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Joseph Fitzallan Simpson

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Joseph Fitzallan Simpson (1869 - 1951)

1896 electrical engineer, of Hapton, near Burnley

1951 Obituary[1]

Joseph Fitzallan Simpson, who died on the 1st January, 1951, at a St. Anne's nursing home, was born in Manchester on the 16th August, 1869. He received his early education at a private school at Whitby, his engineering education at the Manchester School of Technology, and his practical training as an apprentice with the Manchester Edison and Swan Co. For some years he was associated with his brother in the firm of Simpson Bros, at Hapton, near Burnley, in the manufacture of gramophones and low-voltage magnetos for use in cotton machinery. In 1888, soon after the firm was founded, he installed 50-c.p. lamps in the streets of Hapton. With reference to this installation, a cutting from the Preston Guardian (21st September, 1888) contains the following observation: "We are inclined to believe that this [Hapton] is the first village in England upon which this distinction has been conferred." At the same time he installed a "20-light Edison dynamo" in his father's cotton mill. Later he became a partner in a Wigan firm which specialized in overhead-line equipment for tramways; he also acted as electrical consultant to the Tower and Winter Gardens at Blackpool. In 1904 he was appointed Assistant Tramways Manager at Preston, but almost immediately was promoted to Manager, owing to the ill health of his chief. The trams were then horse-drawn, but in June, 1905, he had the honour of driving the first electric tram in Preston. In 1922, when the Corporation took over the electricity supply undertaking, he relinquished the post and became Borough Electrical Engineer. Under his direction the Ribble power station was planned and built, and the area of supply was considerably extended. When he retired in 1934 the number of consumers had increased from 3,000 to 28,000, and the price of electricity had fallen from 4.144d. to 0.693d. a kilowatt-hour.

He was a striking figure, being well over six feet in height, though rather slightly built. He had a keen sense of humour, was always the friend of the "little man," and was greatly admired by the staff and workpeople alike; the industry has suffered a great loss in his passing.

Mr. Simpson, who has recently been described as one of the rapidly disappearing little band of pioneers, was for many years President of the Preston Scientific Society, a founder Member of the Northern Society of Electrical Engineers, and became a Member of The Institution in 1900, when the Society became the Manchester Local Section of The Institution.

1952 Obituary [2]

"JOSEPH FITZALLAN SIMPSON was formerly the borough electrical engineer to the Corporation of Preston and had been in its service for thirty years. He was educated at the Manchester Municipal College of Technology and served his apprenticeship with the Manchester Edison Swan Company, Ltd., electrical engineers, from 1886 to 1888. His first employment, as a contractor for electric lighting and power installations at Hapton, near Burnley, Lancs., lasted until 1900 when he became managing director to the Blackpool Engineering Works, Ltd. In 1904, at the conclusion of a two-year engagement as works manager to S. H. Heywood, Ltd., Reddish, he joined the staff of Preston Corporation and after holding the position of chief assistant engineer for a year was appointed borough electrical and tramways engineer and manager. In this capacity he was responsible to the chief engineer for the design and construction of the entire tramways system. He ceased to be tramways manager in 1923 when the corporation purchased the National Electricity Co, and from then on he devoted all his energy to electricity supply until his retirement eleven years later. Mr. Simpson had been a Member of the Institution since 1913 and was also a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers. His death, in his eighty-second year, occurred at St. Annes, Lancashire, on 1st January 1951. "

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