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British Industrial History

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Herbert Kingsford

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Herbert Kingsford ( -1916)

1916 Obituary [1]

HERBERT KINGSFORD joined the electrical staff of the Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company in the early seventies and, after serving on several expeditions, transferred his services to the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, on board their cable steamer Mitila. During this time he also acted as cable engineer for the Canadian Government in connection with their cable system in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and around the Maritime Provinces.

When the Commercial Cable Company started, he took charge of the electrical department on board their cable steamer Mackay Bennett while she was in commission.

In 1886 he was appointed engineer to the Central and South American and Mexican Telegraph Companies, and continued in their service (latterly as superintendent) until his death, which occurred on the 5th February, 1916.

His principal contributions to the art of submarine cable testing are the modification of the Varley loop test, using uneven bridge arms, and the modification of the Blavier test. The first is an excellent and accurate method of determining the position of a fault in short lengths of cable; in the other case he pointed out the basic principle that the current through the fault must be maintained constant whether the distant end is freed or earthed.

He was also patentee of an electrical grapnel to indicate when the cable is hooked, as well as of a special form of wedge grip to secure the cable quickly at the bows. He was a man of original and trenchant ideas, vigorously and clearly expressed, widely read and travelled, full of anecdotes of the fast disappearing generation of cable pioneers, and he will be much missed by a wide circle of business and social friends on the West Coast of South America as well as elsewhere.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution in 1876 and a Member in 1886, and from the latter year until his death he acted as Local Honorary Secretary for Peru.

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