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British Industrial History

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Alphonse Reyrolle

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Alphonse Constant Reyrolle (1864-1919), MIEE, founder of A. Reyrolle and Co.

1864 Born in Juillac, Correze, France.[1]

c.1883 Moved to London where he joined A. Lege and Co, scientific instrument makers.[1]

1886 Established his own company.

1901 Moved to Hebburn, Tyneside and formed A. Reyrolle and Co., Ltd..[1]

1919 Died on the 27th February, at his home in Newcastle.[1]

1919 Obituary [2]

ALPHONSE C. REYROLLE, who was the founder and Managing Director of Messrs. A. Reyrolle & Co., Ltd., of Hebburn-upon-Tyne, died at Newcastle on the 27th February, 1919.

Although for 12 months he had known that his health was in a serious condition and that he had but little chance of recovery, he chose rather than rest, to devote all his waning strength to his life's work to the very end. He was a born mechanic, thorough in everything he undertook to do, always scrupulously careful in regard to details of manufacture, and with an unmistakable dislike for anything of a shoddy nature. Notwithstanding the extent of the work, it was his practice to inspect every new pattern made, and to the last he maintained a keen interest in the guidance and welfare of his employees, paying particular attention to the apprentices, for whom he organized a school for practical instruction.

His individual ambition was always rather to foster good handicraft, of which he was a past master, than to establish a large works which he saw might grow beyond his sphere of personal control in detail.

He chose to live a comparatively quiet home life, but he had the personal characteristic of being genuinely attached to his old "friends," among whom few were so often in his thoughts as " my boys," as he called those who were engaged in his workshops.

He was born in Juillac, Corrdze, France, in 1864, and his memory was very fresh in details of his experiences during the siege of 1870, when (as he had the misfortune to lose his mother) his father, a soldier then, took him with him to the trenches and on foraging expeditions on the outskirts of Paris.

He came to London at the age of 19 as an improver to Messrs. Lege and Co., scientific instrument makers in Turk's Head-yard, Farringdon-street, where he developed his talent for accuracy and excellence of workmanship.

In 1886 he started for himself in a small workshop at Charlotte-street, Fitzroy-square, and was soon sought after on account of his ability to develop new apparatus to the requirements of his clients, most of whom were pioneers in the electrical industry, and in this way he became associated with the early stages of many now well-known types of switchgear and electrical accessories.

In 1897 he moved to Pancras-street, Tottenham Court-road. His personal energy and charm of manner to his friends will ever be affectionately remembered by those whose troubles he shared in the early days of many of the notorious stations, in London including Rathbone-place, Sardinia-street, Manchester-square.

In 1901 he turned his private business into a limited company and opened the more extensive works at Hebburn, where some of the early lines developed in London were produced in bulk, and new lines were prepared to meet the conditions which grew with the progress of the large power companies on the North-East Coast.

It may be truly said that his heart was in his work. He worked with persistent effort despite great stress occasioned by the war, increased by a love for France and a strong sense of duty for England, his country by adoption. His life work - well done - will be recognized as a contribution in no small measure to the conversion of electrical apparatus from the old "string and resin" to the "good job" state.

He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1911.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Arcs, Sparks & Engineers, A Centenary History of A. Reyrolle & Co. Ltd (1901-2001) ISBN 0 9538972-1-4
  2. 1919 Institution of Electrical Engineers: Obituaries