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British Industrial History

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Hubert Cecil Booth

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Hubert Cecil Booth (1871-1955) of British Vacuum Cleaner and Engineering Co, inventor of the vacuum cleaner and civil engineer

1871 July 4th. Hubert Cecil Booth was born in Gloucester the son of Abraham Booth, a lumber merchant

1881 Living at Belle View House, South Hamlet, Gloucester (age 9 born Gloucester). With his four brothers, visitors and servants. No listing of parents. [1]

1889 Moved to London to study engineering at the City and Guilds College (Central Technical College).

Joined Maudslay, Sons and Field under Charles Sells, where his first job was as a draughtsman helping design engines for Royal Navy battleships.

1891 Cecil Booth listed as a boarder in St Mary's Square, Paddington (age 19 born Gloucester). No trade. [2]

Designed bridges in Britain and overseas. Also designed big wheels for Paris, Vienna, Earl's Court and Blackpool

1900 Booth saw a demonstration of a new cleaning machine for railway cars that took the dust from one side of the car and sent it to a dust-box on the other side. He based the home vacuum cleaner on this

1901 Listed as a lodger at All Souls Place, Marylebone (age 29 born Gloucester), a Civil Engineer working on own account. [3]

1901 August 30th. Booth received a British patent for a vacuum cleaner that took the form of a large, horse-drawn, petrol-driven unit which was parked outside the building to be cleaned, with long hoses being fed through the windows. Until then vacuum cleaners blew the dust away, but Booth came up with the idea of sucking away dust, instead of blowing. Furthermore, Booth equipped his cleaner with a filter, which kept the dust in the machine.

1902 Founded British Vacuum Cleaner and Engineering Co

1903 Patent application. Of 6 Langham Chambers, Portland Place. [4]

Married a daughter of Francis Tring Pearce, director of the Priday, Metford and Co

1911 Living at Ambuley, Farley Lane, Purley (age 39 born Gloucester), a Civil and Consulting Engineer and Employer. With his wife Charlotte Mary (age 38 born Gloucester) and their children Rupert Francis Cecil (age 7 born Purley) and Edward B. (age 3 born Purley). Two servants. [5]

1952 Retires as chairman of British Vacuum Cleaner and Engineering Co

1955 January 14th. Died at a nursing home in Croydon aged 83.


1955 Obituary [6]

HUBERT CECIL BOOTH, who died in Croydon on the 14th January, 1955, was born on the 4th July, 1871.

He was educated at Gloucester County School, and received his engineering training at the Central Technical College, now known as the City and Guilds Engineering College, London.

He began his professional career in the drawing office of Maudslay, Sons and Field.

From 1894 to 1898 he was engaged in the design and construction of "Great Wheels" varying from 270 ft to 300 ft in diameter, for amusement parks in London, Blackpool, Paris, and Vienna.

In the following year he designed a structural steel factory in Belgium and managed it.

In 1900 he began a consulting practice in London.

In 1901 he invented the vacuum cleaner, and the success of his discovery laid the foundation of the vacuum cleaner industry throughout the world. Later he became Chairman and Managing Director of the British Vacuum Cleaner and Engineering Co.

From 1903 to 1940 he was in general practice, handling the design and construction of steel railway bridges, factory plant, and other structural steel work.

During World War I he was engaged on the installation of many vacuum-cleaning plants in high-explosive factories. One particular application of his invention was in the cleaning of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham for the Admiralty during a spotted fever epidemic. The epidemic subsided almost immediately.

From the end of the 1914-18 war he was concerned in the design of structural steelwork for factories and other buildings. He also designed many suspension bridges in Burma, India, and South Africa, and many over- and under-bridges both in steel and concrete for various railway companies in Britain.

He was elected an Associate Member in 1897, and was transferred to the class of Members in 1910. He was also a Fellow of the City and Guilds of London Institute.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1881 Census
  2. 1891 Census
  3. 1901 Census
  4. The Times, Wednesday, Jan 14, 1903
  5. 1901 Census
  6. 1955 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries