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John Douglas Knight

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John Douglas Knight (1867-1941)

1942 Obituary [1]

JOHN DOUGLAS KNIGHT was chief electrical engineer to the Corporation of Ealing from 1897 until his retirement in 1936, and during that period he was responsible for the design, erection and testing of the whole of the mechanical equipment and for the erection of a new distributing station, at a cost of approximately 4500,000.

He was born in Glasgow in 1867 and received his technical education at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College. After serving his apprenticeship in his father's engineering works from 1882 to 1884, with Messrs. Anderson and Munro from 1884 to 1889, and the Fairfield Engineering and Shipbuilding Company from 1889 to 1892 (part of which time was spent at sea), he received an appointment which he held until 1897 with Messrs. Siemens, Brothers and Company as assistant in the electric light and power department and was engaged in the installation of plant in electricity supply stations in Aberdeen, Belfast, Derby and London.

While in charge of the Ealing undertaking, Mr. Knight was able to pursue a scheme of steady development from 1908 to 1914, in which year extensive new works came under consideration, but it was not until 1924 that the project could be re-started. Mr. Knight then decided to close the generating station and take a supply of electricity in bulk. For this purpose a large new distributing station with ancillary buildings was erected under his direction. While this work was under construction he put a change-over scheme into operation for the whole of the borough; this was necessary as the generating frequency at Ealing was 40 cycles per second, whereas the bulk supply was to be taken at 50 cycles per second. At the same time there was a change-over of voltage as well as frequency, and the standard voltage of 230 was adopted. The work was completed in 1928.

In 1930 Mr. Knight put into operation a scheme for the high-tension distribution of electricity from the distributing station, involving the laying and jointing of approximately 6 miles of 33 kV. super-tension cable, looped into suitable substations; this voltage was stepped down directly to 400/230 volts, and also to 11,000 volts for further transmission to outlying substations. A further change-over from single- to three-phase supply was also carried out.

Mr. Knight, whose death occurred on 5th March 1941, was elected a Member of the Institution in 1908, and was also a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. He was one of the Regional Controllers in Middlesex during the war of 1914-18.

1941 Obituary [2]

JOHN DOUGLAS KNIGHT, who died on the 5th March, 1941, at the age of 74, was Borough Electrical Engineer and Manager to the Corporation of Ealing for over 40 years.

He was a Scotsman, born in Inverness, and was educated at the Highland High School, Glasgow, his technical education being obtained at Glasgow under Lord Kelvin and Prof. Andrew Jamieson.

He was apprenticed in his father's engineering works in Glasgow, and later worked in the engine shops of the Fairfield Engineering and Shipbuilding Co., Govan, Messrs. Caird's engine shops, Greenock, and the works of Messrs. Anderson and Munro and the Glasgow and South-Western Railway Co.

He acted as electrical supervisor for Lord Kelvin's private engineering practice, sailed as third engineer on a vessel of the Nederland Steamship Co., and was for 11 years on the staff of Messrs. Siemens Brothers.

In 1895 when the Ealing electricity undertaking was started, he became Electrical Engineer to what was then the Ealing Urban District Council.

He retired from the position of Borough Electrical Engineer and Manager in 1936, having seen the undertaking grow to one of the most progressive municipal electricity undertakings in Greater London. He was responsible for training many engineers in the electrical industry who now hold important positions and who could testify to the value of the training they received from him.

Two years after his retirement he was elected to the Ealing Town Council as a representative of the Grange Ward, and subsequently became Vice-Chairman of the Electricity Supply Committee, in which capacity he served up to the time of his death. Throughout his long service with the Corporation he always put service before self. It is interesting to record that a new road in the vicinity of the Ealing electricity station was named after him, and his name will always be associated with the undertaking which he commenced and so ably developed to such a high state of efficiency.

He was elected an Associate of The Institution in 1897 and a Member in 1898. R. B.

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