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Alfred Jacques Makower

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Alfred Jacques Makower (1876-1941)

1941 Obituary [1]

ALFRED JAQUES MAKOWER, M.A., was born in London on the 9th May, 1876, and died on the 1st February, 1941.

He entered University College School in 1884, the College in 1894, Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1895 (where he took the Mathematical Tripos), and the Technical College, Charlottenburg, in 1898.

In 1900 he became a research engineer in the Union Elektricitats-Gesellschaft in Berlin, and in 1902 joined the British Thomson-Houston Co. at Rugby.

In 1904 he was appointed head of the Electrical Engineering Department at the Chelsea Polytechnic.

He was elected an Associate Member of The Institution in 1905, and became a Member in 1911. After some ten years at Chelsea he entered the electric vehicle industry. As Managing Director of Mossay and Co., and in association with Ransomes, Sims and Jeffries, he took part in the development work.

He also joined the Board of the Reavell-Mossay Pneumatic Tool Co.

During this period he became Chairman of the Electric Vehicle Committee of the Society of Motor Manufacturers, and of the Association of Electric Vehicle Manufacturers, and of similar bodies.

Makower and I met at Chelsea Polytechnic in 1904 and began a research partnership which became a lifelong friendship. In 1904 wireless telegraphy was the newest branch of electrical engineering. It was all spark, and we investigated the efficiency of generation of oscillations by sparks in all sorts of media, afterwards passing to the study of quenched sparks and then to the Poulsen arc. Most of our vacations were spent thus and resulted in the publication of papers in the Institution Journal and elsewhere. Then we bought one of Gaede's new pumps in Germany and started on high-vacuum work. My removal to University College terminated a partnership which will always be a happy memory. Makower continued his scientific work on atmospheric electricity with his brother Walter, the physicist. But Makower was distinguished in other directions. He was a notable musician, a linguist and a philanthropist. As a violinist he was among amateurs an outstanding leader, and the quartet he organized met regularly for more than forty years. Some of the most celebrated musicians visiting London - Hans Richter, for example - used to forgather at the home of Makower's parents and thus doubtless fostered his devotion to music.

When war came in 1914 he undertook certain electrical problems for the Services and in 1917 placed his knowledge of technology and languages at the disposal of the War Office as editor and, indeed, founder, of the famous Technical Supplement to the "Daily Review of the Foreign Press." But before the war the philanthropic call, which was to absorb the energy of his later years, had come to him.

In 1909 he became Hon. Secretary to the Science Section of the Educational Aid Society. Here he gained experience in judging candidates, which was, as it turned out, good preparation for greater work for the Board of Guardians for the Relief of the Jewish Poor and for the Professional Committee for Jewish Refugees. Of the former he was finally Vice-President, a high honour, and of the latter, Chairman, in which capacity he guided hundreds of highly qualified refugees towards the application of their talents here and overseas. In this work he showed that the main features of a remarkable character were kindliness, reasonableness and integrity.

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