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Sydney William Baynes

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Sydney William Baynes (c1861-1930)

1930 Obituary [1]

SYDNEY WILLIAM BAYNES, a pioneer of the electrical industry, died on the 6th February, 1930, at the age of 69.

His mechanical training was obtained as an apprentice to the late Mr. A. P. Lundberg, whom he followed into the service of Messrs. Crompton in 1878. While yet a mere boy, he showed such aptitude and keenness that his firm put him in charge of arc-lighting systems when these were first installed, and he had in most cases to teach the workmen the use of their plant. The charge of portable arc-lighting equipment took him into all parts of the kingdom and abroad, and on the recommendation of the head of the firm he took charge of similar plant at the Forth Bridge works. He was actually in charge for Messrs. Crompton when Swan's lamps were used in public for the first time at the Glasgow Exhibition in 1880.

In 1888 he was appointed electrical engineer to the Bradford Corporation, the first municipal electricity undertaking in Great Britain, and in 1895 he entered the service of the Metropolitan Borough of St. Pancras, the first municipal electricity undertaking in London, as chief electrical engineer. He immediately set to work to double the pressure of supply, and in 1896 he was the first engineer to declare a 440-volt, 3-wire direct-current distribution with 220 volts to the middle wire. He was also one of the first supply engineers to foresee the immense possibilities of a cheap supply of electricity for manufacturing purposes.

In 1903 he again led the way with a scheme for a 3-phase, 5 000-volt, 50-cycle alternating-current transmission to substations in remote parts of the area of supply, and in 1905 he was one of the first to adopt Parsons turbines to replace reciprocating engines.

In 1912 he persuaded members of the Electricity Committee of the Borough Council to accompany him on a visit to Stockholm in order to investigate the Ljungstrom turbine, which was then being introduced to the electrical world. The first Brush-Ljungstrom turbine set (1 500 kW) made in England was installed in the St. Pancras power station.

He was early interested in pulverized fuel, and St. Pancras was one of the first municipal undertakings to adopt this system of firing.

Owing to ill health he retired from the service in December 1927, the Borough Council accepting his resignation with regret and placing on record their recognition and appreciation of the distinguished services he had rendered to the borough in connection with the development of the Council's electricity undertaking during his 32 years' service. Unfortunately his health remained indifferent, and he was unable in the remaining years of his life to secure the enjoyment that his strenuous efforts to cheapen the production of electrical energy had earned for him.

He joined the Institution as an Associate in 1889, and became a Member in 1891.

1930 Obituary[2]


Mr. Sydney William Baynes, whose death occurred at High Welwyn, Hertfordshire, on Thursday, February 6, at the age of 69, was one of the pioneers of electricity supply in this country and was, in fact, the doyen of those engaged in that capacity under a local authority. Though this connection began at Bradford as long ago as 1891, for the greater part of his life Mr. Baynes held the position of chief electrical engineer to the borough of St. Pancras, London, a post from which he retired only two years ago. This borough-was among the earliest to obtain powers to generate electricity, a supply being initially given in 1891 from a station in Regent’s Park. One of Mr. Baynes first duties, on his appointment in 1895, was to take over the erection of a new station in King’s Road, Camden Town. This station has since been largely extended, its present capacity being some 28,700 kw. It is one of the plants which is to continue to work under temporary arrangements as part of the South-East England scheme, and its output will shortly be increased by the addition of a 10,000-kw. unit. All the extensions except this last were carried out in accordance with Mr. Baynes’ designs, and embodied a number of features which, at the time of their installation, were distinct departures from existing practice.

Mr. Baynes had, in faot, always been a law unto himself. In the early days in Bradford he adopted hare copper distributors, which he operated at what was then a high pressure (about 500 volts), thus incurring the opposition of the fire insurance interests, but saving the capital expenditure, which would otherwise have been necessary on the mains system. This departure had the additional advantage that both the lighting and tramway loads could ’be supplied from the same generators. At St. Pancras he was among the first to use steam turbines instead of reciprocating engines, this type of prime mover being installed in 1905, while in 1914 he put down a Brush-Ljungstrom machine with an output of 1,500 kw., which was the first of its kind to he built in this country. Further units of the same make were added from time to time, the latest and the largest being one with an output of 12,500 kw., which was set to work early in 1928. He was equally enterprising with regard to the boiler equipment employed, and in 1926 installed two 40,000-lb. boilers, which were arranged for pulverised-fuel firing. This tradition is being kept up since considerable pioneer work has recently been.done at St. Pancras on the problem of removing sulphur from the flue gases.

Mr. Baynes was elected a member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1891, and also belonged to the Incorporated Municipal Electrical Association."

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