, the Colonial Office, the Home Office, the Scottish Office, the Office of Works, the Local Government Board, the Board of Trade, the Central Labour Exchange, the Royal Flying Corps, the Crown Agents for the Colonies.

So far none of these Departments have availed themselves of the Council’s offer.

The Committee have also sent circulars to the Chief Engineers of all the electricity and supply undertakings in the United Kingdom, informing them of

(a) the offers of service received by the Council and placing them at the disposal of the various undertakings;

(b) the precautions taken in London for the protection of the Electric Power Stations and for the security of the public supply of electricity.

The Committee recommend that a circular on the lines of the attached draft (ref. 160/2) be sent to those who have offered their services. Many of these are enquiring when they are likely to be called upon and state they would join the Regular or Territorial forces if not likely to be or not soon called upon by the Institution.

Vacancies to be filled

There is an increasing number of applications for men to fill vacancies in Power Stations (especially junior appointments), but as there are at present practically no supply station men unemployed, the Committee propose to enquire from those that have offered their services for this class or work (although at present in situations) whether they are willing to take up temporary work of this nature, subject to the approval of their employers of Chief Engineers being obtained.

Office Staff

S V Herring, a clerk on the Institution staff, has joined the Territorials. His salary is £50 per annum. The Committee recommend that during his absence with the forces he be paid his salary of an amount which together with his Army pay will be equal to his present salary.

Budget for remainder of year 2014.

The Committee have had before them a budget for the remainder of the year, from which it appears that if the expenditure does not exceed that for the corresponding period of last year and the entrance fees and subscriptions still to be received amount to about two-thirds of those for the same period of last year, it may be necessary to apply to the Institution bankers for an overdraft of some £1,300 before the end of the year. The Institution owns stocks of the value of £9,800, on which the overdraft could be secured until the 1915 subscriptions begin to come in.

It was agreed that the decision in the case of SV Herring should form a precedent for any other member of the staff who might join the Army during the present war.

Letters were considered from Mr W M Mordey (18 August and 1 September), Mr W B Woodhouse (18 August) and from Mr H Stoog (18 August).

It was resolved as follows:-

(a) In view of the opinion of the [How] Solicitors, contained in their letter of the 3rd September, to the effect that the Institution cannot lawfully make such contributions out if its funds, the Institution is unable to contribute to the Prince of wales National Relief Fund, or to the French Consul’s Fund for the assistance of the families of French soldiers.

(b) Not to remit, as a whole, the subscriptions of members serving with the Army or the Navy, but to deal on its own merits with any special case which may arise.

(c) To inform the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers’ Association that the Council understand that the Association are dealing with the question of securing for British manufacturers the trade hitherto done by Germany and Austria-Hungary, and that if desired the Council will be prepared to appoint a small special committee to keep in touch with them in this matter. The committee (if required) to consist of the President, Mr Gill, Mr Hammond, Mr Mordey and Sir John Snell.

Note: in connection with item (c), the following information was before the Council:-

Memorandum from Secretary                                          4 September 1914

Board of Trade Advisory Committee in regard to competition with Germany and Austria-Hungary in neutral markets.

Mr Mordey suggested yesterday that enquiries should be made whether the Board of Trade intended to appoint an Advisory Committee on the same lines as their recently appointed Chemical Committee, in regard to competition with Germany and Austria-Hungary in neutral markets.

I accordingly sent Mr Crowther this morning to various departments of the Board of Trade and ultimately Mr Crowther obtained an interview with Mr Maunder, Private Secretary to Mr Runciman, President of the Board of Trade, who afterwards took him to see Mr Runciman personally.

Mr Runciman said that it was not at present his intention that the Board of Trade should constitute an Electrical Committee on similar lines to those of the Chemical Committee recently appointed. He said that the Chemical trade presents special features which do not apply to the electrical industry, such as for instance the following:-

(a) There is a doubt whether the chemical trade can from its nature be carried out in the United Kingdom, since the trade in aniline dyes especially has never been carried on here to any large extent, and it will therefore require special machinery in order to introduce it in this country. The President stated that this did not apply to the electrical industry.

(b) The area covered by the chemical trade is so indefinite and complicated that it requires special study in order to define it.

(c) Details are not obtainable of the relative amounts of English and foreign capital employed in this trade.

Mr Runciman stated that full particulars of the electrical trade were known to the Board, especially in regard to those who carried it out, the magnitudes of the interests involved, and the possibilities of carrying on the trade equally well in the United Kingdom as in Germany and Austria.

He added that the Board would be pleased to consider the desirability of forming an Electrical Committee if perfectly definite proposals were laid before it by a responsible body, especially in regard to

(a) any part of the working of or propaganda relating to the industry not perfectly understood in this country or not understood at all.

(b) any sections of the industry which are carried on in Germany but are not carried on in this country.


Mr Mordey also brought before the Council the question of urging members of the Institution to place themselves at the disposal of the nation, and the President having stated that Mr A P Trotter desired to bring before the Council a scheme for the formation of one or more battalions consisting exclusively of members of professional bodies, it was agreed, after hearing the views of Mr Trotter, who was present at this stage by invitation of the Council, that the Presidents and Secretaries of the three principal engineering institutions (Civil, Electrical, Mechanical) should approach the War Office and take immediate steps in regard to forming one or more battalions consisting of members (of all classes) of these institutions.”

Council meeting of 11 September 1914

“The President reported the preliminary steps which had been taken with a view to the formation of an Infantry Battalion as part of the New Army consisting of members of the Institutions of Civil, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, as sanctioned at the last meeting of the Council.

At this stage Mr A G Lysten, President of the Institution of Civil Engineers, attended, accompanied by Mr E Worthington, Secretary of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and Major A B Carey RE.

Major Carey stated that about 670 engineers would be required for the Engineering Units of the Royal Naval Division recently sanctioned by the admiralty, and it was thereupon agreed, and it was thereupon agreed that in conjunction with the Institutions of Civil and Mechanical Engineers circulars be sent immediately to all the members inviting applications to join the new Units, and that a Special Recruiting Office for this purpose be opened in the Institution’s vacant rooms at No.2 Savoy Hill.

It was also decided that for the present no further steps be taken in regard to the formation of an Infantry Battalion.”

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology

Edited: 02 October 2014 at 04:32 PM by Jonathan Cable


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 02 October 2014 04:24 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

September 23, 2014
First IEE Member to Fall in World War 1 - Second-Lieutenant E W Wilson

Second-Lieutenant Eric Western Wilson of the 1st Bn. The Prince of Wales’s Own (West Yorkshire Regiment), died in combat on 20 September 1914, the first member of the IEE to die in World War 1. He had become a Student member of the IEE in 1912 and died at the age of 21 years, 2 months.

A photograph of Eric, and his obituary, including the full details surrounding his death were published in the IEE World War I Honour Roll and these details have been reproduced below.





Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 23 September 2014 06:00 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

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