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.
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
1883 'ELECTRIC LIGHTING ON THE METROPOLITAN RAILWAY.
For some evenings past the National Company for the Distribution of Electricity by Secondary Generators have been illustrating their system of electric lighting on a section of the Metropolitan Railway. Messrs. Gaulard and Gibbs, the patentees of the new method, have had an opportunity of explaining their system, and showing it in practical operation. The great difficulty hitherto experienced in electrical transmission has been that of supplying a current which shall satisfy simultaneously the various requirements of different consumers. It is claimed that by the new system this object has been accomplished that for the first time incandescent lamps have been lighted over a circuit of fifteen miles ; and that for the first time the electric current has been rendered possible of application for various purposes at the same moment namely, for the lighting of districts by the arc light, for incandescent lamps and as a motive power. The company have now on the Metropolitan line a single circuit fifteen miles long composed of a cable one-sixth of an inch in diameter, connecting the stations of Notting-hill-gate, Edgware-road, Gower-street, King’s-cross and Aldgate. The apparatus used consists of a dynamo-electric machine producing an alternating current, which current is conducted to a secondary generator. Here the insulated primary conductor or main wire is encircled by series of smaller wires, which are also insulated, and in which the secondary currents are generated. The generator is of columnar construction, and the columns are divided up into groups, and are so connected as to admit of the current induced on the secondary conductors, by the influence of the alternating current which traverses the primary conductor, being made to develop diflferent potentials at will—the different qualities of current required respectively for incandescence lamps, arc lamps, and motive power. important feature of this system of electrical distribution is that a metallically closed circuit is used to convey the primary current. Hence no limit need be fixed to the electro-motive force of the current, which on such circuit is harmless. The currents induced on the secondary conductors alone are utilized for the purposes indicated. The current is distributed from the secondary generator to arc lights and incandescent lamps at each station, and can also be employed to work motors. At present the number of lamps in use at the four stations is 104.'
1884 The efficiency of the Gaulard and Gibbs apparatus was tested by Dr. Hopkinson.
1884 Exhibited at the Turin Electrical Exhibition
1884 'At a recent meeting of the Paris Academy of Sciences, M. Tresca read a communication on experiments recently made at Turin and Lanzo to distribute the electric light great distances. These experiments, carried out by Messrs. Gaulard and Gibbs in connection with the International Electrical Exhibition at Turin, are stated to have been attended by a large degree of success. A Siemens' dynamo-electric machine of 30 horsepower generated an alternate current, which was simultaneously utilised by the Swan, Siemens, and Bernstein systems distributed over a circuit of 24 miles between the Exhibition, Lanzo, and intermediate stations.'.
1884 The National Company for the Distribution of Electricity by Secondary Generators had been established; Gibbs (and presumably Gaulard) was a director
1885 Extensive tests were made at the Turin Exhibition by Professor Galileo Ferraris
1886 Patent assigned to George Westinghouse
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.
Gaulard died in 1888, but legal cases about the patents continued long afterwards.
Sources of Information
- The Engineer 1924/08/08
- St James's Gazette - Thursday 22 November 1883
- The Morning Post, July 07, 1884
- Widnes Examiner, 1 November 1884
- The Times, Dec 12, 1884
- The Times Jul 10, 1888
- ICE discussion on Alternating Current Machinery 1889