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Col. R.E.B. Crompton (1845-1940)

Information on Colonel Rookes Evelyn Bell Crompton who was a major pioneer of the electrical industry in the late 19th early 20th century. 

Illustration of the Crompton factory works from the Crompton Company catalogue

Colonel Rookes Evelyn Bell Crompton was a major pioneer of the electrical industry in the late 19th early 20th century. His interest in engineering began at school, and after a period in the army he joined T.H.P. Dennis & Co. in 1875. He soon formed his own company, Crompton & Co., and produced instruments, domestic appliances, lamps and almost every other electrical device.

He was the first major British manufacturer of generators, and his power station at Kensington Court, which began supply in 1887, represented one of the first practical supply schemes. He was also a champion of international electrical standardisation, and was instrumental in the formation of the International Electrotechnical Commission in 1906. He was twice President of the Institution.

Crompton's work with arc lamps began with Dennis & Co. He was dissatisfied with the French lamps he was importing, so he designed a lamp of his own based on the successful Serrin lamp. He placed the mechanism above the carbons so that it cast no downward shadow, and improved the regulating mechanism to reduce the amount of flickering. 

Crompton continued to improve arc lamp mechanisms, and his design based upon the Pochin lamp produced one of the best arc lamps available. To publicise the electric light, Crompton used portable generating sets to mount spectacular displays, including demonstrations at the Henley Regatta and Alexandra Palace in 1879. In 1880 he published one of the first lighting manuals, The Electric Light for Industrial Uses. 

In the same year he met Joseph Swan, and was impressed by Swan's incandescent lamp. Crompton and Swan worked together, their joint company installing both arc and filament lamps. Crompton's installations included the Law Courts, King's Cross station and the Opera House and several public buildings and theatres in Vienna. Crompton also pioneered the military searchlight, again using arc lamps.

There is more information in the R.E.B. Crompton biography and his work in the Featured Article: Crompton in India.

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