Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Early 1880s Messrs. Lucien Gaulard (also written as Goulard) and John Dixon Gibbs developed a transformer which could handle significant levels of power and was easy to manufacture to convert from the high voltage used for distribution to low voltage as necessary for use in electric lamps.

1882 Patent for a new system of distributing electricity, involving transformers in 1882, and, although their patent was upset in 1888 on the ground of its impracticability, the present method of using transformers for the distribution of electrical power was introduced in 1885, and shown at the Invention Exhibition in London in that year.[1]

c.1883 The Lowrie-Hall system of electric lighting, using the Goulard-Gibbs transformer was deployed by Hammond and Co (Electrical Engineers) for Eastbourne Electric Lighting Co; Mr William Lowrie was the chief engineer of Hammond and Co

1884 The efficiency of the Gaulard and Gibbs apparatus was tested by Dr. Hopkinson

1884 Exhibited at the Turin Electrical Exhibition[2]

1884 The National Company for the Distribution of Electricity by Secondary Generators had been established; Gibbs (and presumably Gaulard) was a director[3]

1885 Extensive tests were made at the Turin Exhibition by Professor Galileo Ferraris

1886 Patent assigned to George Westinghouse

1888 Ferranti challenged the 1882 patent in court, claiming it was being used to interfere with his business; the patent was revoked[4]

Despite opposition by many electrical engineers at the time, Gaulard and Gibbs developed the technology so that by the end of the 1880s it was the accepted method of distributing electricity.

By 1900 Gaulard had died but there continued to be legal cases about the patents.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1924/08/08
  2. The Morning Post, July 07, 1884
  3. The Times, Dec 12, 1884
  4. The Times Jul 10, 1888
  • ICE discussion on Alternating Current Machinery 1889 [1]