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British Industrial History

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Walter Langdon-Davies

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Walter Langdon-Davies (c1867-1924)

c.1867 Born in Hong Kong

1888 Student member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers

1890 Associate of the IEE

1891 Living in Kensington, an electrician, with Charles Langdon Davies 49, an electrician, Sarah Anne Langdon Davies 50, Walter Langdon Davies 23, Guy Langdon Davies 21, Winifred Elaine Langdon Davies 19, Sybil Harriet Langdon Davies 17, Bernard Noel Langdon Davies 14, Beatrice Langdon Davies 11, Olive Loe Langdon Davies 6[1]

1891 Married Gertrude Sarah Irvine Connors in St Luke, Redcliffe Sq, Middx[2]

See Langdon-Davies Motor Co

1901 Electrical engineer, employer, living in Fulham with his wife Gertrude[3]

1903-4 Walter Langdon-Davies and Alfred Soames, both of 101 Southwark Street, Surrey, gained patents on internal combustion engines, gear changers, clutches, etc

1911 Occupation: unemployed. Profession: electrical engineer, manufacturer. Living in Kensington with his wife Sarah Gertrude Irvine Langdon Davis 43[4]

See Davies and Soames

1918 Co-inventor of the Differential Electro-Magneto Clutch with Alfred Soames[5], which they patented together.


1925 Obituary [6]

WALTER LANGDON-DAVIES died in December 1924 at the age of 57 after a long and painful illness.

Although his life cannot be described as one of material success, yet there are not a few in the electrical world who will recall him for many years to come as an active and eager pioneer who broke new ground, occasionally for his own purposes, but more often to clear the path for others.

He received his scientific education at the School of Mines, now the Royal College of Science, at South Kensington. His first work was under his father, Charles Langdon-Davies, who was at that time developing the phonopore, a telegraphic system of the von Rysselberg period. While engaged on this he devised the induction motor, which was later brought out by a company bearing his name. For some years he was the technical director of this company.

Afterwards he went to Vancouver, where he worked as a consultant with the great power distribution company of British Columbia.

On his return to England he devoted himself to electric welding, and the Daysohms Welding Co. was formed to develop his inventions. With this company he was connected until his death.

So bald a record of his activities must seem to those who knew him an inadequate reflection of the absorbing passion for electrical discovery which animated him almost to the exclusion of any other interest. Nor was his method of research that which is in favour at universities and places where they proceed by careful induction. "With him it was always instinct," writes a friend, "and instinct nearly always right; then experimental proof; then theory; and, last and least, reward. He had more scientific curiosity and enthusiasm than anyone I ever knew."

It was as he lay in the last few months on his bed of pain that he formed the determination to leave his body, racked as it was with cancer, for purposes of research, and the present writer recalls the enthusiasm with which he said one day that this was the future life to which he looked forward and, since otherwise he was now useless, the sooner the new life began the better.

He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1919.


1924 Obituary[7]

"THE LATE MR. W. LANGDON-DAVIES.

It is with deep regret that we record the death in his 68th year of Mr. Walter Langdon-Davies, which occurred on Saturday, December 6, at 103, Inchmery-road, Catford. He passed away after many months of great suffering, and although he underwent a series of operations, they proved unavailing in arresting the progress of his malady. He will be long remembered for his pioneer work in the development of single-phase alternating current motors and for the design of many electrical devices having characteristics suited to the requirements of exceptional services.

He was born in Hong Kong, where his father, Mr. Charles Langdon-Davies, the inventor of the Phonopore system of signalling and many telegraphic devices, was Superintendent of the Bullion Office. After receiving his education at Dover College and the Royal School of Mines, Mr. Langdon-Davies joined his father in the development of his inventions and later devised the single phase motor with which his name is associated. This motor was manufactured by the Langdon-Davies Motor Co, which later became Brittain’s Electric Motor Co, but was started for the express purpose of producing the new motor. In 1906, Mr. Langdon-Davies went to Vancouver and was for some years on the staff of the British Columbia Electric Railway Co. He returned to this country early in the European War and became associated with Mr. Alfred Soames in the design of special generators and transformers for use in electric arc welding, and by their efforts great progress was made in devising machines for this service. The best known appliance resulting from this combination was the Davies-Soames magnetic clutch,’ which is interposed between a motor and a generator and is caused to. slip automatically to a greater or less extent to meet the power .requirements for welding. For the development of this and their other inventions the firm of Daysohms, Limited, was founded. Mr. Langdon-Davies was a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers."


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1891 census
  2. BMD
  3. 1901 census
  4. 1901 census
  5. The Engineer 1918/10/25
  6. 1925 Institution of Electrical Engineers: Obituaries
  7. Engineering 1924/12/26