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May 29, 2015
15th IEE Member to Fall in World War 1 - Private N V Lloyd

Private Norman Victor Lloyd of the I/6th Battalion, The Manchester Regiment, died 27 May 1915, the 15th member of the IEE to die in World War 1.

N V Lloyd entered the Municipal School of Technology, Manchester, in 1903, with a Manchester Corporation Scholarship and took the 3 year course in electrical engineering under Professor Schwartz. He then became a ‘College Apprentice (Electrical)’ with The British Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company. Following termination of the apprenticeship, he was engaged by the British Westinghouse Company, and appointed a Correspondent in the company’s Sales Management Department.

Upon declaration of the war in the summer of 1914, N V Lloyd relinquished his position in order to serve in the Army. By May 1915 after a brief spell in Egypt Norman’s Division was sent to the Gallipoli Peninsula. On the night of May 27th, his Battalion went forward to dig a new line of trenches within a short distance of the Turkish position at Krithia; he was hit during the advance to the site of the new line and mortally wounded. He was placed on a stretcher and whilst being conveyed to the Regimental Aid Post succumbed to his injuries.

Private Lloyd’s obituary was 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 @ 29 May 2015 05:10 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

IEE Institutional Involvement in WW1 - Council Minutes Extracts - May 1915

Council meeting of 27 May 1915

“468. The following reports and recommendations of the Finance Committee on various matters were adopted [only minute (b) showing]:

(b) Further enlistment of members of the staff.

The following members of the staff have applied for and have been granted permission to enlist (see Minute No.338(b), 14 January 1915):-

Name                   Age       Salary         Length of Service           Remark

H J Nunn             26          £110           12 ¼ years                      Married

C W Skinner       20            £80             2 ¼ years                       Single

F C Harris           17            £50             2 ½ years                       Single

The places of these employees will be kept open for them. In the case of Mr Nunn, the Committee have decided to pay him half salary and also the amount (about £5) of his contributions under the Staff Provident Scheme. In the case of Mr Skinner and Mr Harris, the Committee propose to pay no salary.”

“470. The President brought before the Council proposals which he had received from Mr H W Handcock in connection with

(a) making arrangements with the war Office for the employment in electricity supply stations of Territorials who have enlisted for Home Service only.

(b) the issue of certificates of exemption from military service of employees of electricity supply stations who cannot be spared (see Minute No.433, 15 April 1915).

It was agreed to inform Mr Handcock that the Council are unable to take action as suggested, and that the matters could best be dealt with as part of a scheme of national organisation.

It was further agreed to refer to the National Service Committee the question of employing disabled soldiers as switchboard attendants.”

“472. The President reported that at the Conference held on 6th May (see Minute No.449, 29 April 1915) of representatives of gas and electricity undertakings, resolutions were carried calling upon the government to take steps

(a) to increase the output of coal from the pits;

(b) to give greater facilities for the transport of coal by rail;

(c) to have regard, in requisitioning steam colliers, to the requirements of the public utility undertakings which depend for their supplies on sea-borne coal;

(d) to reduce the price of coal to reasonable limits;

and that a deputation had

(a) attended on the Coal Exports Control Committee appointed by the government, and laid before them the views of the Conference; and

(b) arranged for a Conference with Members of Parliament at the House of Commons at 5 o’clock on Wednesday, the 9th June.”

[Note: there were no Council meetings in June 1915]


Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 29 May 2015 04:20 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

May 20, 2015
13th and 14th IEE Members to Fall in World War 1

Lieutenant Sidney Gudgeon of the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, attached to 2nd Battalion, The Manchester Regiment, died 14 May 1915, the 13th member of the IEE to die in World War 1.

Second-Lieutenant Harry Gustav Byng of the 2nd Battalion, The Border Regiment, died 16 May 1915, the 14th member of the IEE to die in World War 1.

Sidney Gudgeon was employed in the Drawing Office of Electromotors Limited as an Electrical Designer when war was declared and relinquished his position in order to serve in the Army. On May 14 1915 he was superintending a working party of his unit engaged in digging new trenches near the German lines and they were working under continuous rifle fire from the Germans. Sidney was hit by a stray bullet, which pierced his heart and killed him instantaneously.

Harry Gustav Byng was the 3rd son of Gustav Byng, founder and First Chairman of The General Electric Company. After completing his studies at Harvard University in the USA, then exploring Canada, he spent a few months as a pupil with The General Electric Company of Schenectady, NY in 1913, before returning to the UK in late 1913 with the intention of taking up a position in his father’s company. When war was declared he decided to serve in the Army and enlisted. In the early hours of May 16 1915 there was an attack against the German position south of Festubert. Harry’s Division carried out this attack. Harry’s Battalion which was on the extreme left of the Division was held up for a time. Then whilst he was leading his Platoon forward in the attack, he was mortally wounded and died on the field at the spot where he had been struck down.

Lieutenant Gudgeon’s and Second-Lieutenant Byng’s obituaries 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 @ 20 May 2015 10:21 AM     World War I     Comments (0)  

May 14, 2015
Nuclear Reactor Plates in the IET Archives

Amongst the items held by the IET Archives are two nuclear reactor plates taken from the Merlin nuclear reactor. However, there is no need for the archivists to get out a Geiger counter every time we bring out the plates because they are information plaques attached to the outside of the reactor. The first plaque, shown below is from the opening of the reactor in November 1959.



The Merlin Reactor and Aldermaston

Merlin was a 5 MW research reactor at Aldermaston Court, Aldermaston, Berkshire, England, which operated from 6 November 1959 until 1962 before its license was revoked/surrendered in 1963. It was the first commercial scientific reactor in Britain and was privately owned and operated by Associated Electrical Industries (AEI). A British Pathé recording of the opening of the reactor (without sound) can be found on the British Pathé website here - Merlin Reactor Opening.

Aldermaston Court is a country house and park built in the Victorian era for the British Member of Parliament, Daniel Higford Davall Burr (1811-1885) with elements incorporated from buildings of earlier centuries that had been present on the site. In 1939 AEI bought the house and immediate grounds for £16,000, but despite this purchase, the government soon earmarked the location for an airfield, RAF Aldermaston. During WWII the land and house were requisitioned by the government as a barracks for the Women’s Land Army.

After the war, the airfield remained in use but after the airfield’s closure in 1950, the park was returned to AEI, which used it as a plasma research laboratory. AEI built the now demolished reactor between the house and its lake. This facility became the UK’s Atomic Weapons Research Establishment later the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) for research, commissioning, and de-commissioning of most such weapons.

How did the plaques come under the care of the IET Archives?

A little of the provenance of these items is unclear but they most likely came into the archives with the donation of the papers of Douglas Richard Chick, FIEE.

In 1946 Chick joined the Research Laboratory of AEI at Aldermaston, where he was appointed Section Leader of the Nuclear Physics Section. He later became Group Leader of the newly-formed Nuclear Sciences Group. In 1963, after the closure of the Merlin reactor, Chick moved to become Research Manager of the Vickers Company Research Laboratory, Ascot, where he remained until 1966, when he was appointed Professor and Head of the Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering at the new University of Surrey. The Chick papers include many of AEI’s research papers including reports about the Merlin reactor.

The second plaque, which is shown below, perhaps hints at the frustration of the engineers, technicians and scientists at Aldermaston when the Merlin reactor was shut down in 1962.

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 14 May 2015 09:01 AM     Archives     Comments (0)  

May 8, 2015
12th IEE Member to Fall in World War 1 - Sapper P A E Warburton


Sapper Piers Acton Eliot Warburton of the New Zealand Engineers, New Zealand Expeditionary Force, died 2 May 1915, the 12th member of the IEE to die in World War 1.

P A E Warburton moved from New Zealand to British Columbia, Canada, in June 1912 where he had obtained an appointment with the West Kootenay Power Company. He was working for this company when war was declared with Germany. When in August 1914 the Canadian Government announced its intention to raise troops for service in France, he offered himself as a recruit for the First Contingent of the Canadian Expeditionary Force. Being rejected on account of his eyesight, he resigned his position immediately and moved to England where he applied to be enrolled in the Divisional Engineers, Royal Naval Division. Again he was refused on account of his eyesight.

Strong representations were made on his behalf to the Military Authorities and he was eventually permitted to enlist in the British Section of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force which sailed for Egypt in December 1914. Sapper Warburton’s Division was then allotted to the newly created Mediterranean Expeditionary Force which was intended to invade the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, and his Division sailed for Turkey from Egypt in early April 1915. Whilst ‘on the sap’ at Quinn’s Post, Turkey, on April 30 1915, he was mortally wounded, being shot in the head by a sniper. He immediately became unconscious and was conveyed to the Hospital Ship Mashobra. Sapper Warburton succumbed to his wounds 2 days later (May 2nd).

Sapper Warburton's obituary was 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

Edited: 08 May 2015 at 11:29 AM by Jonathan Cable


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 08 May 2015 11:17 AM     World War I     Comments (0)  

May 1, 2015
Can You Really Trust a Label?

On occasion objects come into the archive collections which are labelled and usually these labels are taken at face value unless there is good reason to believe otherwise. However, we recently examined an object label which caused us to question the accuracy of the information on the label.

Through a chance set of circumstances two particular boxes of objects were brought back to the IET Archive Centre from storage at the same time. Once those boxes had arrived it was noticed that the online catalogue showed two items with a different reference number, supposedly one in each box, and each with an identical description.

The description for both items was ‘gavel set presented to the IEE by the Institution of Electrical and Electronics Technician Engineers upon the centenary of the IEE in 1971’.

The first thought was that there must be some duplication in the catalogue and there was an expectation that upon examining the contents of the boxes we would find that only one gavel existed. However, when we opened the boxes we did find a gavel set in each box.

The first gavel (new reference OPC/1/161/7) is shown below:

The wood for the gavel and stand match (wood colour and grain) and there is a metal engraved plate which says ‘THE INSTITUTION OF ELECTRICAL ENGINEERS - CENTENARY YEAR. Presented by the Institution of Electrical and Electronics Technician Engineers, 17 May 1971'

The second gavel (new reference OPC/1/161/9) is shown below:



The mount (in 2 sections), with typed label glued to the base, and its associated gavel appear to be a second gavel gift set (the set is the same colour and wood grain - though these are different from the first gavel set) presented by the Institution of Electrical and Electronics Technician Engineers to the IEE upon its centenary in 1971.

Which is the real gavel presented by the IEETE to the IEE in 1971?

Whilst it is possible that the IEETE gavel the IEE two sets of gavels and stands this would be highly unusual. If the IEETE only presented one gavel set then the question becomes which set is likely to be the genuine set? Our belief is that the top gavel set is the original as someone has gone to the effort of having a metal plate engraved and this would be an appropriate treatment for a centenary presentation gift from one professional body to another. It is also unlikely that an organisation would stick a typed label to such a high profile gift.

Our guess, and it is no better than a guess, is that the second gavel set was discovered without a label at some point after 1971 and that it was assumed to be the IEETE’s gavel gift. The 1970s was a period well before the advent of archive cataloguing software and tracking tools such as barcodes and even the IEE’s Archives only came into existence after 1970.

The catalogue entries for these two gavel sets have now been amended to refer to each other and to mention the uncertainty about the provenance of the second gavel set.

Note: The IEETE and the IEE are both predecessor organisations of the IET. The IEETE, after a number of mergers and name changes, was one of the organisations that merged to form the IIE in 1998, which itself merged with the IEE in 2006 to form the IET.

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 01 May 2015 04:54 PM     Archives     Comments (0)  

April 30, 2015
11th IEE Member to Fall in World War 1 - Lance-Corporal C H Hill

Lance-Corporal Charles Haydock Hill of the 16th Battalion (The Canadian Scottish) Manitoba Regiment, Canadian Expeditionary Force, died 28 April 1915, the 11th member of the IEE to die in World War 1. He was an Inspector in the Light and Power Department of the British Columbia Electrical Railway Company Ltd of Victoria, B.C., Canada, when the war was declared in summer 1914 and he relinquished his position shortly thereafter to serve in the Army.

Charles enlisted 31 August 1914 in the 50th Battalion (Gordon Highlanders of Canada) British Columbia Regiment, then stationed in Victoria, BC, where his military training was begun. He was drafted on September 23 to the 16th Battalion (The Canadian Scottish) Manitoba Regiment, one of the units of the First Contingent raised for active service in Europe. He was appointed a Lance-Corporal on the day of his transfer and sent to Valcartier Camp, Quebec, where his training continued until the First Canadian Contingent sailed for England.

In late April 1915 following heavy fighting which had lasted for many days Charles’ Brigade was sent on 25 April to the reserve trenches on the banks of the Yser Canal, behind the front line. Shortly after his arrival as he was about to enter a dug-out a high-explosive shell fire by the German artillery burst near him; he was hit by its fragments, which shot off both his legs. He was at once conveyed to No.18 Casualty Clearing Station, where he lingered on until April 28, and then passed away, owing to the intense shock caused to his system by the severity of his wounds.

A photograph of Lance-Corporal Hill, and his obituary 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

Edited: 30 April 2015 at 09:47 AM by Jonathan Cable


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 30 April 2015 09:39 AM     World War I     Comments (0)  

April 23, 2015
IEE Institutional Involvement in WW1 - Council Minutes Extracts - April 1915

Council meeting of 15 April 1915

“The following replies were reported as having been received in answer to the Council’s circular (see Minute No.407, 25 March 1915) to ascertain how many members, residing in the London area, would be willing to join the proposed Engineers’ Volunteer Training Corps:-

Class                           Affirmative         Doubtful             Negative              Total

Members                     19                      29                      21                         69

Associate Members   39                     26                      33                         98

Associates                     6                        9                        4                         19

Graduates                      1                        3                        7                         11

Students                         3                        1                      11                         15

TOTAL                           68                      68                      76                      212

It was agreed that this information be placed at the disposal of the Central Association Volunteer Corps so that enrolment forms may be issued by them, and that the views of the Local Section Committees in Great Britain be obtained before any action is taken in regard to members residing outside the London area.”

“The President reported that he had received a letter from the Institution of Civil Engineers asking him and another member to be nominated by the Council, to associate themselves with the President of the Institution of Civil Engineers and Sir John Wolfe Barry KCB, FRS, in making some representation to the Local Government Board, and subsequently if necessary, to the Treasury, with reference to the subject of the discrimination to be used in the restriction of expenditure upon engineering works for the public service at the present time (see Minute No.397, 11 March 1915) and to its bearing upon engineering and other activities in regard to the conclusion of the war.

It was agreed that Mr C P Sparks be appointed to serve with the President in this capacity.”

“The President brought before Council certain suggestions made to him by Mr Lawford Grant, Local Honorary Secretary for Canada, in regard to taking steps for the formation of a Local Centre of the Institution in Canada.

It was agreed that a draft letter, to be approved at the next meeting, be sent to Mr Grant explaining that, in the opinion of the Council, the present time is inopportune for adopting the proposal, but that it will be further considered after the termination of the war.”

“Letters (10 February and 30 March 1915) were read from Mr A V Mason inquiring whether anything can be done in regard to issuing badges to Central Station Engineers who have been prevented from joining His Majesty’s Forces on account of their services being required for the working of electricity stations.

It was agreed to inform him that the Council cannot undertake to issue badges as proposed, but that it is understood that certain supply companies have already done so on their own initiative.”

Council meeting of 29 April 1915

“The President reported that he had received letters from the President of the Institution of Gas Engineers pointing out the difficulties which are being experienced in connection with coal as regards:-

(a) depleted stocks;

(b) difficulty in obtaining fresh supplies;

(c) abnormal prices;

and suggesting a National Conference or representatives of gas and electricity undertakings to discuss the question of making concerted representations to the government on the matter, and asking the Council to grant the use of the lecture theatre for this purpose n Thursday 6th May at 3pm.

It was unanimously resolved:

(1) to agree to the suggested Conference and to grant the use of the lecture theatre as requested.

(2) that each electricity undertaking in the United Kingdom be invited by circular to send a delegate to the Conference, the Institution of Gas Engineers sending a similar circular to the gas undertakings.

(3) that Mr J S Highfield and Mr C P Sparks be appointed to attend a joint meeting at the Institution of Gas Engineers on Friday 30th April, to make the preliminary arrangements.”

“The President reported that at the request of the Engineering Adviser of the Central Association of Volunteer Training Corps, enrolment forms had been sent on its behalf to those who had expressed willingness to join the proposed Engineer Volunteer Training Corps.”

“A letter (29 March 1915) was read from the Honorary Secretary of the Engineer’s Unit of the National Guard, asking the Council to appoint a representative of the Institution to serve on the Committee which is being formed to manage the affairs of that Unit.

It was agreed that in view of the negotiations now in progress no useful purpose can be served by appointing a representative as desired.”

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 23 April 2015 01:31 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

WWI Experiences of Philip Vassar Hunter, IEE President 1933 and Honorary Fellow 1951

P V Hunter was the IEE’s President in 1933 was also made an Honorary Fellow of the IEE in 1951. The IEE recorded a film of him in 1951 and the film script reveals his experiences working in the Navy’s Anti-Submarine Division in WWI. His story, extracted from that script, is as follows;

“During the latter part of the 1914-1918 war, I was loaned to the Naval Staff as Chief Engineer of the Experiments and Research Section of the Anti-Submarine Division, engaged on developing new methods and devices for anti-submarine warfare. Captain W W Fisher RN was Head of the Division and Professor W H Bragg was Chief Scientific Officer. We three formed a Committee under the Chairmanship of Captain Fisher, which controlled all new work in the development of anti-submarine warfare. I was soon satisfied that the only method likely to give positive results was the supersonic echo. This was being developed by a young Canadian physicist named Dr Boyle who had been a pupil of Rutherford at Montreal. His scheme was to utilise the pieso-electric effect of quartz to produce supersonic reflections from the hull of a submarine. This all seems quite commonplace now but in 1917 it was, even by skilled technicians and physicists, regarded as visionary and impracticable. However, Boyle stuck to his guns and I shall never forget the day when he took me on board his little pinnace [note: a pinnace is a ship’s light boat propelled by oars or sails] in Harwich Harbour and, by means of lash-up equipment, obtained echoes from the submarines and destroyers lying at anchor there.”

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 23 April 2015 01:21 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

April 10, 2015
Early History of the IEE in the North-East and a Recent Discovery

The first local centre of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in the North-East was the Newcastle Local Section which was formed in 1899. The Teesside Branch was spun out of this Section in 1912 and became the Teesside Sub-Centre in 1919 whilst the Newcastle Local Section itself changed its name to the North-Eastern Centre in 1919.

A Recent Discovery of Early Minutes Belonging to the Newcastle Local Section

In 2014, a donation was made to the IET Archives of the minute book of the Newcastle Section (archive reference IET/CEN/15/1/94). The donor had no idea how the minute book came to be in his attic but we were nevertheless very grateful to receive this wonderful volume. The minute book covers the period 1913 to 1921 and includes not only the minutes of the Newcastle Local Section Committee and its successor the North-Eastern Centre Committee but also includes minutes of the Teesside Branch Committee.

Other than a list of the members of the 1913-1914 Dinner Committee pasted to the inside cover, the first entries are for the Annual General Meeting of the Section held in Armstrong College on Monday 26 May 1913 and the 12th Committee Meeting of the Section for the 1912-13 session held again at Armstrong College, Monday 22 September 1913. These first entries are shown below.



The minute book gives a particularly valuable insight into the regional activities of the IEE. Until the discovery of this volume the IET Archives only held the minutes of the North-Eastern Centre dating from after 1920.

Formal regional groupings of IEE members around the UK were called Centres for most of the 20th century. Centres organised most of their own affairs, and whilst they would usually send copies of their minutes to the IEE at Savoy Place in London they were under no obligation to send their original records to the IEE’s archives. The original IEE Centre minutes that exist today in the IET Archives are those that particular centres chose of their own volition to send to London and several gaps remain in the series of Centre minutes.

Are minutes really that interesting?

The IEE Centre minute books from the early 20th century are quite unlike a modern set of minutes where there is typically only a brief record of a meeting and where much of the detail is in the supporting reports. The early minute books were written in great detail, were very wide ranging and contain much social history as well as personal opinions.

As might be expected the Newcastle Local Section minute book contains details of lectures, visits, and dinners that formed key elements of the Section programme. For example the first lecture mentioned, which was given at the 1913 AGM, was on the subject of ‘notes on gas engines’ given by Albert P Pyne (many years later Albert became the Chairman of the Section). The September 1913 Committee minutes noted a recent visit to see the SS Tynemouth at the Walker Shipyard belonging to the famous shipbuilders Messrs Swan, Hunter & Wigham Richardson. Swan Hunter was well-known in the early 20th century for its building of RMS Carpathia in 1903 and RMS Mauretania in 1913. The SS Tynemouth of Newcastle was stranded off the coast of Northumberland in May 1913 and was probably in the Swan Hunter shipyard for repairs. The 1913 Board of Trade wreck report on the Tynemouth can be found here - SS Tynemouth wreck report. 

The minutes also discuss cooperation with the IEE in London and subjects of particular interest to the Section/Centre. There is also an example of the Centre adopting a different attitude to the IEE Council. In March 1919 the Centre Committee wrote to other Centres about an IEE Council decision to support a Board of Trade report on electric power supply with which the North-Eastern Centre ‘regretfully’ could not concur.

There is a significant amount of coverage in the minutes of the relationship of the Section/Centre with other technical and engineering organisations in the region such as the Junior Institution of Engineers and given the period covered there is a large amount of material relating to WWI.

The extract from the minutes shown below comes from a meeting held Monday 30 July 1917 in the boardroom of another famous North-Eastern engineering company, Merz & McLellan. The minutes shown discuss the proposed formation of an Electric Light & Signal Company and the committee proposed seeking the immediate cooperation of the Chamber of Commerce Electrical Section to organise a mass meeting of the electrical industry to bring this about.



Prominent and Noted Engineers Involved with the North-Eastern Centre

Many well-known engineers were Committee members and they have signed the pages of the minutes or have added entries by hand. These individuals include;

C Vernier (Section Chairman 1913).

Philip Vassar Hunter (Section Chairman 1914-1916 and President of the IEE 1933).

Henry William Clothier (Section Chairman 1916-1917).

Albert Henry Weaver Marshall (Section Chairman 1917-1918).

Albert P Pyne (Centre Chairman 1918-1919).

William Cross (Centre Chairman 1919-1920).

James Robert Beard (Centre Chairman 1920-1921 and President of the IEE 1940).

The eminence of the individuals can be illustrated by Philip Vassar Hunter (photograph below).



Philip Vassar Hunter was made the Head of the Electrical Department of Merz & McLellan in 1909, was loaned to the Naval Staff as Chief Engineer of the Experiments and Research Section of the Anti-Submarine Division for WWI, and after the war became Joint Manager and Chief Engineer of Callender’s Cable and Construction Company. When British Insulated Callender’s Cable Co (BICC) was formed in 1945 he became a Director and Engineer-in-Chief and later he became Deputy Chairman of the company.

P V Hunter as well as being the IEE’s President in 1933 was also made an Honorary Fellow of the IEE in 1951 and the IEE recorded a film of him in 1951 as it did of many other Honorary Fellows and Faraday medallists. The IET Archives holds film files including the scripts for many of these films including that of P V Hunter in which he talks about his experiences and work in WWI and WWII and the power distribution work carried out by Merz in the early 20th century.

History of Technology TPN Event in Newcastle – June 2015

There has always been a strong relationship between engineering and the North East of England and on the weekend of 6-7 June 2015 at the Newcastle Discovery Museum there will be a conference on the history of power generation, distribution, utilisation and other engineering specialisms. This conference is being organised by the History of Technology TPN and there will be an opportunity to visit the Discovery Museum’s ‘Arcs and Sparks’ collection. There will also be an optional visit on Sunday 7th June to Cragside House, a National Trust property which was the first private residence to employ hydroelectric power.

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 10 April 2015 03:09 PM     Archives     Comments (0)  

April 9, 2015
8th, 9th and 10th IEE Members to Fall in World War 1

Three IEE members fell in quick succession in the first few days of April 1915. Major Henry Herbert Stanley Marsh died 2nd April 1915, Lance-Sergeant Edgar Hoyle died 5th April 1915 and Trumpeter Norman Victor Foote died 7 April 1915.

Major H H S Marsh, a Canadian, commanded the 4th Field Company, 2nd London Division Engineers. His company was detailed on 1 April 1915 to dig some new trenches about 200 yards from the enemy’s line near Givenchy. While he was superintending the work he was hit in the abdomen and left hand by the fragments of a German shell which exploded nearby. He was conveyed to the Military Hospital at Béthune, where he succumbed to his injuries the following day.

Lance-Sergeant E Hoyle joined the Honourable Artillery Company shortly after the outbreak of war and was posted to its 1st Infantry Division. In January 1915 his Battalion was transferred to the 7th Infantry Brigade (3rd Division) and in March 1915 Edgar was promoted to Lance-Sergeant. On 5th April his unit was ordered to take over some trenches near Voormezeele to the west of St. Eloi. Having arrived at the point of the line to be held by his Company, he superintended the movement of his men into the bays assigned to his Platoon and had just begun speaking to his brother (Leonard Arthur Hoyle, AMIEE) who was serving in the Battalion with him at the time, when the enemy opened fire. Edgar was hit in the chest by a rifle bullet and died a few minutes later.

Trumpeter N V Foote, an Australian, as soon as the Government of the Commonwealth made known its intention to raise a Force for active service in Europe, re-enlisted in the First Contingent raised in Australia for the purpose, and was posted to his former regiment, now one of the units of the 1st Australian Light Horse Brigade. He sailed in the Star of England for Egypt 25 September 1914. On 30 January 1915, on his Regiment moving from Meadi, he accompanied his Squadron and went into camp with it at Zietun. Later his Squadron was stationed at Heliopolis. Whilst there he became ill with pneumonia, and was at once admitted into the Station Military Hospital, where 10 days later on 7 April 1915, he succumbed to his illness.

Photographs of Major Marsh, Lance-Sergeant Hoyle, and Trumpeter Foote and their obituaries 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 @ 09 April 2015 03:40 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

April 8, 2015
New content from Knovel

The IET library subscribes to nearly 300 full text book titles from Knovel. This content is updated yearly to refresh the selection and add new content into the subscription.


Here, I will give a brief outline of four titles:

The most used resource last year was:
Electrical Engineer's Reference Book (16th Edition)
Laughton, M.A.; Warne, D.F.

Electrical Engineer's Reference Book (16th Edition)













This text covers the following subject sections: General principles; materials and processes; control, power electronics and drives; environment; power generation; transmission and distribution; power systems; sectors of electricity use.

We also have a new edition of the popular:
Machinery's Handbook (29th Edition)
Oberg, Erik; Jones, Franklin D.; Horton, Holbrook L.; Ryffel, Henry H
Machinery's Handbook (29th Edit







Our new additions include:
Wind Power - The Industry Grows Up
Busby, Rebecca L.

Wind Power - The Industry Grows Up







A balanced and comprehensive view of the wind power industry

Simple Solutions to Energy Calculations (5th Edition)
Vaillencourt, Richard
Simple Solutions to Energy Calculations (5th Edition)

Building managers identify what to look for and how to evaluate before making a decision about which guarantee is better for their building and which ESCO can best deliver energy savings.

To see a video of a Basic search tutorial

To access the service:

Sign into the IET website and go to:


Edited: 10 April 2015 at 08:54 AM by Mike Dunne


    Posted By: Mike Dunne @ 08 April 2015 03:33 PM     Library     Comments (0)  

March 27, 2015
IEE Institutional Involvement in WW1 - Council Minutes Extracts - March 1915

Council meeting of 11 March 1915 

“The President brought before the Council the question of the Treasury restriction on loans to municipal authorities during the war. After discussion, it was agreed that the matter is one in regard to which the Council cannot usefully take any action.”

“In regard to the proposals recently before the Council (see Minute No.354 and No.360, 28 January 1915) relating to certain volunteer organisations, the president stated that he had received a letter from General Sir O’Moore Creagh, VC, inviting the Council’s co-operation in the formation of an Engineers’ Volunteer Corps affiliated to the Central Association Volunteer Training Corps.

It was agreed that the President should meet the Committee of this body with a view to obtaining a concrete proposal for submission to the Council, and that he be authorised to send a circular to the members on this matter, should he think it desirable to do so.”

Council meeting of 25 March 1915

“The deaths of one Associate Member and one Student, who had lost their lives on active service, and the resignations of two Associates were reported.

It was resolved that letters of condolence expressing the sympathy of the Council be sent to the families of all members who are killed or die on active service.”

“Mr H C Gunton attended at 4.45pm and explained to the Council the conditions under which it was desired to form an Engineer Volunteers Training Corps, affiliated to the Central Association Volunteer Training Corps (see Minute No.398, 11 March 1915). It was resolved that a circular be sent to members residing in the London area to ascertain how many would be likely to join the proposed Corps, if formed, and how many are already members of Volunteer Corps, and that the terms of the circular and reply form for this purpose be drawn up by the President and Mr Duddell.”

“A letter (15 March 1915) was read from Mr A Bergtheil suggesting to the Council that the discussion of certain commercial problems connected with the electrical industry should be introduced by the Institution, in order to assist electrical engineers and manufacturers to deal more successfully with commercial problems involving the capture of Germany’s trade.

It was agreed that Mr Bergtheil be informed of the action taken by the Council in appointing a German Trade Committee, and of the substance of the report presented by the Committee after consultation with representatives of the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers’ Association (see Minute No.337, 14 January 1915).”

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 27 March 2015 03:49 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

March 16, 2015
Transatlantic Cables, Mermaids and Messages in Bottles

The IET Archives has several important collections of papers, photographs and other material related to transatlantic telegraph cables. In particular collections related to the 1st and 2nd transatlantic cable expeditions of 1858 and 1865/66 respectively are frequently consulted by researchers. 

More information about these expeditions, including images, can be found on the IET Archives web pages here The First Transatlantic Telegraph 1858 and also here The Transatlantic Telegraph Cables 1865-1866. The IET Archives also holds segments of various transatlantic cables. The image below shows a section of what was to become the 2nd transatlantic cable.



The cable has been set in a brass ring and mounted on a wooden block probably intended as a presentation gift. The words inscribed on the brass ring are ‘ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH CABLE 1864’. The date might be a little perplexing as the 2nd transatlantic telegraph cable expedition didn’t commence until 1865. However, the cable for this 2nd expedition was already being manufactured by the Telegraph Construction & Maintenance Co. Ltd (Telcon) in 1864 and the cable was being stowed, and continually tested, on board the ship Great Eastern where the water tanks protected and preserved the gutta percha insulation (see ‘The Cable: The Wire That Changed the World’, by Gillian Cookson, 2003, p.140).

The manufacture of the cable was eventually completed in May 1865 and an invitation was sent out by Telcon to witness the completion of the cable’s manufacture on 29 May 1865 (invitation shown below in included in the ‘1865 Telegraph Album’, reference SC MSS 254).



Mermaids and the Early Transatlantic Cables

The state of progress with the transatlantic telegraph cable project featured regularly in the pages of the press of the day, and cartoonists often took the opportunity to poke fun often employing images of Neptune and mermaids. The illustration below is one such cartoon, published in Punch, 5 August 1865, and it accompanied a 5 verse poem titled, ‘Neptune to the Mermaids’ which celebrated the cable but implored the mermaids to leave it alone!



The caption for the cartoon titled, ‘a word to the mermaids’, has Neptune saying, “Ahoy there! Get off of that ‘ere cable can’t yer – that’s the way t’other one was wrecked!!!”

Later Transatlantic Cables

Another transatlantic cable collection in the IET Archives is that of Cecil Herbert Finnis (1885-1951), an electrical and mechanical engineer involved with Siemens Brothers’ cable laying vessel the CSS Faraday. (collection SC MSS 77). This includes Cecil’s handwritten diary from a cable repairing expedition carried out by the CSS Faraday in 1903. The cable to be repaired was that belonging to the Direct United States Cable Company (DUSCC) which had been laid in 1875.

The extensive diary entries include depth soundings and weather conditions from every one of the 73 days spent at sea beginning May 19th 1903. The diary begins, “started from Charlton [on the Thames river], opposite the works at about 6 pm. Father and some of the gents accompanies us to Gravesend & left at 8pm with the cry, ‘Simla’ after a lunch at 7 pm.”

The CSS Faraday was built in 1874 at Newcastle upon Tyne and was purpose-built for Siemens Brothers as William Siemens had found chartering vessels for cable-laying totally unsuitable. Over 50 years SS Faraday laid over 50,000 metres of cable before being sold for scrap in 1924. More information about the CSS Faraday can be found on the website titled History of the Atlantic Cable. Siemens’ own website also has a history of Siemens involvement with the transatlantic cable the DUSC and the CSS Faraday and can be found here Siemens and the CSS Faraday.

The image below is one of several photographs taken by Finnis on that expedition using a Kodak box camera and shows individuals on the deck of the CSS Faraday.



Message in a bottle

One of the more unusual items in the Finnis collection is a handwritten note that Finnis originally put into a bottle and dropped into the sea on Thursday 23 July 1903, the day on which the final splice of the DUSC took place. In that letter shown below, Finnis offered to pay a reward and expenses to any finder of the message in a bottle who returned it to Finnis at his home in Chiswick.



The letter was found over 5 months later by Joseph Andrew on Praa Sands beach near Marazion in Cornwall, UK on 12th January 1904 and it was returned by Mr Andrew to Cecil Finnis in order to obtain the reward (letter shown below).



To view and consult any of the items mentioned above please contact the IET Archive Centre.

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 16 March 2015 03:48 PM     Archives     Comments (0)  

7th IEE Member to Fall in World War 1 - Sapper W W Pullen

Sapper William Walter Pullen of the Divisional Engineers, Royal Naval Division, died 12 March 1915, the seventh member of the IEE to die in World War 1. He was the 1st Assistant Engineer in the Electricity Department of Leatherhead Corporation when the war was declared in summer 1914 and he relinquished his position shortly thereafter to serve in H M Forces.

Having enlisted in the newly raised Divisional Engineers, Royal Naval Division, in September 1914, Sapper Pullen’s unit was allotted to the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force in early 1915 which set sail for the Dardanelles on 28th February 1915. Sapper Pullen embarked on board HMT Somali but whilst on the voyage he fell victim to ‘spotted fever’ and was landed at Malta. He passed away in the Royal Naval Hospital, Malta, on March 12 1915, just a few days after being put ashore.

A photograph of Sapper Pullen, and his obituary 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 @ 16 March 2015 12:47 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

March 10, 2015
Sixth IEE Member to Fall in World War 1 - Second-Lieutenant J L Moffet

Second-Lieutenant John Leeson Moffet of the 3rd (Reserve) Battalion, attached to the 2nd Battalion The Royal Scots Fusiliers, died 10 March 1915, the sixth member of the IEE to die in World War 1. He was an Assistant Engineer with the Chloride Electrical Storage Company in Manchester when the war was declared in August 1914 and he relinquished his position shortly thereafter to join the Army.

Second-Lieutenant Moffet died during the Battle of Neuve Chapelle (March 10-13 1915) when on March 10th, whilst leading his Platoon, he came under machine-gun fire and was killed instantaneously.

A photograph of Second-Lieutenant Moffet, and his obituary 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 @ 10 March 2015 03:00 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

February 20, 2015
IEE Institutional Involvement in WW1, Council Minutes Extracts - February 1915

Council meeting of 11 February 1915

“The following Report of the Examinations Committee was adopted in regard to a suggestion (see Minute No.351, 28 January 1915) that territorial Officers of the R.E. and R.G.A. and Officers holding temporary commissions in these two Corps should be exempted from the Associate Membership Examination:-

‘Under the existing Examination Regulations, Commissioned Officers of the Royal Engineers, Royal Artillery and Royal Navy (Lieutenants (T) and Engineering Branch) who have passed through the full prescribed course at the recognised Military and Naval Schools are by reason of their training at these Schools exempted from the Associate Membership Examination. The Committee recommend that no change be made in this rule and that the suggested future exemptions be not granted’.”

“On the recommendation of the Science Abstracts Committee it was agreed that application be made to the Committee on Trading with the Enemy for a licence to import certain German and Austrian technical publication abstracts from which were, until the war, regularly published in Science Abstracts, and to ask the Physical Society to concur in the application.”

“A letter (2 February 1915) was read from some members of the Institution at present serving in the Divisional Engineers Unit of the Royal Naval Division, with reference to their subscriptions.

It was resolved that a letter be written informing them of the decision of the Council on this question (see Minute No.234 (b), 4 September 1914).”

“A letter (9 February 1915) was read from Mr A R Tankard, of the Chemical and Bacteriological Laboratories, Hull, suggesting that the Council pass a resolution bringing to the notice of the Prime Minister, the War Office, and the Foreign Secretary, the serious consequences to the British Empire and its Allies of the action of the Government in allowing ship cargoes of cotton to proceed unmolested even when the admitted destination is Germany.

It was agreed that the matter was not one which could properly be dealt with by the Council, and that Mr Tankard be informed accordingly.”

Council meeting of 25 February 1915

“A letter (13 February 1915) was read from the Secretary of the North-East Coast Institution of Engineers and Shipbuilders, stating that a meeting of that Institution would be held on the 26th February 1915 when a report on the events which have led up to the classification of Engineer Officers as part of the Military Branch of His Majesty’s Navy would be presented by Mr D B Morrison; and requesting the Institution to nominate a representative to express an opinion on the effect which the raising of the status of these officers has, or will have on:-

(a) Naval efficiency.

(b) The status of the engineering profession generally.

The President reported that owing to the short time available he had replied that the Institution would not be able to appoint a delegate, and his action was approved.”


“The following reports of the Finance Committee were received and adopted [only point (a) shown]

(a) The Wounded Allies Relief Committee have been unable to accept the Council’s offer in regard to the first floor rooms (see Minute No.338(a), 14 January 1915).

“It was resolved to circulate among the members of Council copies of a letter (21 February 1915) from Lieutenant H L Bazalgette RE asking for non-technical magazines or illustrated papers for the use of a searchlight detachment stationed near Plymouth under his charge.”

“Mr Duddell reported that, as the result of an appeal made by him to past and present members of Council, he had been able to send the following articles to the men of the Engineer Units of the Royal Naval Division:-

1st instalment

177 pairs of socks

147 pairs of mittens

52 scarves

17 belts

8 helmets

2nd instalment

100 scarves

100 pairs of mittens

27 pairs of socks

12 cardigans

12 jerseys

13 helmets

11 packets of chocolate

8 shirts

4 belts

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 20 February 2015 04:42 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

February 19, 2015
28 February 2015 - 80th Anniversary of the Birth of British Radar

On the 26th February 1935 a test took place known as ‘The Daventry Experiment’ which is considered to be the precursor of radar in Britain. The test involved the Daventry transmitter of the BBC’s Empire Service and an RAF Heyford bomber which had been assigned to this test by the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough.

The full story of The Daventry Experiment, written by Brian Austin appears in the February/March 2015 issue (issue no. 153) of the vintage radio enthusiast magazine ‘Radio Bygones’. I am grateful to Brian for allowing me to extract elements from his story.

The plan was for the bomber pilot, Flight Lieutenant R S Blucke to fly to Daventry where, on arrival, Blucke would fire a Verey light to indicate his presence. He would then follow a particular course that would take him along the transmitted beam from the BBC transmitter at an altitude of 6,000 feet. After executing an about turn over some designated marker he would fly back to Daventry while losing altitude to around 1,000 feet. After firing another Verey light he would then return home.

On the ground, near to the village of Weedon, Sir Robert Watson-Watt and A P Rowe from the Air Ministry had joined Arnold Wilkins, a Scientific Officer at the Radio Research Station (RRS) a vastly experienced radio engineer, together with the driver of a converted Morris ex-ambulance that was used as the RRS’s ‘travelling laboratory’. The previous night in preparation for the test, Wilkins and the driver had erected two parallel antennas in a co-operative farmer’s field.

When Blucke’s aircraft appeared on the morning of the 26th February it was initially well to the east of the agreed flight path and no indication of its presence appeared on the cathode ray tube (CRT) screen. However, on its next pass, now closer to the observers, there were definite variations on the CRT screen – described by Wilkins as a ‘rhythmic beating’. This happened again on the following run and Wilkins and Watson-Watt estimated that they were able to observe the Heyford over a distance of about 8 miles.

There was much more to be done before Watson-Watt’s eventual radar system, came into existence but it all began with this Daventry experiment.

Sir Robert Watson-Watt and Radar

Sir Robert Watson-Watt (1892 – 1973), known as the father of British radar, was celebrated in an IEE History of Technology lecture in February 1993 to mark the centenary of Watson-Watt’s birth. Sir Robert, who had been a member of the IEE, had also been at one time the Chairman of the IEE’s Radio Section. An abstract from that lecture, written by the lecturer, Professor R Hanbury Brown, is set out below;

“Radar was ‘invented’ by Watson-Watt in response to an enquiry about a death-ray. His great achievement was not simply to invent a new gadget; it was to apply this invention to an urgent and historically important problem, the air defence of Great Britain. The original work on RDF, as radar was called, started secretly in 1935 at Orfordness. In 1936 it was moved to a nearby mansion, Bawdsey Manor, where for three years Watson-Watt was the Superintendent and the lecturer was a junior member of the staff. The principal objective to this early work was to develop a chain of radar stations to detect and locate enemy aircraft so that Fighter Command could intercept them. The first, almost disastrous, attempt to demonstrate this use of radar in 1936 is described. In due course a chain of radar stations (CH) was built all-round the coast and proved to be a vital factor in the defence against daytime raids of the Battle of Britain. For defence at night Watson-Watt, perhaps prompted by Sir Henry Tizard, foresaw the need for a radar to be carried in the fighter and in 1936 he started the first and only team in the world working on airborne radar. Radar-equipped night-fighters (AI), guided by ground control radars (GCI), were used effectively against the heavy night raids in 1941. In 1938 Watson-Watt left Bawdsey for the corridors of power in Whitehall. After the war he formed a small firm of scientific consultants and eventually moved to Canada.”

A video version of the lecture was made featuring Professor Brown presenting his lecture material, interspersed with many images and film clips (archive reference IET/SPE/3/2/7/1). It covered Watson-Watts' history and his involvement with the early days of radar. The video has been digitised and is available to watch via the IET Archives Centre.

Professor Brown worked with Watson-Watt at Bawdsey Manor as a junior member of the team and tells many fond stories about Watson-Watt including his humorous use of unintelligible phrases which Brown used to ‘collect’. The image from the video below shows the Professor mentioning one such phrase which is captioned. Watson-Watt used this phrase when describing his position in the UK to Chiefs-of-Staff in Washington.



IET Archive letter from Sir Robert

Whilst the IET Archives does not hold a great deal of Watson’s-Watt’s own material there is a curious letter in the IET Archives in the Owen S Puckle collection (NAEST 101) written by Watson-Watt in New York to Puckle – see image below.



In the letter Sir Robert thanks Puckle for an earlier letter of congratulation (Puckle assisted in the development of the ‘Radio Location’ device). Whilst Sir Robert received many accolades during his lifetime and held many official positions with various institutions it is not clear to what the earlier congratulatory letter refers as most of Sir Robert’s awards came earlier in his life than 1952. Watson Watt did re-marry for the second time in 1952. He married Jean Wilkinson, a Canadian, the widow of historian Professor George M Smith, so perhaps Puckle was referring to Sir Robert’s forthcoming marriage?

For those interested in the history of radar the IET Archives also holds many relevant collections including Sean Swords’ collection of papers on radar (NAEST 144). Sean Swords wrote the ‘Technical History of the Beginnings of RADAR’ in 1986 and this collection comprises correspondence and material used in the production of that book. For example there is a copy of the 1935 letter to H T Tizard from A P Rowe regarding the secret memorandum prepared by Watson-Watt on the possible use of electromagnetic radiation for air defence.

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 19 February 2015 05:17 PM     Archives     Comments (0)  

February 17, 2015
Fifth IEE Member to Fall in World War 1 - Lance-Corporal J A Donald

Lance-Corporal Josiah Alfred Donald of the Divisional Engineers, Royal Naval Division died 14 February 1915, the fifth member of the IEE to die in World War 1. In August 1914, Josiah relinquished his position with Blackpool Corporation in order to serve in HM Forces and enlisted in the then newly raised Divisional Engineers, Royal Naval Division in September 2014. Following military training Josiah served as a Despatch Rider in No.38 Signal Section at Upper Walmer, Kent and was appointed Lance-Corporal 2 February 1915. Only a few days later, he was given sick leave and sent home to Blackpool where he died suddenly of heart failure on 14 February.

A photograph of Lance-Corporal Donald, and his obituary 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 @ 17 February 2015 04:56 PM     World War I     Comments (0)  

February 11, 2015
Artistic and Literary Connections in the IET Archives - Diana Lodge

Within a recent donation to the IET Archives covering several different collections, there was a single audio cassette tape, unrelated to the other items and annotated ‘Diana, Colin and Tom Lodge 1995’. The tape recording was donated by the researcher who in 1995 interviewed Diana, Colin and Tom Lodge at Diana’s home of ‘Trillgate’ in Slad, Gloucestershire and this was a tape of that interview. A copy of a painting of ‘Trillgate’, painted by Diana and used as a card illustration, is shown below.



The reason for conducting the interview was that the researcher was interested in the eminent British physicist and writer Sir Oliver Lodge FRS (1851-1940) who was involved, amongst other things, with important developments in wireless telegraphy. Diana Lodge, the interviewee, was the 2nd wife of Sir Oliver’s eldest son also called Oliver Lodge. Diana had many memories of Sir Oliver Lodge from her earlier life and it is some of these memories that are recorded on the cassette tape.

In addition to his important scientific contributions Sir Oliver Lodge is also known for his studies in psychical research and spiritualism and he wrote many books on the subject. For those interested in finding out more about Sir Oliver, the 1974 biography called, ‘Sir Oliver Lodge’, by W P Jolly, can be found in the IET Library. The IET Archives also has a number of letters written by Sir Oliver Lodge to W H Preece (see collection NAEST 21). For example in the letter below dated 4 March 1898 Sir Oliver writes to Preece about his magnetic telegraphy scheme about which he says, ‘naturally I should like the Government to take it up, as I believe that it is the most powerful and by far the simplest plan possible’. This letter is shown below.



Given the importance of Sir Oliver Lodge it would be easy to overlook the interviewee, Diana Lodge, but Diana also had a fascinating, but very different life.

Diana Lodge

Diana Lodge (1906-1998), the Welsh painter, was born Diana Violet Irene Mabel Uppington, and became the second wife of Oliver W F Lodge in 1932. Oliver William Foster Lodge was a poet, author and painter unlike his 5 brothers who all qualified as engineers. He was a member of the Bloomsbury Group and associated with artists such as Eric Gill and David Jones.

Oliver W F Lodge met Diana Uppington, 10 years after the death of his first wife in childbirth, when she answered his advertisement for a model. Diana had previously modelled for other artists and had appeared on stage as a Tiller Girl. Following Oliver’s death in 1955, Diana changed her name by deed poll to Diana Kohr following her involvement with the Austrian economist Leopold Kohr, who had met Oliver and Diana in the USA during WWII. She changed her surname back to Lodge in 1966 following her separation from Kohr. Continuing the literary connections Diana was also a neighbour and friend of the writer Laurie Lee. A television documentary for HTV called ‘Inner Journeys’ by Jonathan Stedall was aired in 1993 and covered personal stories of ten individuals including Diana.

Given Diana’s background it is perhaps fitting that the first story she tells during her interview is about visiting her father-in-law in the period before WWII (after Sir Oliver’s wife Mary had passed away). At that time Diana recalled that two of Sir Oliver’s daughters, Lorna (1892-1987) and Norah (1894-1990) took it in turns to stay with Sir Oliver and look after him. Diana stayed with Lorna and they, together with another daughter Violet, visited Sir Oliver at his home, Normanton House, and pretended to be a Russian dancing troupe. Diana remembered Sir Oliver putting an arm around her shoulders and saying, ‘this one can dance’! Diana also recalled that every night before bed at Normanton House they would dance, typically a waltz.

The interview, around 55 minutes long, only contains a limited number of stories and comments about Sir Oliver, typically tributes about his character. The interview, which was also conducted with Diana’s sons Colin (1944-2006) and Tom (1936-2012), contains many more reminiscences about Sir Oliver’s other children including Brodie (1880-1967) and Alec (1881-1938) who set up the Lodge Plug Company and also Raymond who died in WWI at Ypres. It was a poignant moment during the interview when Diana read out 2 poems written by her late husband Oliver W F Lodge, one in memory of Oliver’s brother Raymond, and one in memory of his father Sir Oliver.

Tom Lodge, another interviewee was no less interesting. He moved to Calgary, Canada, when he was 18 and became a cowboy, a used-car salesman, a fisherman and a gold-miner before becoming an announcer for the Canadian Broadcasting Company. On his return to the UK he was involved with the launch of Radio Caroline and became one of its presenters (Tom’s obituary can be found in The Independent, 2 April 2012).

The audio cassette has been digitised and catalogued (reference SC MSS 236) and it can be consulted in the IET Archive Centre.

Jon Cable
Assistant Archivist
The Institution of Engineering and Technology


    Posted By: Jonathan Cable @ 11 February 2015 05:22 PM     Archives     Comments (0)  

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