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British Industrial History

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William Pollard Digby

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William Pollard Digby (c1876-1943)

1943 Obituary [1]

...From about 1911 until quite recently, Mr. Digby practised as a consulting engineer specialising in electrical and mechanical work. Either by himself or in partnership he carried out many schemes, including hydro-electric plants and pipe lines....

1944 Obituary [2]

WILLIAM POLLARD DIGBY was well known as a consulting engineer, specializing in hydro-electric schemes and electrical plant. He received his technical education at the Crystal Palace School of engineering and served his apprenticeship at the Newton Electrical Works, Taunton.

In 1896 he went to New York to study the Woolf electrolytic process and in the same year he was appointed works superintendent to the British Electrozone Corporation with responsibility for the erection of the factory at Seaham Harbour. In the following year he worked under Professor Kanthack and Dr. S. Rideal on the sterilization of sewage effluents. From 1898 until 1901 he carried out experimental research in connection with the electrolytic production of sodium hypochlorite on an economic basis. During the next two years he was placed in charge of the test bed and later, of the drawing office, of the Buck Henrici Engineering Company of Berlin.

On his return to England in 1903 he was engaged on inspection and research work and at the same time acted as lecturer at the Crystal Palace School of Engineering until 1910. Two years later he began to practice as a consulting engineer and went into partnership with the late Mr. A. C. Heap, M.I.Mech.E. He was responsible either singly or jointly, for the inauguration of many important schemes and was personally responsible for the inspection and testing of hydro-electric plant. During the laying of the huge pipe lines of the Tummel Bridge hydroelectric power scheme he acted, jointly with Lt.-Commr. R. B. Fairthorne, R.N. (ret.), A.M.I.Mech.E., as resident engineer for Messrs. Balfour, Beatty and Company.

Early in the war of 1914-18 he volunteered for service in France, but not being accepted, he served in the Territorial Force of the Royal Engineers and from 1916 to 1920 was attached to the Ministry of Munitions. Mr. Digby, whose death occurred at Bournemouth on 5th July 1943 in his sixty-eighth year, was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1901 and was transferred to Membership in 1916. He was also a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. His inventions covered a very wide range and included the "Vibragraph" vibration measurer; the "Ulvanic" method of paint testing; a reflection meter; and (jointly with Mr. C. W. V. Biggs) the "Dionic" water tester. Latterly, his research in the field of chrome-copper stainless steels attracted considerable attention both here and in America.

In a fevered age, Mr. Digby never overlooked the simple courtesies, and he detested any form of cheap showmanship.

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