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Illius Augustus Timmis

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Illius Augustus Timmis (1839-1906)


1907 Obituary [1]

ILLIUS AUGUSTUS TIMMIS, eldest son of the late Thomas Timmis, of Brazil and Liverpool, was born on 23rd March 1839 at Begley, Worcestershire.

Having been educated at Cowley, he was apprenticed to Messrs. Ryder, cotton merchants, of Manchester. It was not long, however, before he interested himself in engineering matters, among which were the use of steel studs for baling hoops in place of rivets; the treatment, so as to make it non-inflammable, of brattice-cloth used in mines for regulating the air; and the extraction of oil, etc., from waste and sponge cloths. He was later connected with the manufacture of fire-bricks, and successfully developed the deeper measures of clay which are now largely used.

In 1875 he took out a patent for improvements in steel-coil springs, which are known all over the engineering world. Later, patents were taken out from time to time embodying improvements in the manufacture and fitting of springs as applied both to rolling-stock and to gun-mountings.

Having come to London in 1879, he brought out, in conjunction with Mr. J. R. Hodgson, a reversible lifeboat, for which silver medals were granted at the North East Coast Exhibition at Tynemouth in 1882, and at the International Fisheries Exhibition in 1883. These boats met with the approval of the Admiralty, Trinity House, and the Board of Trade officials, before whom experiments were carried out.

In 1882 he interested himself in the question of working railway signals and points by electric power, working in conjunction with Mr. C. C. Currie. The method of transmission was that of a long-pull electro-magnet, which he described in a Paper read before this Institution in 1884. Early installations were fitted up in the works of the Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Co., on the railways around Swansea Harbour, and on the Great Northern Railway at Woodside Park Station; also at the Inventions Exhibition at Earl's Court in 1885, and at the Paris Exhibition of 1889, where he received silver medals.

The automatic electric signals on the Liverpool Overhead Railway, fitted in 1892, were operated by an improved long-pull electromagnet, and in 1895, with the permission of the Metropolitan District Railway, he fitted up a complete installation, the chief result of which was that he gave the use of the long-pull electromagnet to the London and North Western Railway for embodiment in the "Crewe" system, which they have adopted as their standard for power working.

In 1886 he went into the question of train lighting by electricity, with the idea of making each carriage as far as practicable independent, and at the same time making the whole train under the direct control of the guard. Various patents were taken out in this and subsequent years, which included the operation of brakes by electricity, and also electric communication between passengers and guard. As a result, in 1888, he fitted up trains on the Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits, the Nicolas Railway of Russia, an experimental one for Melbourne, and for the Central Northern, Argentine, which latter also included some station lighting; in 1889, on the Central Argentine, in New South Wales, on the North Western, Argentine, and on the Santa Fe and Cordoba Great Southern, which latter also included some station lighting; also on another Russian Railway, and for the Warsaw Railway; and in 1895 the West Australian Government Railways.

In 1889 he took into partnership Edgar William Timmis, under the title of I. A. Timmis and Son.

There were many other engineering matters he went into, such as armour-plates and shields in 1873, spring-wheels for road locomotives in 1887, secondary batteries in 1888, and incandescent electric lamps in 1889.

His death took place on the S.S. "Etruria" from pneumonia and heart failure on 18th December 1906, in his sixty-eighth year, being then on his way home from America after a business tour of nearly three months' duration.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1894, and was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers.


1907 Obituary [2]



1907 Obituary [3]

ILLIUS AUGUSTUS TIMMIS died of pneumonia on December 13, 1906, on a voyage from America.

Mr. Timmis's work on the application of electricity to railway signalling is well known. About 1883-5 he developed his system of electrically working railway signals, points, and block instruments, and in 1885 a paper was read by him before the Institution, in which Mr. Stanley Currie's and his own inventions in this connection were fully described.

He also devised about the same time a system of lighting trains by electricity, and in conjunction therewith patented, jointly with Professor Forbes, a system of electric brakes for trains.

Among other practical applications of his inventions the automatic signals on the Liverpool Overhead Railway are operated by the Timmis long-pull electro-magnets.

Mr. Timmis was a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, and of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, and was elected a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1889.


1907 Obituary [4]



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1907 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  2. 1907 Institution of Civil Engineers: Obituaries
  3. 1907 Institution of Electrical Engineers: Obituaries
  4. Engineering 1907 Jan-Jun: Index: General Index