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British Industrial History

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Charles Courtenay Wharton

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Charles Courtenay Wharton (1871-1930) of BTH

1871 Born in Bushey, Herts son of Charles Bygrave Wharton and his wife Mary Cecilia Hamilton

1926 On the editing Committee of glossary of electrical terms and definitions published by the British Engineering Standards Association.

1930 Obituary[1]


On July 30 last, the British Thomson-Houston Company lost a distinguished member of its staff in Mr. Charles Courtenay Wharton, a loss which will also be felt by electrical engineering in general. He had been connected with the firm since its earliest days and had played a great part in bringing it to its present leading position in the electrical world.

Mr. Wharton, who was born at Bushey, Hertfordshire, on June 7, 1871, began his electrical career in the United States, where he was assistant to Mr. E. E. Boyer in the testing department of the Lynn works of the General Electric Company, and joined the British Thomson-Houston Company in 1897, the year of its formation. He was first engaged in the testing of transformers and other apparatus, which at that time were manufactured in a small factory at Bankside. Later he joined the technical department, which was formed by Mr. H. M. Hobart, who was then in charge of the design work of the company. When the well-known Rugby works were started in 1901, Mr. Wharton received an appointment on the staff of the chief engineer, Mr. J. S. Conover, among the more important of his duties being the compilation of technical data and the establishment of a Data Department, over which he continued to exercise a guiding hand throughout his career, in spite of the pressure of other work.

Five years later, he was placed in control of the drawing office, and occupied this position until 1919, when he was appointed assistant chief engineer. While holding the latter post, in addition to what may be called his routine duties, he was closely concerned with the work of the British Engineering Standards Association and the International Electrotechnical Commission. He acted as joint editor of the British Standard Glossary of Terms used in Electrical Engineering, which was published a few years ago, and was also actively engaged at the time of his death on an International Vocabulary of Electrical Terms. He was a member of the Committee of the British Association, which has been formed to clarify electrical nomenclature and definitions, and of a similar body set up by the British Engineering Standards Association to undertake the co-relation of the symbols used in engineering. As chairman of the Terminal Markings Co-Ordinating Committee of the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers’ Association, he did valuable work in the development of a comprehensive system of markings.

Besides his technical work, Mr. Wharton took a great interest in the educational and social activities of the company, with which he was connected for thirty -three years. He had long been a member of the Apprenticeship Committee, and was its vice-chairman for the past eleven years. He became president of the social club in 1911, and was a member of the council of the recreation club into which it was ultimately merged. He was also a member of the Rugby Rural District Council."

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