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British Industrial History

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Reginald Charles Clinker

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Reginald Charles Clinker (1874-1931), Chief Research Engineer of BTH

1874 Born in Yeovil, Somerset. The third son of Charles Clinker, proprietor and editor of the Western Gazette.

Educated at Sidcot School, Somerset, Craigmore College, Clifton, the Bristol University and the London University. During his university training he gained an exhibition Scholarship for two years. He began his career as a research worker under Professor J. A. Fleming.

Member of The Institution of Electrical Engineers.

1931 Died after a Mountain Climbing Accident in North Wales.

1931 Obituary.[1]

1931 Obituary[2]


We regret to record the death of Mr. Reginald Charles Clinker, which occurred, as a result of a mountaineering accident, on Craig-yr-Isfa, a well-known spur of Car-nedd Llewellyn, Carnarvonshire, on Monday, August 3.

Mr. Clinker was born at Yeovil, Somerset in 1874, and was educated at Sidcot, Craigmore College, Clifton, and London and Bristol Universities. During the latter period of his training he gained an exhibition scholarship at University College and, as a result, was appointed a research assistant to Professor J. A. Fleming, F.R.S. On the formation of the British Thomson-Houston Company in 1896, he joined that organisation, and was at first engaged as a member of the technical department under Dr. H. F. Parshall and Mr. H. M. Hobart in researches on the magnetic ageing of iron. On the retirement of Mr. Hobart from the charge of that department, Mr. Clinker took his place, and. was afterwards for a time in control of the transformer department of the firm. He was, however, always more interested in experimental work, in which he could investigate problems for himself, than in the manufacturing side, and in 1913 took up the study of the thermionic valve, which was then slowly emerging from the laboratory stage. Its development was, of course, greatly stimulated by the .war, and his knowledge of this device was therefore of great use to the company during that period, when a large number of valves for use by the various branches of the fighting forces had to be manufactured. Moreover, at a very early stage in radio development he invented 'a portable receiver with a-self-contained'aerial. Another development, which for other than scientific reasons received a great impetus during the war, was the magneto, and Clinker played a great part in carrying out the experimental work which was necessary to ensure the commercial production of this essential piece of apparatus.

In May, 1920, he was appointed one of the consulting engineers of the British Thomson-Houston Company, and became chief of that firm’s engineering laboratory in 1924. Under his direction the work of this department developed to such an extent that he found the duties and responsibilities too heavy for his far from robust health, and was therefore obliged to resign in 1929. During the last two years of his life he had, however, acted as research engineer, devoting his attention to a wide range of subjects, among which special mention may be made of talking-film technique, vacuum physics, and the electrical measurement of time. In non-electrical spheres he had been a pioneer in motor cycling and more recently with gliders, while he had done a great deal of useful work in astronomy. He was a practised lecturer with an unrivalled clarity of expression and great skill in devising and performing experiments. He was elected a member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1920; and was president of the Rugby Engineering Society in 1929-30."

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