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British Industrial History

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Phillip Keston Turner

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Phillip Keston Turner ( -1942)

1942 Obituary [1]

PHILLIP KESTON TURNER was educated at Reigate Grammar School and the Crystal Palace Company's School of Practical Engineering.

After spending a few months in the Hastings Tramway Department and with the Wycombe Electric Light and Power Co., he was from 1908 to 1911 Chief Assistant in the Research Department of Eley Brothers at Edmonton.

He then set up in business on his own account as proprietor of the Irish School of Wireless.

From October, 1915, to January, 1919, he held a commission in the Royal Air Force. After the war he edited for Messrs. Iliffe and Sons various technical books, and in 1923 became Editor of "Experimental Wireless."

In 1925 he was appointed by Burndept Wireless Ltd. head of their Research Department, and in 1927 Chief Assistant Engineer to Graham Amplion Ltd., carrying out research on broadcast receiving apparatus. He then served for a time on the research staff of Marconi's Wireless Telegraph Co., and subsequently joined Hartley Turner Radio Ltd. as Technical Director.

During the war and up to the time of his death he held a technical post with the Bristol Aircraft Co.

He joined The Institution in 1926 as an Associate Member and was elected a Member in 1928. He took a keen interest in the Wireless Section, and read papers before it on "A Wireless Works Laboratory" and "Some Measurements on a Loud-Speaker in Vacuo." He was best known as a radio technician, but was an expert in many fields and a natural mathematician. Any subject susceptible of mathematical treatment attracted him, but he had no patience with propositions and ideas which could not be stated with the precise exactitude of mathematical equations. This led to unresolvable quarrels with those who stood up to him, and this intolerance of others was a fatal obstacle to his achieving what in this commercial age is called success.

In private life he could be a charming, interesting, and very versatile companion, and his wide knowledge of a variety of subjects coupled to his logical mind made him an admirable controversialist. His passion for music impelled him towards the subject of electro-acoustics, which he attacked with great vigour and brilliance. His love of travel, gratified largely with a motor-cycle, a side-car and a tent, and recorded photographically, inevitably resulted in a characteristically thorough investigation into miniature camera technique.

He died on the 16th March, 1942, at the age of 53. So passes a man who, for all his faults, could not be ignored. He belonged to that type which seeks out knowledge for its own sake, and with his character it was his misfortune to be born into an era which demanded of the scientific worker that he should first show the way to creating bigger profits. It may be that the crisis through which civilization is now passing will found a society where the technician and the engineer will take their rightful place in the scheme of things. In such a society we shall need our Turners.

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