Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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T. Roles

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1940 Obituary [1]

POWER station engineers the world over will hear with sorrow of the death, on September 9th, of Mr. Thomas Roles, whose work at the Bradford power station gained the applause of all progressive engineers.

He was the first man in this country to adopt really high pressures and temperatures for municipal electricity supply. It was in 1930 that the extension of the Valley Road Power Station, Bradford, was completed with a boiler and turbine designed for 1100 lb. pressure at a temperature of 800 deg. Fah.

The nearest approach to those steam conditions in this country at that time was to be found at the I.C.I. 850 lb. plant, and the Ford 1250 lb. plant was in contemplation. But Roles, following American and Continental examples, had the honour of being the first to use a super-pressure in a public utility service in this country. What he did was to "compound" the existing 200 lb. plant at Valley Road by employing a turbine which could exhaust at a pressure of 205 lb. into the existing mains. The whole plant was British throughout and, as we remarked in a leading article at the time, "we have now had taken from us the reproach of having nothing of our own to talk about when very high-pressure steam is under discussion."

" Tommy " Roles, as his friends loved to call him, was barely sixty-four years of age. He was educated at the Brighton Technical School and was an Old Cromptonian. After some years' experiences in various power stations he became in 1904 assistant to the Chief Electrical Engineer, Bradford Corporation, and three years later was promoted to be the City Electrical Engineer and Manager.

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