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British Industrial History

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Sydney Ernest Britton

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Sydney Ernest Britton (c1877-1946) M.I.E.E., M.Mech.E

1896-1899, Assistant Electrical Engineer, Southampton Corporation.

1899-1900 Engineer and Manager, Barking Electricity Undertaking.

1900-04 Electrical Engineer and Manager, Motherwell.

1904 Electrical Engineer and Manager, City of Chester, 22, Northgate Street, Chester. Private address: Selber House, Chester. Age: 62.

Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. [1]

1946 Obituary.[2]

SYDNEY ERNEST BRITTON, who died on the 25th June, 1946, at the age of 70, following a serious operation, was one of the outstanding personalities in rural electrification. He served his apprenticeship with Crompton and Co. at Chelmsford and then became an assistant electrical engineer at Southampton. His first public appointment was Electrical Engineer at Barking, and for three years he was Electrical Engineer and Manager at Motherwell. In 1904 he was appointed Engineer and Manager to the Chester Electricity Undertaking, and he held this appointment for 42 years until the time of his death.

Under his management, the Undertaking made rapid and continuous progress. He instituted its first rural extension in 1921. This pioneer effort was a great success, and further extensions were carried out until the electrical distribution covered practically the whole of the present supply area of 140 square miles. The erection of the hydro-electric station on the River Dee in 1912; the purchase of the generating station at Queensferry munition works; the erection of a 33-kV overhead line from Queensferry to Chester in 1922; and the illuminations in the city and on the river Dee were further outstanding events in his career.

The cutting of "red tape" and the promotion of legislation to reduce unnecessary restrictions and promote the wider use of electricity were matters very dear to his heart, and in the course of his life-long efforts he occupied many distinguished positions, being elected Chairman of the E.D.A. North Wales Area Committee in 1932, and President of the I.M.E.A. in 1934. His prominent work and experience of rural electrification were acknowledged when he was invited to become a member of the Electricity Commissioners' conference on electricity supply in rural areas, 1928; and in 1936 he gave evidence as an expert witness before the McGowan Committee. At the Third World Power Conference in Washington he presented a paper on rural electrification in Great Britain.

He joined The Institution as an Associate Member in 1902 and was elected a Member in 1909, serving as Chairman of the Mersey and North Wales Centre 1928-29. He was also a Member of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers.

1946 Obituary [3]

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