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David King Morris

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David King Morris (1874-1935) of Morris and Lister and the M. L. Magneto Syndicate‎.


1935 Obituary.[1]

DAVID KING MORRIS, Ph.D., younger son of James Morris, M.D., was born on the 5th January, 1874, and died on the 14th May, 1935. He was privately educated and entered University College, London, in 1891, where he studied mechanical and electrical engineering and physics under Professors T. Hudson Beare, J. A. Fleming, and G. Carey Foster. He showed aptitude for research, assisting Prof. Fleming (now Sir Ambrose Fleming) in electrical investigations. Elected as an 1851 Exhibition Scholar in 1894, he worked at University College with Prof. A. W. Porter on dielectric and magnetic hysteresis, and later under Prof. Weber at Zurich. In 1897 he obtained the degree of Ph.D. for a thesis on " The Magnetic Properties and Electrical Resistance of Iron as Dependent on Temperature." Returning to England he was elected Fellow of University College, London, at the age of 24. After one year as senior demonstrator in electrical engineering at Chelsea Polytechnic, he was appointed lecturer in electrical engineering at Mason University College, Birmingham. He was there responsible for the entire work of the Electrical Engineering Department, and for much research carried out, or inspired, by him.

After 1900, when the University of Birmingham was greatly extended, he drew up the original plans for the Electrical Engineering Section of the new University, and designed the equipment of the laboratories, admittedly then amongst the finest in the country. After the appointment of Prof. Gisbert Kapp to the Chair of Electrical Engineering at Birmingham, Dr. Morris with his assistant, Mr. G. A. Lister, left, and started the business of Messrs. Morris and Lister. In 1914, supplies from Germany having ceased, this firm supplied ignition apparatus to private firms and to the Mechanical Transport Department of the War Office. In 1915, the M-L Magneto Syndicate, Ltd., was formed to develop the production of aircraft magnetos for the Royal Naval Air Service. During the War Dr. Morris did other work of national importance; this included an early investigation into the problems of the detection of submarines, which finally resulted in the Sykes-Morris directional hydro-phone.

After the War the M-L Magneto Syndicate, Ltd., extended their activities, notably in connection with rotary transformers and apparatus for radio purposes, and in the development of these Dr. Morris took a leading part. He was largely responsible for the formation, in 1910, of an association of British magneto manufacturers. Latterly his health compelled him to give up regular work, and after the magneto business was acquired by Messrs. Joseph Lucas in 1930, he confined himself to consulting and patent work for them and for Messrs. S. Smith and Sons (M.A.).

He joined the Institution as a Student in 1892, was elected an Associate Member in 1899 and a Member in 1907, and served as Honorary Secretary of the Birmingham Local Section (now South Midland Centre) from 1900 to 1906. Of a retiring disposition, and increasingly suffering from asthma, Dr. Morris was known to few of his profession, yet he contributed several papers to the Institution, including papers on the uses of the oscillograph and on the design of eddy-current brakes for motor testing.


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