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Albert Harris Howard

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Albert Harris Howard (1862-1916)


1917 Obituary [1]

ALBERT HARRIS HOWARD, who died on the 1st November, 1916, was born at Knightsville near Providence in Rhode Island on the nth July, 1862. He was the son of Mr. Albert C. Howard, a banker in Providence, who was Lieutenant-Governor of the State of Rhode Island and who, during the Civil War, was an officer in the United States Army. The family, descended from the historic House at Arundel, migrated to America in the year 1660 and settled in Connecticut, and Albert Howard was born on the estate acquired by his great-grandfather in Rhode Island in the year 1795.

From early years Mr. Howard showed a marked talent for mathematics as well as for languages, and in 1880 he entered the Brown University, where he found more scope for his mathematical and mechanical talents.

With the object of pursuing the profession of Engineering from the practical side Mr. Howard entered the engineering works of Messrs. Armington and Sims, and in 1883 he came to London and was associated with his brother-in-law, Mr. Henry Edmunds, a member of the Institution. That was during the period of great electrical development, and at the Fisheries Exhibition he had charge of the Hochhausen system of electric illumination which Mr. Edmunds was running at that Exhibition.

After that Mr. Howard was connected with a number of electric lighting undertakings in various parts of the country. He held the post of Chief Engineer to the Cadogan Electric Light Company for four years, and for a similar period was Chief Engineer to the London and Hampstead Battery Company.

He was also for some years the London manager for Messrs. W. T. Glover & Co.

In 1899 he became secretary of the Cable Makers' Association, a post which he held to the end of his life, and to whom his death is a severe loss, for his duties often involved very difficult and delicate matters to negotiate and adjust; but, by his exceptional tact and unfailing amiability, he won the esteem and affection of all the members of the Association as expressed in a resolution passed by a full meeting of that body the day after his death. They could not but appreciate his loyalty and devotion to his duties which he so successfully performed, although during the greater part of his secretaryship he was a great sufferer from the painful complaint which brought about his end ; and they could not but admire the cheerfulness and true heroism with which he bore his illness.

He was elected a Member of the Institution in May 1896, having been proposed by Mr. Henry Edmunds and supported by the late Sir William Preece, F.R.S., the late W. F. Goolden, and the late H. E. Harrison. It does not appear that he contributed any papers to the Institution, but he took part in several discussions at the meetings, notably on Mr. R. E. Crompton's paper on "The Institution Wiring Rules" in January 1899, and he served on the Committee on Copper Conductors in 1900.

He had a remarkable gift for invention ; and, but for his illness which affected so many years of his life, there can be little doubt that he would have taken a very high position in his profession. He was the inventor of the "Howard Conduit" or trough for carrying electrical cables which acted as an economical protection for underground conductors as well as an insulator. He was also the designer of the "Plion" system of lighting street lamps and of a method of armouring cables.

Those who were privileged to know him when he first came to this country, and for some years after until his health broke down, will never forget his bright magnetic influence with young and old, his fascinating personality, and the original and inimitable college songs with which he would occasionally delight his friends ; but perhaps the true greatness of his character displayed itself still more during the last few years of his life, for in all his suffering, which at times was very great, he maintained the most heroic and unselfish cheerfulness, doing everything in his power to make life bright around him. Truly by his death a most lovable character has gone from our midst, and the world and the profession are the poorer for his loss. He was a very accomplished chess-player, his clear mind and powers of concentration standing him in good stead in this game. The writer of this notice has more than once seen him play five games simultaneously, and win most of them, having his back turned to the boards.

He married a daughter of Mr. William Harris of Wavenden, Bucks, who survives him with two children - a son, at present engaged on scientific work in the Air Department of the Admiralty, and a daughter.


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Sources of Information

  1. 1917 Institution of Electrical Engineers: Obituaries