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British Industrial History

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Charles Oliver

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Charles Oliver (1873-1940), Managing Director and Chairman of Oliver Pell Control

1941 Obituary [1]

CHARLES OLIVER was born on the 16th April, 1873, and received his general education at Brighton College, Roscoe's School, Harrogate, and University College, London.

He then studied electrical engineering at the Crystal Palace School of Engineering, Finsbury Technical College and the Goldsmiths' Institute.

On the completion of his pupilage, which he served with Messrs. Johnson and Phillips at Old Charlton, he started in 1898 in business on his own account as an arc lamp manufacturer at Wilson Street, Finsbury, supplying lamps mainly to railway companies.

In 1900 he transferred the business to larger premises at Woolwich and was joined by the late Mr. W. M. D. Pell.

In 1906 he patented the magazine arc lamp using impregnated carbons. This largely replaced co-axial arc lamps and revolutionized street lighting. Although arc lamps for street lighting were later largely superseded by metal-filament lamps, arc lamps installed by him as long ago as 1912 for the lighting of London streets were still in use up to the time of the "blackout."

He designed and developed numerous electrical devices, including ripple control on supply networks. This pioneer work he carried out in conjunction with Mr. A. H. Dykes and the late William Duddell.

From 1914 until his death, which occurred on the 3rd December, 1940, he was Managing Director and Chairman of Oliver Pell Control, Ltd. In recent years the development of the Varley dry accumulator occupied much of his time.

He joined The Institution as an Associate in 1898 and was transferred to full membership in 1939.

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