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Archives biographies: William McClelland

William McClelland CB, OBE, CEng, FIEE was born 22 October 1873 and died on 24 January 1971. He was educated in Manchester (Ardwick Science Schools and Manchester Technical School), and commenced his electrical career in the Manchester Corporation Electricity Department in 1893 (1893-1901). William was then Principal Assistant to Charles H Wordingham CBE (1901-1903) during the latter’s Consulting practice in Manchester. He left there in 1903 to join the UK Admiralty, where, until 1906, he was involved in the design of electrical equipment and installation in warships. During this period William worked on the design and construction of King Edward VII Class battleships, County Class and Duke of Edinburgh Class cruisers, various destroyers and other ships.  

McClelland's work during the First World War

From 1906 to 1918 William was electrical engineering Assistant to the Director of Dockyards, Sir James B Marshall KCB in the Admiralty. In this position, he was responsible for the planning and setting to work of the new electricity generating stations and electricity supply and distribution systems in all HM dockyards and naval establishments at home and abroad. He was also responsible for the general management of HM Dockyard Electrical Engineering Departments including repairs of electrical installations in HM ships, and electrification of workshops, and for the rapid expansion of the dockyard electrical departments to meet their growing responsibilities. Also during this period, William served on important Defence Committees.

After the War

From 1919 to 1934 he was Director of Electrical Engineering and Principal Electrical Adviser to the Board of the Admiralty. This involved responsibility for the design, construction and completion of electrical work in all HM ships including HMS Hood, HMS Nelson, HMS Rodney, various classes of cruisers, destroyers, submarines, aircraft carriers, naval depot ships and auxiliary vessels. He did a world lecture tour in 1924 on the subject of submarine batteries.

William was awarded the OBE in January 1918 and the CB in June 1923. He retired from the Admiralty in 1934. On leaving the Admiralty, he joined the board of WT Henleys whom he worked for until his retirement in 1953. During this period at Henleys, he also became Chairman of Aeronautical & General Instruments Ltd.

Early in the Second World War, he served on a subcommittee on professional and technical staff at the UK Air Ministry.

He served on the IEE Council in 1933-36, was Honorary Treasurer in 1937-40, served on the IEE Benevolent Fund Committee in 1938-39, and received the treble premium in 1927; he served on the General Board of the UK National Physical Laboratory from 1929 to 1935.

Sources: IEE News obituary 12 July 1971 written by W.M.C; William McClelland personal papers, IET Archives collection NAEST 80. 

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