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British Industrial History

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Herbert John Dowsing

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Herbert John Dowsing (c1859-1931) of Dowsing Radiant Heat Co

1859 born in Romford

1884 Married Louisa Lydia Bremer, sister of Frederick William Bremer, which may have led to Herbert becoming a mentor for Fred.

1891 Living at 5 Gladding Road, East Ham: Herbert J. Dowsing (age 32 born Romford), Electrical Engineer. With his wife Louisa L. Dowsing (age 32 born London City) and their daughter Ethel L. Dowsing (age 5 born Essex).[1]

1892 Gives demonstrations of cooking by electricity at Crystal Palace

Assisted Mr. Hewetson with the Benz car with regard to electrical ignition, and ran a Benz car on the public highway before the 1896 Act was passed.

1896 With Fred Bremer, he took out 2 patents on driving gear for motor carriages and on electric lighting for a car.

1896 March. Patent. '6,417. H. J. Dowsing and F. Bremer, "New or improved driving gear for motor carriages."'[2]

1896. H. J. Dowsing an electrical engineer fitted an Arnold with the world’s first self-starter. This was a dynamotor coupled to the flywheel which was supposed to assist the car on hills and well as to start the engine

1896 With H. S. Keating patented a mercury vapour lamp[3]

1897 April. Appointed. H. J. Dowsing and R. Applegarth to organise an exhibition at Crystal Palace.[4]

1899 Partnership dissolved. '... the Partnership (if any) heretofore subsisting between us the undersigned Herbert John Dowsing and William Snowdon Hedley, carrying on business as Electrical Engineers, at 24, Budge-row, Cannon-street, in the city of London, and at Uxbridge-road, Baling West, in the county of Middlesex, under the" style or firm of Herbert John Dowsing, has been dissolved by mutual consent...'[5]

1904 M.I.E.E., of 24, Budge Row, Cannon Street, London, E.C.; and Helena Chambers, Broadway, Ealing, London.

1931 January 5th. Died in Middlesex. Probate to his widow Louisa Lydia Dowsing and to Ethel Louisa, the wife of Frederick William Pullen


1931 Obituary [6]

HERBERT JOHN DOWSING, who died on the 5th January, 1931, was for over 50 years engaged in electrical, mechanical and scientific industry.

As a pioneer he was one of the few who saw the possibilities of using electricity for domestic, industrial and medical purposes. He was closely associated with one of the first experiments in running electric trams at Ilford; later, acting for Messrs. Crompton and Co., he took an active part in the installation of the electric railway on Southend Pier. He assisted in the erection of the generating plant at the Crystal Palace, and was in charge of Messrs. Crompton's exhibits at the Exhibition there. Later he acted as London manager to the firm.

After many years of work in the laboratory he evolved the combined electric generator and self-starter for motorcars as far back as 1890, but engineers engaged in the building of cars were then far too busy in concentrating upon horse-power to consider the proposition of the generator.

In 1891 he was engaged in carrying out the technical education scheme of the Essex County Council. Numerous patents, including one for the mercury vapour lamp, emanated from him, but he was unable to maintain them owing to the cost of renewal and the lack of financial support for applying them on a commercial basis.

About 1895 he invented his well-known and widely used devices for making radiant-heat applications for the alleviation of rheumatism and kindred complaints.

During the War this treatment was adopted by the Government for use in over 100 war hospitals.

The type of luminous electric radiator which employs long heat lamps was also his invention; this apparatus created the foundation of the demand for electricity for heating purposes in modern homes and business premises.

He was the founder and managing director of the Dowsing Radiant Heat Co., Ltd., managing director of the Hampstead Picture Playhouse, Ltd., and a director of the Egham and Staines Electricity Supply Co., Ltd.

His genial disposition endeared him to everyone with whom he came in contact. Many young engineers have reason to thank him for the help he gave them on the threshold of their careers, and he was held in the highest esteem by the medical profession.

He was elected an Associate of the Institution in 1889 and a Member in 1891.


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