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British Industrial History

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George Usher

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Sir George Usher (1889-1963)


1963 Obituary[1]

"ENGINEERS will have heard with regret that SIR GEORGE USHER, who was convalescing in Bavaria after an illness, died suddenly on October 6. George Clemens Usher was born in December, 1889, the son of Thomas Clemens and Mary Usher of Enfield. He was educated at Malvern College and studied engineering in France and Germany.

The early part of his business career was spent in Germany and America. On his return to England in 1923 he joined others, notably Mr G. R. T. Taylor, in the formation of International Combustion to introduce the use of coal in pulverised form for firing water-tube boilers. At that time power-station boilers were designed to be suitable for mechanical stoker firing by coal, and many of the problems of pulverised fuel firing were caused by limitations in the design of steam generation equipment for this novel technique.

As general manager of the company, George Usher displayed unflagging energy and it was largely through his skill and ability that pulverised fuel obtained a firm hold on the imagination of the British engineer. In 1926, the first completely water-cooled integral furnace steam generator fired by pulverised fuel tangentially from the furnace corners was successfully commissioned in Manchester. The developments of the company's boiler plant since those days have always centred around this basic concept, despite the fact that boiler sizes have increased fifty-fold and the steam cycle has moved through the critical point.

George Usher was appointed managing director of the reconstituted company upon its formation in 1934, and he set about establishing the structure and reputation of International Combustion as water-tube boiler makers and manufacturers of combustion equipment. In 1937 Aberdare Cables Ltd. was set up, under his auspices, in a mining valley in South Wales where approximately half the adult male population was unemployed. Without government aid the site was bought and a cable industry established which has grown to an organisation employing over 3 000 people at present.

During the war he was a colleague of Lord Beaverbrook and was appointed Controller of Light Alloys at the Ministry of Aircraft Production under Lord Beaverbrook in 1940. Later he became Controller General of Material Production before serving a director general of Tanks Supply from 1941-42.

In 1950 he went to South Africa where he served a both chairman and managing director of International Combustion Africa Ltd. until his death, and thank to his efforts this company was closely associated with the Electricity Supply Commission of South Africa in the provision of power generating plant there. He also remained a director of International Combustion (Holdings) Ltd. until his death.

He was a member of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a Fellow of the Institute of Fuel, and was knighted in 1942 for his services during the war."


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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1963 Jul-Dec