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Bedrich Pochobradsky

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Bedrich Pochobradsky

1966 An Appreciation by Dr D. F. Dollin[1]

"THE following appreciation of the late Mr. B. Pochobradsky, who died on July 26, was provided by Dr. D. F. Dollin.

Bedrich Pochobradsky was born in Czecholovakia in 1884 and was educated at the College of Kutna-Hora in that country. He then studied at the Technical High School at Zurich under the late Professor A. Stodola and graduated in 1906. After gaining experience at the Bohemo-Moravian Engine Works in Prague, Pochobradsky joined the British Westinghouse Company Ltd., Manchester (now AEI) in 1910 as a turbine engineer and in 1911 he became chief turbine engineer at Fraser and Chalmers Ltd. at Erith, Kent, where steam turbines were being built under licence from Professor Rateau, of Paris.

During the next few years Pochobradsky introduced a number of improvements in design, notably the continuous-shroud coverband which has remained a characteristic feature of the blading of Erith-built turbines to the present day. He was also a pioneer in the use on steam turbines of standardised components and in the stocking of castings and forgings in order to shorten delivery time. In 1912 he produced a 5000kW turbine to run at 3 000 r.p.m. an advanced design for that date and in 1918 came a 20 000kW turbine for Glasgow. During the 1914-18 war he was responsible for the design of a large number of blowers for steelworks. When the Erith Works of Fraser and Chalmers was purchased by The General Electric Company in 1919, Pochobradsky was appointed chief engineer. His activities widened to include other products of the company but with the termination of the Rateau licence agreement steam turbines, blowers and compressors occupied most of his attention.

In 1923 he produced a double-shell casing design that was used successfully on a turbine in service probably the first application of this now widely-used construction. At about the same time his name became known to a wide circle of engineers in connection with a nozzle of his design which was tested by the Steam Nozzles Research Committee of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (Fourth Report, May, 1925). The development of the steam turbine continued, as it always has done, on the lines described by Karl Baumann in 1921 as "a race for the maximum possible output at the highest possible speed" . It was an ideal field to give scope to a brilliant individualist like Pochobradsky.

Each new design issuing from Erith bore Pochobradsky's imprint and marked an advance on its predecessors. A two-cylinder, 3 000 r.p.m., 30MW turbo-generator commissioned in 1938 was fitted throughout with twisted moving blades, designed on a forced vortex basis in which centrifugal forces were balanced by a radial variation of reaction. This machine was highly successful and was the basis for many subsequent machines. In 1947, 60MW, 3 000 r.p.m. turbines were designed and were for many years the only British machines of this rating to employ only two cylinders.

These were the last large machines for which Pochobradsky was entirely responsible and he retired from his position as chief engineer in 1955, but remained very active as a consultant to the company until 1958. During the Second World War he assisted the Admiralty and in 1946 was made a consultant to the engineer-in-chief.

Throughout his working life Pochobradsky contributed much to the work of numerous committees, and after his retirement he was even more active in such work. He was a member of the Power Plant Committee of the Electrical Research Association for thirty-seven years, for the last thirteen of which he was its chairman. His final effort in this capacity culminated in the creation of the new E.R.A. creep laboratory at Leatherhead. He was elected chairman of the Steam Turbine Committee of the International Electrotechnical Commission in 1935 and continued in that office for twenty-five yea rs. Concurrently he was chairman of the B.S.I. Committee on Steam Turbine. His linguitic ability was a great asset in the I. E.C. work; in addition to his native tongue he was fluent in French, German and English. Another of his long-term chairmanships was that of the E.R.A. Advisory Committee on the Properties of Steam."

1966 Obituary [2]

"Mr Bedrich Pochobradsky (Member), who was well-known for his design of a nozzle tested by the Steam Nozzles Research Committee of the Institution in 1925, died recently in Kent.

He spent a great deal of his engineering career designing and producing turbines at the Erith Works of Fraser and Chalmers. When the General Electric Co. took them over in 1919, ‘Pocho' was appointed Chief Engineer.

Mr Pochobradsky's committee work was yet another of his contributions to engineering. He was Chairman of numerous bodies including the Steam Turbine Committee of the International Electrotechnical Commission, an office which he held for 25 years.

Throughout his life he took a keen interest in social work, and in Sidcup he supported the Girls Athletic Club, organised a Men's Club and a Boys' Club which he ran for 25 years. As an engineer he achieved and held an honoured place and as a man he gained the esteem and affection of those who came to know him. There will be many who mourn the passing of this great technologist."

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