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British Industrial History

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George Edward Dering

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George Edward Dering (1831-1911) was a British inventor and eccentric.

His father was Robert Dering and his mother, Leititia, was the daughter of Sir George Shee, 1st Baronet (1754-1825).

He was educated at Rugby School.

1855 Exhibited electric telegraph apparatus at the 1855 Paris Exhibition

1859 He inherited the manor of Lockleys, Welwyn, Hertfordshire from his father and an estate in Dunmore, County Galway estate from his uncle Sir George Shee, 2nd Baronet (1784-1870).

Dering gained an interest in telegraphy from his teacher. He invented a signal detector using a needle suspended to swing like a pendulum in 1850. This detector was used by the Bank of England in its company communication system on Threadneedle Street.

The Electric Telegraph Company of Ireland used the system in 1852, and Dering was made a company director. Further use was made in experiments by European Telegraph company between London and Dover, and on Great Northern Railway.

He was interested in a range of scientific and technical subjects, obtaining some twenty patents relating to telegraphy, chemistry, iron- and brick-making. His principal interest was electricity: he had a standing order with booksellers for books on the subject and amassed a huge collection, subsequently bought by Theodore Newton Vail and presented to Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He also acquired the Cuthbert aeronautical collection, eventually presented to the Royal Aeronautical Society. A portion of the Cuthbert aeronautical collection was also acquired by Vail for MIT.

Another of his interests was tight-rope walking. He was a friend of Charles Blondin and practised with him over the River Mimram on his estate.

His personal life and behaviour were eccentric. He was insistent on peace and quiet and paid for roads to be moved that ran too near his house. Around 1880, he disappeared from Lockleys, returning once a year to oversee the estate and finally returning again permanently in 1907. It transpired that he had been living in Brighton under another name, and had a family who had no knowledge of his real name and fortune.

He died in 1911 and his estates were inherited by relatives: Lockleys went to his daughter, Mrs. Neall.


1911 Obituary [1]

GEORGE EDWARD DERING was born in 1831, and educated at Rugby.

In his early days he was one of the pioneers of telegraphy, and at his residence at Lockleys, near Welwyn, he conducted many experiments in this and other branches of science. He was interested in a process for the manufacture of steel rails, and in the discovery of suitable substances for insulators.

His death occurred on February 17, 1911.

He was elected a Member of the Institution in 1875.


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