Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 143,344 pages of information and 230,027 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.
Wilson Hartnell (1839-1920) of Wilson Hartnell and Co, Volt Works, Leeds.
1887 Birth of son Cuthbert Hartnell
1891 Electric light for mines and works
1921 Obituary 
WILSON HARTNELL, one of the oldest and most respected engineers in Leeds, died on the 10th November, 1920, in his 82nd year, and notwithstanding his great age he maintained to the last an active interest in engineering matters.
In his earlier years he was in the drawing office of Messrs. Kitson & Co., Leeds, where he obtained considerable knowledge of locomotive design. Later, he was for a short time engaged in the manufacture of nuts and bolts. He was for some time agent in the Leeds district for Messrs. Crompton and Co.
About 1876 he became connected with Messrs. Marshall, Sons & Co., Ltd., Gainsborough, in the design of horizontal engines for industrial purposes working at a boiler pressure of 80 lb. per square inch which, in those days, was about the maximum for which steam boilers were constructed. These engines were made in sizes of from 12 to 35 nominal horse-power and proved very successful - many of them are still working. They were fitted with Mr. Hartnell's patent governor and automatic expansion gear. Mr. Hartnell's name is very widely known in connection with his isochronous governor, which is still manufactured. This governor was notable for its sensitiveness, ease of regulation, and " powerfulness," and gave much better results than the throttle valve and slow-running heavy-weight governors previously used.
Mr. Hartnell started in business for himself nearly 40 years ago and gave special attention to the design and manufacture of two-pole direct-current dynamos. His arc lamp also was at one time well known. For some years he made a speciality of the electric lighting of flour mills and was very well known in this connection.
He became a Member of the Institution in 1903 and was Chairman of the North Midland Centre during the session 1912-13, in addition to which he served for some years on the Committee and was a frequent contributor to the discussions. Before the Leeds Corporation adopted electric traction for the tramways he strenuously advocated in well-reasoned letters to the newspapers the adoption of that system as against the then much advocated cable system. Long before the formation of associations for protecting the interests of electrical manufacturers and contractors he was successful in bringing about associated action.
Whilst he did not take a prominent part in public affairs, he was ever ready both in trading and in civic life to stand up for what was for the benefit of his fellow citizens. He was a devoted churchman and at Roundhay, where he resided for a great many years, was a zealous member of the congregation of St. John's Church. As an indication of the esteem in which he was held locally, he was presented on the occasion of his 80th birthday with a silver rose bowl by a large number of his friends, including some of the most prominent citizens of Leeds.
He suffered a great bereavement during the early stages of the War in the loss of his only son, Lieutenant Cuthbert Hartnell, who was killed in action in France. He was married twice and is survived by his widow and two daughters.
1921 Obituary 
WILSON HARTNELL was born at Stroud, Glos., on 27th June 1839.
He spent his boyhood at St. Mary, Scilly Isles, where his father was for some time curate-in-charge, and from whom lie gained his scientific knowledge.
He served his apprenticeship with Messrs. Ferraby, of Stroud, and from there he went to Messrs. Bryan Donkin, of Bermondsey, and later to the drawing office of Messrs. Sharp, Stewart and Co., Manchester.
After some time spent in Edinburgh, and with Messrs. Kitson and Co., of Leeds, he began in business for himself at the Volt Works, Leeds, in 1871. Among his many inventions may be mentioned the Hartnell Governor, on which subject he read a Paper before this Institution in 1882. In January, 1920, he retired from active work.
His death took place in Leeds on 10th November 1920, at the age of eighty-one.
He became a Member of this Institution in 1872.