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British Industrial History

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St. George Lane Fox Pitt

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St. George Lane Fox Pitt (1856-1932)

Pioneer of electric lighting, otherwise known as George Lane-Fox

1856 Born in Malta; second son of Lieut-General Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt Rivers and his wife Alice

1877 Invented an electrical device for lighting public gas lamps[1].

1878 Invented the Lane-Fox system of electric lighting (using small incandescent lamps in parallel) and took out a patent on it which was one of the first in that field.

1878 Wrote a detailed letter to The Times making a case for public electricity supply by comparison with the well-known gas supply[2]

1881 Demonstration of electric lighting using incandescent lamps which were "almost identical" to those Mr Edison, Mr Swan and Mr Maxim but the system of distribution was different and patented. The demonstration was staged by British Electric Light Co in Palace chambers, Westminster. Mr Lane Fox also demonstrated that electricity could be used to boil water[3] Read a paper at the Society of Telegraph Engineers about the use of electricity for lighting and heating for domestic purposes[4].

1882 Describing himself as consulting electrical engineer of Threadneedle St, he advertised to warn others that an electrical distribution system using accumulators, dynamos and incandescent lamps was covered by his patent on 1878[5].

1882 Anglo-American Brush Electric Light Corporation placed its Lane-Fox Incandescent Lamp Department, Portpool Lane, in the charge of Mr St George Lane-Fox[6].

1882-1884: Lane Fox and the Vienna-based Anglo Austrian Brush Electrical Company Limited introduce electric street lighting to the whole town of Temesvar (modern-day Timișoara) in Hungary (now Romania).[7] Completed in 1884, this was one of the earliest and most extensive uses of electric street lighting in Europe at the time[8]

1884 Was briefly a director of the International Electric Company[9]

1892 Brought an action for infringement of his patent against R.E.B. Crompton's company, the Kensington and Knightsbridge Electric Lighting Co. Ltd.[10] in the High Court, but lost owing to "insufficiency" of the patent[11]. Later the same year, the Court of Appeal also ruled against Lane Fox, holding that his patent "was invalid on the grounds of variance, want of utility, and insufficiency of the Specification"[12]. A further appeal was then reported as being made to the Supreme Court, presenting his case himself (presumably lost there too)[13].

1912 Mr Campbell-Swinton remarked at the Royal Institution that Fox Pitt was "the first to imagine, or at least patent, a public electricity supply to all and sundry."

1932 Died at home in London

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times Dec 04, 1877
  2. The Times, Dec 26, 1878
  3. The Times, Feb 17, 1881
  4. The Times, Apr 16, 1881
  5. The Times, Oct 27, 1882
  6. The Morning Post, November 28, 1882
  7. Crompton, Rookes Evelyn Bell Crompton Reminiscences. (1928) London: Constable & Co. Ltd. p.131
  8. First electric illuminated city in Europe celebrates 130 years Business Review (November 2014).
  9. The Times, Jan 02, 1884
  10. The Times, Mar 19, 1892
  11. Reports of Patent, Design and Trade Mark Cases, Vol 9, Issue 23, 22 June 1892 (Page 221, lines 28-31)
  12. Reports of Patent, Design and Trade Mark Cases, Vol 9, Issue 37, 5 October 1892 (page 414 at lines 14-15)
  13. The Times Jul 05, 1892