Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Arthur Cecil Heap

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Arthur Cecil Heap (1872-1941) of Erskine, Heap and Co and Heap and Digby

1908 Entered into partnership with August Eckstein to manufacture switchgear and starting gear and supply electrical accessories.

1942 Obituary [1]

ARTHUR CECIL HEAP was born in March, 1872, and died in October, 1941.

After two years at the City and Guilds Technical College he served an apprenticeship with Messrs. Gwynnes and attended evening classes at University College and King's College. The apprenticeship was succeeded by nearly four years as technical and research assistant to the late Col. Crompton.

In 1895 he went to Messrs. Elliott Brothers at Lewisham as Chief Electrician, and from 1898 to 1905 was their Chief Engineer. Seventeen patents in his name indicate his activities in these early years. The influence of his work can still be traced in many present-day portable and switchboard, measuring instruments.

In 1905 an urge for extended experience and a wider scope for his activities led him to become Manager of the General Electric Co.'s switchgear department at Manchester, and then in 1908 to be one of the founders of Erskine, Heap and Co. at Salford. Here again, the logical technical imagination which marked his work is recorded in 13 patents, mainly connected with switchgear. It was as a director in the last-named firm that he began the visits to North America to study technique and processes, and to South Africa, which were repeated so often.

For the last 31 years of his life, he found ample scope for his active temperament.

In 1911 he founded with Mr. W. P. Digby the firm of Heap and Digby, consulting engineers. His main work was in connection with power-house plants for mining companies - hydro-electric for copper mines in Tasmania, internal-combustion for tin mines in Malaya, steam for copper mines in Chile. The last was in its day unusual. The 140 000-volt power station at Cobija was 120 miles distant from the mine and at its inception was the biggest oil-fired steam-driven power station in the world.

From early 1915 to the middle of 1916, he was concerned in the work of the Ministry of Munitions, chiefly in dealing with munitions factories and their power supply; and from the middle of 1916 to the end of 1919 he was with Messrs. Vickers as Superintendent of Electrical Manufactures. From 1920 until his death on the 13th October, 1941, it was again a matter of consulting work and widely spread, with frequent journeys to North and South America, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy and France. He combined an intense zeal for work with a too reticent modesty about work done, and his relations with clients and manufacturers were marked by a social and diplomatic charm which stood, him in good stead. Having been warned that his heart was weak he began in 1937 to tax himself less severely, nominally retiring in June, 1939.

The outbreak of the present war, however, brought him back into harness and the end came with heart failure at Preston Station on a business journey. He joined The Institution over 50 years ago as a Student in 1890, and was elected an Associate in 1894 and a Member in 1904. Although widely known and highly esteemed, he never read a paper before this or any other engineering Institution. Indeed those who knew him intimately cannot recollect his even taking part in the discussion on any paper, although he persistently read the Proceedings.

One wonders whether if the war had been deferred he could have been persuaded to write a paper on, say, the development of power stations for isolated mines. Probably not! He would have preferred to go back to his first love - electrical measuring instruments.

1942 Obituary [2]

ARTHUR CECIL HEAP, whose death in his seventieth year occurred on 13th October 1941, was a consulting engineer specializing in the erection of power plants and mining equipment in which field he was widely known. He received his technical education at the City and Guilds Technical College, and also attended King's College and University College, London. He served his apprenticeship with Messrs. J. H. Gwynne, Ltd., during 1890 and 1891. In the latter year he became technical assistant to the late Colonel R. E. B. Crompton by whom he was engaged on research work. Four years later he was appointed chief electrician to Messrs. Elliott Brothers, electrical instrument makers, and was promoted to be chief engineer in 1905. In the following year, after a short period with the General Electric Company, Ltd., as manager of the switchgear department, he went into partnership with Mr. Erskine and established the firm of Erskine, Heap and Company, manufacturers of electrical switchgear. At the end of 1911 the partnership was dissolved and in that year Mr. Heap commenced to practice as a consulting engineer and entered into partnership with Mr. (now Captain) W. P. Digby.

From 1914 to 1916 he undertook technical work for the Ministry of Munitions, proceeding in the latter year to Messrs. Vickers, Ltd., as superintendent of the electrical manufacturing department, an appointment which he held till 1919, when he returned to his practice as a consultant. In the latter year he took Mr. W. Ryley into partnership with him. During 1913-15 he acted as consultant for the erection of the power plant of the Cobija Station in Chile, on behalf of Messrs. Guggenheim Brothers, which was at that time the largest oil-fired steam-driven power station in the world. The Diesel installations for the Anglo-Chilean Nitrate Corporation, at Maria Elena and Pedro de Valdia, were on a similar scale and were (in 1930-1) without precedent.

Mr. Heap was elected a Member of the Institution in 1913. He was also a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.

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