Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Arthur Percy Morris Fleming

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Sir Arthur Fleming, electrical engineer, research director and educator.

1881 born at Newport, Isle of Wight

Educated at Portland House Academy, Newport and at Finsbury Technical College.

Worked as an improver with the London Electric Supply Corporation. Then as a test-room assistant with Elliott Brothers, Lewisham

1898 Joined the Institution of Electrical Engineers; elected an Associate Member in 1905; became a Member in 1911.

1900 Selected by British Westinghouse for training with Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Co at its East Pittsburgh works.

1902 On joining the Manchester works he was engaged as an insulation specialist; then Chief Transformer Designer. Introduced a training scheme for schoolboy recruits in the transformer department. By 1908 he had extended these arrangements throughout the company.

1904 Married Rose Mary Ash of Newport, Isle of Wight; they had two sons and one daughter.

1913 The company created a separate transformer department with A. P. M. Fleming as superintendent and Chief Engineer

1914 he established a trade apprentice school

1917 he became Manager of the company's education department.

WWI Recognised the importance of research but his plans were delayed by the war. He and a few colleagues made important contributions to submarine detection, for which he was created CBE in 1920.

The business became Metropolitan-Vickers

1920 The first buildings of the new research department were completed at his initiative.

1922 The research department's buildings were used as the site for the transmitter and studios of the BBC's first Manchester station, 2ZY, which began to broadcast within a day of the opening of 2LO in London.

He played an important part in the establishment of the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research and of the Electrical Research Association.

By 1929 the department contained one of the largest high voltage laboratories in the world. The department attracted a succession of men of outstanding ability, who responded to Fleming's inspiration by making many notable contributions to pure and applied science. Particularly important was the development of demountable high power thermionic valves which helped make possible the installation of the first radar stations just before the outbreak of war in 1939.

1931 Fleming became the Associated Electrical Industries' director of research and education.

Joint author of several monographs.

1937 Awarded the Hawksley Medal by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers

1941 Awarded the IEE's Faraday Medal

1945 Knighted for his services to education.

Post-WWII He led an engineering mission to Latin America.

1954 Retired

1960 Died at his home at Bonchurch, Isle of Wight.

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