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Charles Newton Russell

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Charles Newton Russell (1859-1934), Borough electrical engineer of Shoreditch.

1935 Obituary.[1]

CHARLES NEWTON RUSSELL, who died on the 22nd December, 1934, was one of the pioneers of the electricity supply industry in the London area and his name will always be linked with those of the engineers who, in those now far-off days, laid the foundations of what has since become one of the largest and most important industries in the country. To mention a few: such names as Hammond, Arthur Wright, Ferranti, Kennedy, Frank Bailey, Sydney Baynes, and Albert Gay, leap to one's memory. Newton Russell was a contemporary of these men and his pioneer work deserves to be remembered along with theirs. He was born in 1859 and served his apprenticeship at Stockton-on-Tees. He afterwards took up the study of electricity, in the pursuit of which he visited several large electricity works in the United States. He also studied at the School of Telegraphy and Electrical Engineering, Hanover Square. In 1882 he took up a post with the firm of W. T. Goolden and Co. and had charge of their section of the lighting of the Inventions and other Exhibitions at South Kensington, as well as the carrying out of a large amount of important work for the British Admiralty. In 1887 he secured an appointment as engineer to the Acton-Hill Electrical Works, his next move being in 1892 to the post of manager to the London and Lancashire Electrical Co., Dalston. He was subsequently appointed in 1897 by the Shoreditch Vestry as chief officer of the electricity undertaking, a post which he held continuously until December, 1925, when, having reached the age limit, he relinquished the position of borough electrical engineer, remaining in a consulting capacity until December, 1926, when he finally retired. In addition to his deserved reputation as a pioneer in electricity supply he was an authority on the disposal of refuse. In 1904 he read a paper before the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on "Refuse Destruction by Burning and the Utilization of Heat Generated," and in 1925 he presented to his Council a report on the subject which even to-day is looked upon as one of the most authoritative treatises on the subject. He also claimed to be the first to introduce the steel conduit for wiring purposes, and he held certain patents in connection therewith. He was a member of a special Committee which was Set up in 1909 jointly by the London electric lighting companies and the municipalities to investigate and report on the question of the future of electricity supply in the London area. This Committee consisted of Mr. C. Newton Russell, Mr. C. P. Sparks, Mr. Frank Bailey, and the writer of this notice, and it made a valuable report in June, 1910, which had a considerable influence on subsequent legislation. Mr. Russell took no mean part in the work of that Committee. He also took an active part in the work of the British Standards Institution, being a member of a number of its Panels. He was a member of the Associated Municipal Electrical Engineers, being their President in 1908, and he took a considerable part in the work of the I.M.E.A. He was elected an Associate of the Institution in 1888, and a Member in 1903. By those who had the privilege of his friendship he was greatly loved, he had a wonderful sense of humour, and many were the amusing tales he would recount of his early pioneer experiences.

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