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British Industrial History

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Willoughby Smith

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Willoughby S. Smith (1828-1891)

General

1828 April 16th. Born in Yarmouth.

1848 Started work for the Gutta Percha Co.

1855 Patent. '1848. To Samuel Statham, of Cloudesley-street, in the county of Middlesex, Gentleman, and Willoughby Smith, of Hoxton, in the same county, Mechanic, for the invention of "improvements in electric telegraph cables or cores for the same."'[1]

1856 Birth of son William Oliver Smith

1858 Patent. '1811. To Willoughby Smith, of No. 3, Montrose villas, Pownall-road, Dalston, in the county of Middlesex, for the invention of "an improved compound for coating or insulating electric telegraph wires, and for coating other surfaces."'[2]

1858 Birth and death of a son Willoughby Statham Smith

1859 Patent. '2809. To John Chatterton, of Highbury-terrace, and Willoughby Smith, of Pownall-road, Dalston, both in the county of Middlesex, for the invention of "improvements in insulating telegraphic conductors, and in the treatment of gutta percha."'[3]

1860 Patent. '107. To Willoughby Smith, of Pownall-road, Dalston, in the county of Middlesex, for the invention of "improvements in transferring designs, and in ornamenting glass and other surfaces, also in the manufacture of slides for magic lanterns."'[4]

1860 Patent. '1178. And to John Chatterton, of Highbury terrace, and Willoughby Smith, of Pownall road, Dalston, both in the county of Middlesex, for the invention of "improvements in electric telegraph conductors."'[5]

1860 Patent. '2056. And to John Chatterton, of Highbury terrace, and Willoughby Smith, of Pownall-road, Dalston, both in the county of Middlesex, for the invention of "improvements in the manufacture of telegraphic cables."'[6]

1861 Birth of son Willoughby Statham Smith

1861 Patent. '3138. To John Chatterton, of Highbury-terrace, and Willoughby Smith, of Pownall-road, Dalston, both in the county of Middlesex, for the invention of "improvements in the manufacture of electric telegraph cables."'[7]

1861 Patent. '175, To John Chatterton, of Highbury-terrace, and Willoughby Smith, of Pownall-road, Dalston, both in the county of Middlesex, for the invention of "improvements in the manufacture of telegraphic cables."'[8]

1861 Patent. '753. And John Chatterton, of Highbury, in the county of Middlesex, Engineer, and Willoughby Smith, of Dalston, in the same county, Electrician, have given the like notice in respect of the invention of "improvements in submarine telegraph cables."'[9]

1862 Patent. '413. And John Chatterton, of Highbury, in the county of Middlesex, Engineer, and Willoughby Smith, of Dalston, in the same county, Electrician, have given the like notice in respect of the invention of "improvements in telegraph cables."'[10]

1864 of 108 Great Russell Street, Bedford Square. [11]

1864 Patent. '1340. To Willoughby Smith, of New North-road, in the county of Middlesex, Electrician, for the invention of "improvements in 'tell tales,' or apparatus for registering or indicating the hour at which any desired apartment or spot has been visited."'[12]

1864 the Gutta Percha Co merged with Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Co. [13]

1865 Patent. '2765. To Willoughby Smith, of the Gutta Percha Works, Wharf-road, in the county of Middlesex, Electrical Engineer, for the invention of "improvements in testing and working submarine electric telegraph wires."'[14]

1871 Living at 44 New North Road, Hoxton Old Town: Willoughby Smith (age 43 born Great Yarmouth). an Electrician. With his wife Anne Smith (age 43 born Tottenham) and their children Harriett Smith (age 20 born Shoreditch); Hannah Smith (age 17 born Shoreditch); William Smith (age 15 born Shoreditch); Willoughby Smith (age 10 born Shoreditch); Sarah Smith (age 8 born Shoreditch); and Joseph Smith (age 6 born Shoreditch). Also his niece Alice Saunders (age 13 born Plumstead) and his mother-in-law Ann Allen (age 49 born Burrington, Camb). Four servants.[15]

1873 Appointed trustee. '...In the Matter of Charles Cousins, of 59, Pritchard's-road, Hackney-road, in the county of Middlesex, House Agent, a Bankrupt. Willoughby Smith, of Westbury House, Rippleside, in the county of Essex, Electrician, has been appointed Trustee of the property of the bankrupt...'[16]

1873 Observed and reported on the effect of light on the resistance of selenium[17]

1876 Patent. '4384. And to Willoughby Smith, of 18, Wharf road, City-road, for the invention of "improvements in joining telegraph wires."'[18]

1876 Patent. '3856. And to Willoughby Smith, of Wharf-road, in the county of Middlesex, Electrician, for the invention of "an improved protractor or instrument for ascertaining angles of elevation and depression."— A communication to him from abroad by Philip Bell Baldwin, Lieutenant, R.E., resident at Bangalore, Mysore, India.'[19]

1878 Patent. '3622. To Willoughby Smith, of 18, Wharf-road, City-road, in the county of Middlesex, for the invention of "improvements in submarine electric telegraph cables."'[20]

1883 President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

1891 Living at 3 North Grove, Hornsey: Willoughby Smith (age 62 born Yarmouth), Electrical Engineer and Electrician and Employer. With his wife Ann A. Smith (age 62 born Hackney) and their children Hannah E. Smith (age 37 born Hoxton) and Sarah C. Smith (age 28 born Dalston). Also his niece Alice K. Sanders (age 33 born Plumstead, Unmarried. Also a visitor and six servants.[21]

1891 July 17th. Died. 'On the l7th inst., at Eastbourne, Willoughby Smith, of North grove Highgate, Past President of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, aged 63.' [22]

1891 July 21st. Buried in Highgate Cemetery

1892 Concerns his estate. '...the estate of Willoughby Smith, late of 3, Northgrove, Highgate, in the county of Middlesex, and carrying on business at 101 and 102, St. Martin's Lane, Charing Cross, in the said county, as a Manufacturer of Electrical Instruments and Optician, under the style or firm of Elliott Brothers (who died on the 17th day of July, 1891, and whose will, with one codicil, was proved by William Oliver Smith, Willoughby Statham Smith, and George Davey Stibbard, the executors...'[23] [24]


DNB

DNB Vol 53 Published 1898.[25]

SMITH, WILLOUGEBY (1828-1891), telegraphic engineer, was born at Great Yarmouth on 16 April 1828.

In 1848 he entered the service of the Gutta Percha Company, London, and soon after this he commenced experimenting on covering iron or copper wire with gutta-percha for telegraphic or other electric purposes.

In 1849 the company had so far succeeded with the experiments that they undertook to supply thirty miles of copper wire, covered with gutta-percha, to be laid from Dover to Calais.

During 1849-50 Smith was engaged in the manufacture and laying of this line. The trouble caused by the imperfect system of making the joints induced him to give this subject special attention; in the cable laid over the same course in the following year, in the manufacture and laying of which he was actively engaged, he introduced a system of joint-making which proved a great success, and in 1855 he invented the present plan of joining and insulating the conductor.

From this time onward he was engaged either upon cable work or upon underground land-lines. Early in 1854 the first cable to be laid in. the Mediterranean was commenced. He had charge of the electrical department during its manufacture, and assisted Sir Charles Wheatstone with his experiments on the retardation of signals through this cable, while coiled at the works of Glass, Elliott, & Co, at East Greenwich. Smith look charge of the electrical department during the laying of this cable between Spezzia and Corsica, and Corsica and Sardinia, and in the following year was employed in the manufacture and laying of a cable between Sardinia and Bona in Algeria.

On his return he became electrician and manager of the wire department of the Gutta Percha works, and commenced making 2,500 miles of core for a cable from Ireland to Newfoundland.

In 1858 he gave up using coal-tar naphtha between the gutta-percha coverings of the wires, having invented an insulating and adhesive compound of a more suitable nature, This compound was generally adopted and is still in use.

In 1864 the works of Glass, Elliot, & Co. at Greenwich and the Gutta Percha Company were formed into The Telegraph Construction and Maintenance Company, when Smith retained his position at the works.

In 1865 he accompanied the Great Eastern steam-ship, and rendered assistance in the laying of the cable from Ireland to Newfoundland.

Early in 1866 he was appointed chief electrician to the Telegraph Construction Company, and was engaged on board the Great Eastern during the successful laying of the second cable from Ireland to Newfoundland, and the recovery and completion of the cable lost the previous year. Subsequently he took charge of the French Atlantic cable expedition. The cable was successfully laid, but the strain on his mind was so great that for a time he was quite incapacitated for work. After his recovery he experimented upon, and improved the manufacture of, gutta-percha for cable work.

He died at Eastbourne on 17 July 1891, and was buried in Highgate cemetery on 21 July,

Smith made many contributions to periodical literature and to the 6 Journal of the Institute of Telegraphic Engineers of which institution he was president in 1882-3.

In 1891 he published ' The Rise and Progress of Submarine Telegraphy’ in which he described some of his own work and experiences.

[Electrical Engineer, 24 July 1891, p. 85 ; Gordon's Physical Treatise on Electricity, 1883, ii. 299; Nature, 30 July 1891, p. 302; Times, 25 July 1891, p. 7.] GK C. B.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. [1] Gazette Issue 21768 published on the 24 August 1855. Page 20 of 35
  2. [2] Gazette Issue 22175 published on the 20 August 1858. Page 6 of 34
  3. [3] Gazette Issue 22339 published on the 23 December 1859. Page 8 of 36
  4. [4] Gazette Issue 22351 published on the 27 January 1860. Page 6 of 34
  5. [5] Gazette Issue 22391 published on the 1 June 1860. Page 22 of 44
  6. [6] Gazette Issue 22420 published on the 7 September 1860. Page 19 of 42
  7. [7] Gazette Issue 22469 published on the 11 January 1861. Page 6 of 38
  8. [8] Gazette Issue 22476 published on the 1 February 1861. Page 9 of 44
  9. [9] Gazette Issue 22523 published on the 25 June 1861. Page 12 of 42
  10. [10] Gazette Issue 22609 published on the 18 March 1862. Page 7 of 58
  11. The Engineer 1864/07/08
  12. [11] Gazette Issue 22864 published on the 17 June 1864. Page 6 of 48
  13. The Engineer 1891/07/31
  14. [12] Gazette Issue 23038 published on the 17 November 1865. Page 58 of 96
  15. 1871 Census
  16. [13] Gazette Issue 24009 published on the 19 August 1873. Page 37 of 38
  17. Biographical Dictionary of the History of Technology, edited by Lance Day and Ian McNeil, Routledge, 1996
  18. [14] Gazette Issue 24282 published on the 7 January 1876. Page 11 of 42
  19. [15] Gazette Issue 24374 published on the 20 October 1876. Page 12 of 46
  20. [16] Gazette Issue 24630 published on the 4 October 1878. Page 8 of 44
  21. 1891 Census
  22. The Engineer 1891/07/24
  23. [17] Gazette Issue 26241 published on the 5 January 1892. Page 25 of 68
  24. The Standard, Monday, January 04, 1892
  25. Wikipedia