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British Industrial History

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William Maurice

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William Maurice (1872-1951), founder of the Wolf Safety Lamp Co, a manufacturer of safety lamps for mining and quarrying; he had purchased the business rights from Friemann and Wolf of Zwickau, Saxony, Germany, in 1910.

1908 Birth of daughter Helen Monica Maurice

1951 Obituary.[1]

William Maurice, who died on the 10th July, 1951, was born on the 11th February, 1872. He received his engineering education at Manchester Technical College and his practical training with J. Davis and Son, Derby. On completing his apprenticeship he remained with that company for a few years. In 1892-93 he was in South Africa on their behalf, and in 1894 he was appointed Electrical Engineer at Swanwick Collieries, Alfreton, where he subsequently became Assistant to the Manager, under whom he qualified as a colliery manager. In 1899 he was appointed Manager of the Babbington Coal Co.'s Tibshelf New Colliery, and in 1903 he went to Hucknall Collieries, near Nottingham, as General Mine Manager. In 1905 he installed at Hucknall Torkard the first exhaust-steam turbo-alternator to be used in a British mine, and in 1908 he added a booster motor-generator and equalizing battery. He was the first to develop the thin seams of the Leen Valley and the first to use electric coal-cutters in that area. In 1911 he left Hucknall Torkard and entered into an agreement with the firm of Friemann and Wolf, of Saxony, for the purpose of re-establishing the Wolf Safety Lamp Co., of Leeds, in Sheffield, and in 1916 he purchased the entire English business of the company. From 1920, for more than ten years, he was also associated with the Concordia Co. (C.E.A.G.) of Dortmund.

In 1912-13 he developed the first "alkaline" lamp to be so called; the first large installation of these lamps was at Grassmore Collieries in 1914. Many important improvements were made in 1919 and again in 1924, when the first two-part lamps were installed at Birchenwood Collieries, Kidsgrove. The first 4-volt (lead-acid accumulator) miner's hand-lamp of modern design was produced by his Federation Lamp Co. in 1928; and the first alkaline battery with Edison tubular positive plates and concentric terminals was produced by that company in 1930. In 1932 he formed another company—the Wolf Safety Lamp (Hiring) Co.—and in 1933 he purchased the premises known as the Saxon Road Works, Heeley, Sheffield, which he reconstructed and equipped with new electrically operated machinery for the more economical production of his Wolf lamps and alkaline accumulators.

He joined The Institution as an Associate in 1896 and was elected an Associate Member in 1899 and a Member in 1909, in which year he organized and founded the Association of Mining Electrical Engineers. The same year saw the publication of his "Shot-Firer's Guide"—a practical manual on electric blasting apparatus and explosives, and on the prevention of accidents in mines. His paper on "The Evolution of the Miner's Electric Hand-Lamp," for which he was awarded a premium, was published in the Journal in 1937.

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