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Walter Fiddes

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Walter Fiddes (1825-1908)

1866 Walter Fiddes, Engineer, Bristol United Gas Co, Bristol.[1]


1909 Obituary [2]

WAITER FIDDES was born at Bristol on 15th July 1825. Although of Scotch extraction (his grandfather, Mr. Andrew Fiddes, a mining engineer of Kelso, having come down to execute some works at Bristol in the early years of the last century), he was connected with Bristol all his life.

This gentleman, Mr. Andrew Fiddes, was the first to introduce oil-gas at Clifton, and gas made from oil continued to be supplied for some years before a company was formed, called the Clifton and Bristol Gas Company, in 1823. A coal-gas company, called the Bristol Gas Company, had however been in existence six years before this time, having begun to light the streets of Bristol with gas so early as 1817. There was, however, for a considerable time, great prejudice on the part of the residents in Clifton against the use of coal-gas; but eventually this feeling passed away and so both companies became suppliers of coal-gas. Competition between them ceased in 1855 when they were amalgamated under the title of the Bristol United Gaslight Company.

In that year Mr. Walter Fiddes, who had previously been trained under his father and was acting as his assistant, was appointed chief engineer of the combined undertakings and held the position until 1888 when he retired and was succeeded by his son, Mr. William Fiddes, whose death also has taken place recently.

During his long period of service and in consequence of the great increase in gas-consumption, he had the opportunity of exercising his very considerable ability in the construction of the Canons' Marsh Station, St. Phillip's Station, Avon Street, and in conjunction with his son, the late Mr. William Fiddes, the Gasworks at Stapleton Road for the Bristol Gas Company. These works have been considerably added to since 1888, and still more recently by the present chief engineer, but a great proportion of the older works still remains or has been incorporated with the new.

Mr. Walter Fiddes was distinguished in his day as a very safe constructor of gas-holder tanks, of which, both for the Bristol Gas Company and other gas companies, he built a great many. These tanks are usually built so watertight as oven to avoid percolation, and hence great care is necessary in their construction, and the use of clay-puddle resorted to very commonly. He never used any puddle, yet his tanks, nearly all of them built of stone and hydraulic mortar, with an inner lining of brickwork jointed with cement, the core in the centre being as usual left in place, are all perfectly watertight. He gave great attention to chemistry and photometry; he regarded years ago, as neatly all do who are connected with gas-making now, the sperm candle as a crude and unreliable standard for testing the illuminating power of gas, and he proposed a new standard which is referred to in Mr. Newbigging's Handbook for Gas Engineers.

His death took place at his residence in Clifton, on 14th November 1908, at the age of eighty-three.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1806. He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and of the Gas Institute.



1909 Obituary [3]

WALTER FIDDES was born at Bristol on the 15th July, 1825, and was therefore in his 84th year when he died on the 14th November, 1908, at his residence at Clifton, Bristol.

Mr. Fiddes was of Scottish extraction. His grandfather, Mr. Andrew Fiddes, of Kelso, who later removed to Bristol, was the first to introduce oil-gas at Clifton, the Clifton and Bristol Gas Company for the supply of such gas being formed in 1823. This company eventually amalgamated with the Bristol Gas Company, which had been in existence since 1817, and the undertaking then became the Bristol United Gaslight Company, for the supply of coal-gas.

In 1855 Mr. Walter Fiddes, who had previously been trained under his father and had acted as his assistant, was appointed Chief Engineer of the combined undertakings and held the position until 1888, a period of 33 years. He then retired, and was succeeded by his son, Mr. William Fiddes, whose death has also taken place recently.

During his long period of service, and in consequence of the great increase in gas-consumption, Mr. Walter Fiddes from time to time was called upon to carry out various extensions of the plant. Amongst other works, he constructed the Canon’s Marsh Station, St. Phillip’s Station, Avon Street, and in conjunction with his son, the late Mr. William Fiddes, the gasworks at Stapleton Road, for the Bristol Gas Company. He also acquired a reputation in his day as a builder of gas-holder tanks, of which, both for the Bristol Gas Company and other gas companies, he constructed a large number. These tanks are usually built watertight; hence great care is necessary in their construction, and the use of clay puddle is commonly resorted to. Mr. Fiddes never used puddle, yet his tanks, generally built of stone and hydraulic mortar with an inner lining of brickwork jointed with cement, the core in the centre being as usual left in place, are all perfectly watertight.

Mr. Fiddes devoted considerable attention to the study of chemistry and photometry, and was the originator of an ingenious method of testing the illuminating power of gas, by the utilization of a portion of the gas flame itself. He was a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and had previously been a Member of the British Association of Gas Managers and of the Gas Institute.

Mr. Fiddes was elected a Member of The Institution on the 1st March, 1881.


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