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Ernest Slater

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Ernest Slater (1869-1942), editor of the Electrical Times


1942 Obituary [1]



1943 Obituary [2]

ERNEST SLATER was for nearly thirty-six years editor of The Electrical Times. He was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 105 and was transferred to Membership in 1920. He was also a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. After receiving his technical education at Finsbury Technical College, at that time under the direction of Professor Sylvanus Thompson, he joined the staff of the Blackpool electricity supply works. Subsequently he became assistant to the late Mr. Robert Hammond, who was then engaged as consulting engineer to the Blackpool Corporation and by many other public supply systems.

This led in 1895 to a visit to Spain, where he stayed for four years, during which time he was responsible for the extension and equipment of new stations at Madrid and Malaga. On the completion of the latter project he remained at Malaga as chief engineer. On his return to England he was for some years engaged upon the design and equipment of the many new central stations then in course of erection. About 1905 he accepted an important post in Mexico in connection with an undertaking which possessed the largest hydroelectric plant in that country, but on its amalgamation a year later with other enterprises Mr. Slater's engagement terminated and he returned to England.

It was in 1906 that he began his long tenure of the post of editor of The Electrical Times, which he filled with characteristic vigour and outstanding success. He was a gifted writer, and in addition to his work for technical journalism, he was the author of several novels, under the name "Paul Gwynne".

His death occurred on 1st April 1942.


1942 Obituary [3]

ERNEST SLATER, born in 1869, was the son of an engineer and a pupil of the late Prof. Silvanus Thompson at Finsbury.

His electrical career may be divided into two periods. From about 1890 until 1906 he was engaged in practical electrical engineering; and from 1906 until his death on the 1st April, 1942, he was Editor of The Electrical Times.

In 1893 the Blackpool electricity works were opened by Lord Kelvin, and Ernest Slater was on the staff. The late Robert Hammond, the consulting electrical engineer for the Blackpool works, took Slater on to his headquarters staff in 1895 and sent him to install extensions at Madrid. Thence he went to Malaga, where he installed the electric supply system and remained in charge. Recalled by Hammond to London about 1900 he helped to design and install central station plants in more than a dozen towns. These included Ayr, Bath, Bray, Canterbury, Dublin, Gloucester, Hackney, Hornsey, Mansfield, Pembroke, Rathmines and Wakefield.

In 1905 he went to Mexico on a hydro-electric scheme, but the next year he returned home and became Editor of The Electrical Times. He was a practised writer having already written several successful novels featuring Spanish and Mexican life, and this, combined with his technical knowledge, enabled him soon to become an outstanding figure in electrical journalism. He was an excellent linguist, and turned this to good account by acting as compiler of Pitman's Technical Dictionary of Engineering Science, in Seven Languages, a monumental piece of work. His journalistic style was outstanding. It was full of individuality. Crisp comment and sound criticism were enlivened with frequent touches of wit and humour. One of his favourite subjects was steam-raising practice. Let him enter a power station and, like a homing pigeon, he would make for the boiler house. Mains work, simplified wiring, and illumination were also matters to which he devoted special attention.

There were two Slaters, and only his friends knew the real man. He was reserved with strangers and disliked crowds. But he would take immense trouble to provide unknown inquirers with answers to their questions, and the questions an editor is asked are innumerable. The aggregate effect of his work must be great. Week by week for 35 years readers received information, advice, inspiration or encouragement which helped to accelerate the tempo of electrical development generally.

He joined The Institution as an Associate Member in 1901, and was elected a Member in 1905.


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