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Francis Hird

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Francis Hird (1868-1926), managing director of Siemens Brothers and Co, Siemens and English Electric Lamp Co and Caxton Electric Developments. Also a director of Siemens and General Electric Railway Signal Co, Elliott Brothers, Enfield Cable Works, St. Helens Cable and Rubber Co and the Fixed Price Light Co

1868 Born in Paris of English parents.

1925 Succeeded Mr George Chauvin as managing director of Siemens Brothers and Co.[1]

1926 Obituary [2]

"We regret to have to put on record the death of Mr Francis Hird who was managing director of Siemens Brothers and Co the Siemens and English Electric Lamp Co and Caxton Electric Developments and a director of the Siemens and General Electric Railway Signal Co, Elliott Brothers, the Enfield Cable Works, the St. Helens Cable and Rubber Co and the Fixed Price Light Co.

Mr Hird was born - of British parentage - in Paris in 1868. He came to England in early childhood, and was educated at the Bradford Grammar School, from which he secured a National Sciences Exhibition at Trinity College, Cambridge, and studied under Professor J. J. Thomson at the Cavendish Laboratory. He obtained a First Class in the National Sciences Tripos, and took his degree of B.A. in 1887 at the rather unusually early age of nineteen...[More]

1926 Obituary [3]

FRANCIS HIRD, B.A., managing director of Siemens Brothers and Co. died on the 25th March, 1926, in his 59th year. He was born in 1867, the second son of William Hird of Darlington, and was educated at the Bradford Grammar School and at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he obtained a Natural Sciences Exhibition.

At Cambridge he devoted his attention to natural science, specializing in physics, and took a First Class in the Natural Science Tripos in 1887 at the unusually early age of 19.

Two years later he joined the staff of Messrs. Siemens Brothers and Co., with which firm the whole of his professional and business life was destined to be spent. In the earlier years of his connection with Siemens Brothers, Mr. Hird's attention was given chiefly to the technical side, and after three or four years' service he became chief dynamo designer to that company.

In September 1902 he was appointed chief engineer of the electric light and power department, and took a prominent part in forwarding the many important developments in electric lighting and power transmission which were taking place at that time. Amongst these may be mentioned the original equipment of the Waterloo and City Railway; a considerable portion of this was designed and constructed by Messrs. Siemens Brothers, and Mr. Hird took a keen personal interest in this contract and was responsible for many of the special features introduced in this, one of the earliest of the London "tube" railways.

When the dynamo works of Messrs. Siemens were removed from Woolwich to Stafford, Mr. Hird was acting as consulting engineer to the electric light and power department, and in that capacity was a frequent visitor to Stafford, although his headquarters were in London at York Mansions, and until 1904 when he was appointed manager of the Stafford Dynamo Works and took up a permanent residence at Stafford. This may be said to have been the turning point in his career, when it became necessary for him to devote more and more of his time to the administrative rather than the technical side of the business, and although the position he attained shows his great abilities in both administrative and commercial lines, he often used to deplore the fact that he could not devote more time to keeping up with the newer developments of science in its technical applications. In spite of these limitations his scientific and technical knowledge was of no mean quality, and his knack of getting as it were intuitively at the gist of the argument enabled him to advise his staff on any difficult technical problems, especially on new development work, and he was always ready to assist his departmental chiefs in any technical difficulty.

When Siemens Brothers decided on the policy of reorganizing the apparatus department at Woolwich on the lines of modern mass production, Mr. Hird was asked to return to Woolwich and take charge of the new organization.

In 1908 he was given charge of both the manufacturing and commercial sides of the apparatus department. In this capacity he had the opportunity of putting to work some of the first automatic telephone exchanges opened in this country. In June 1922 he was appointed general manager of Siemens Brothers and Co., and in April 1925 managing director of the company. On the 1st February, 1926, less than a year after this last appointment which crowned his career, he was taken ill whilst in the chair at a conference with his chief officials, and although his illness was not at first considered serious he never rallied, but gradually grew weaker.

During his 37 years' service with Siemens Brothers he saw and took part in nearly all the immense developments of the electrical industry which have taken place during the period; first in heavier engineering works, dynamo and central station design, and latterly in telephone and wireless work. Highly respected by his colleagues, he will be remembered by them and by the many leaders of the electrical industry with whom he came in personal contact, as a man of great technical and commercial abilities with a very quick grasp of any new problem, possessed of a strict sense of duty and devotion to the interests of the firm with which he was identified, and of invariable kindliness to all with whom he came in contact. All who knew him personally will feel that not only his firm but the whole electrical industry is the poorer from his untimely death. He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1903, and although the calls on his time did not allow of his taking a prominent part in its affairs, he always had its interests at heart. In 1906, while at Stafford, he served on the Committee of the Birmingham Local Section, now the South Midland Centre.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1925/04/24
  2. The Engineer 1926/04/02
  3. 1926 Institution of Electrical Engineers: Obituaries