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British Industrial History

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Charles Claude Carpenter

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Charles Claude Carpenter (1858-1938)

Deputy chief engineer of the South Metropolitan Gas Co.

1915-17 Dr C. C. Carpenter was President of the Society of Chemical Industry

1938 Obituary [1]

CHARLES CLAUDE CARPENTER, C.B.E., D.Sc., was an outstanding figure in the gas industry, which he served all his life. He was born in 1858 and received his technical education at Birkbeck College, London. After preliminary workshop training under his father, the late Richard W. Carpenter, he served his apprenticeship in the West Greenwich works of the Phoenix Gas Company. He began his great work for the South Metropolitan Gas Company in 1881, when he entered the Vauxhall works; in 1882 he was appointed assistant to the engineer, becoming engineer three years later. In 1897 he took charge of the Bankside works and was made deputy chief engineer the same year, and only two years later he received the appointment of chief engineer to the company.

On the death of Sir George Livesey, M.I.Mech.E., in 1908, Dr. Carpenter was elected chairman of the company and was also made a director of the South Suburban Gas Company, with which he had become associated, becoming chairman of this company in 1927. Thenceforth he devoted much energy to developing the plan of industrial co-partnership laid down by Sir George Livesey, and was the author of a book on the subject. He had a great mastery of the technical side of the gas industry, and his detailed knowledge enabled him to introduce many valuable new ideas. Early in his career he conceived the idea of inclined retorts for gas production, and later he developed the Siemens method of firing in its application to the heating of retorts. One of his most far-reaching reforms, however, was the introduction of a new method of evaluating town gas.

He was responsible for the detailed design of the "No. 2 Metropolitan" burner now universally used as the official standard in assessing the illuminating power of town gas. In 1923 he applied for a patent for a thermometer, and in 1936 he succeeded in obtaining Parliamentary sanction for its adoption. Among his smaller inventions were an appliance for lighting gas jets, embodying a platinum filament, patented in 1914; a table photometer for illumination tests; the single gas-air burner adjustment; and the "Supervia" street lamp. Dr. Carpenter had great responsibilities during the War, and served on the Munitions Inventions Panel. In 1917 he arranged for the lease of land at Greenwich to the Government, to enable the Fuel Research Station to be founded. In 1920 he received the C.B.E. in recognition of his national services in connection with munitions.

He was a keen supporter of a number of technical institutions, especially those associated with the gas industry. He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1902, and in 1920 he delivered the Annual Lecture to the Graduates' Section, London, on the subject of "Fuels". He was a past-president of the first Incorporated Institute of Gas Engineers and of the Southern Association of Gas Engineers, and contributed several technical papers to these bodies. In 1912 the honorary degree of D.Sc. was conferred upon him by the University of Leeds. During the War he was president of the Society of Chemical Industry and, with Dr. Ree, of Manchester, was instrumental in establishing the Association of British Chemical Manufacturers.

In 1920 he became chairman of the Gas Companies' Protection Association, for the founding of which he was largely responsible, and was president of this association at the time of his death. He also served on the governing body of the Imperial College of Science and Technology.

In 1926 he was elected to the board of the Commercial Gas Company, and became chairman of directors in 1930, a position which he retained until his death, which occurred on 7th September 1938.

1938 Obituary [2]

1938 Obituary [3]

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