Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Charles Henry Stearn

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Charles Henry Stearn (1844-1919), founder of the Stearn Electric Lamp Co.

1877 Joseph Wilson Swan, of Newcastle, Chemist, and Charles Henry Stearn, of Rock Ferry, Cheshire, Gentleman, received a patent for the invention of "improvements in Sprengel pumps."[1]

1896 A lamp manufacturer. He promoted the "high voltage" ie 220 volt, lamp. Stated at a meeting of the Municipal Electrical Association that opposition to the movement in favour of 220-volt lamps was gradually dying away.

1919 Obituary [2]

CHARLES HENRY STEARN was born in Jamaica in 1844.

On leaving school he became a bank clerk, but devoted his spare time to physics and research.

In 1877 he became associated with the late Sir Joseph Swan and endeavoured to produce a satisfactory glow lamp from carbon filaments prepared by Sir Joseph. Succeeding in doing so, a company was then formed in 1880 for the manufacture and development of the lamp, with Mr. Steam as technical manager.

In 1882 he was appointed managing director of the Swan United Electric Light Company.

On the fusion of this Company with the Edison Electric Light Company he became associated with the Zurich Incandescence Lamp Company.

When the Swan patents expired he started to manufacture electric lamps at Kew Gardens, the business of the Zurich Company being taken over in 1907 when the Stearn Electric Lamp Company was formed with Mr. Stearn as managing director.

He took an active part in the management up to a short time of his death, which occurred after a short illness on the 14th February, 1919. Among his inventions was the process of making artificial silk from viscose.

He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1884.

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