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Ethelbert Thomas Ruthven Murray

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Ethelbert Thomas Ruthven Murray (1870-1927)

1927 Obituary[1]


We regret to record the death of Mr. Ethelbert Thomas Ruthven Murray, which occurred at Radlett, on Friday, December 16, at the age of 57. Like Mr. Dickinson, whose death we noted only a week or two ago, Mr. Murray was one of the pioneers of electricity supply in this country, having entered this branch of the profession in the early ’nineties.

Mr. Murray, as his name implies, was of Scotch extraction, but was actually born at Oxford, being the second son of the late Sir James Murray, of Oxford Dictionary fame. He was educated at Mill Hill School and at Oxford, but deciding to take up engineering work, served a regular pupilage, and then became assistant to Mr. John Somerville, the constructional engineer of the South Metropolitan Gas-Company. In 1892, however, he turned over to the electrical side, and joined the firm of Messrs. J. E. H. Gordon and Company, at a time when they were erecting electricity works in various parts of England and Ireland. In 1893, he was appointed resident electrical engineer in Aberdeen, and supervised the erection of the power station and the laying out of the network in that city, to the designs of Professor (now Sir Alexander) Kennedy. Shortly afterwards he moved to Worcester, where, in the same capacity, he carried out extensions to both the steam and water power stations.

In 1899, he became consulting and resident engineer to the Willesden Urban District Council, which, at that time, were promoting a somewhat grandiose combined scheme for electricity supply and tramways. Owing to local opposition, the latter project was dropped, and eventually the Willesden Council disposed of their generating plant to the North Metropolitan Electric Power Company, of which Mr. Ruthven Murray then became chief engineer, retaining his position as consulting engineer to the Council. This was a time when the electrical world was full of new and, to us now, strange ideas. One of these was the double-current generator, which, by an arrangement of tappings, generated direct and either two-phase or three-phase alternating current simultaneously, the latter being stepped up and utilised for the supply of outlying districts. A machine of this kind was, amid much criticism, actually designed by Mr. Murray for use at Willesden; but, like most compromises, it was neither a good direct-Current machine nor a good alternator. Voltage regulation was a difficulty, while the switchgear was complicated. We believe the idea was not adopted elsewhere, and with the extension of the power company’s system, three-phase generation was gradually reverted to. Like many power companies, the North Metropolitan Company began with the supply of a number of isolated districts, but gradually generation was concentrated mainly at Willesden and Brimsdown, and the network spread out into Outlying districts until, at the time of Mr. Murray’s Resignation, in 1920, the connections to the mains were 54,500 kw., and the mileage of transmission lines some 226. Since leaving the North Metropolitan Company, Mr. Murray had been closely connected iVith the K.F.M. Company, a concern engaged in the development of electric lighting signs and other Similar material.

Mr. Murray was elected a member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1898.

1928 Obituary [2]

ETHELBERT THOMAS RUTHVEN MURRAY was born in 1870 and was educated at Mill Hill and Oxford.

After three years' mechanical training he became an assistant engineer with the South Metropolitan Gas Co.

He then decided to take up electrical engineering and obtained an appointment on the staff of Messrs. J. E. H. Gordon and Co., and was engaged in connection with the design and construction of several electric lighting stations.

In 1893 he was appointed city electrical engineer of Aberdeen and superintended the erection of the electricity works which had been designed by Prof. A. B. W. Kennedy (afterwards Sir Alexander Kennedy).

In 1895 he became city electrical engineer of Worcester and carried out large extensions to the works.

In September 1898 he accepted an appointment as engineer to the Willesden Urban District Council and designed the electricity supply station at Willesden. When the station was purchased by the North Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Co. in February 1904, he was appointed chief engineer to the company and held that position until 1920.

He then started to practise as a consulting engineer and was also interested in a special type of electric sign.

He died on the 16th December, 1927. During the years in which he was connected with supply undertakings he invented a metal bridge-piece for lead-sheathed cables laid in troughing, and a special form of maximum demand indicator.

He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1898.

1927 Obituary [3]

ETHELBERT THOMAS RUTHVEN-MURRAY served a pupilage with the South Metropolitan Gas Company, with whom he was associated for several years.

In 1892, however, he turned to electrical engineering, and after being engaged on the construction of the Crystal Palace District and the Larne electricity works he was appointed City Electrical Engineer at Aberdeen in 1893.

In 1899 he was appointed in a similar capacity at Worcester, and while he was there a deputation from the Willesden Urban District Council, who were contemplating starting an electricity supply, visited Worcester. As a result Mr. Murray was appointed engineer by the Council and designed and constructed an electric lighting and power station for them.

When the North Metropolitan Electric Power Supply Company bought the station, Mr. Murray was appointed general manager and engineer to the company, and held this position until 1920.

For a short time after retiring he acted as consulting engineer and was also interested in the production of a special type of electric sign. Mr. Murray's inventions included a metal bridge-piece for supporting lead-covered cables in troughing and a maximum-demand meter which could be adjusted by the consumer himself.

He became a Member of the Institution in 1902, and was also a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

His death occurred on 16th December 1927 in his fifty-eighth year.

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