Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 130,457 pages of information and 207,626 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Joseph Slater Lewis

From Graces Guide

Jump to: navigation, search

Joseph Slater Lewis (1852-1901)


1901 Obituary [1]

JOSEPH SLATER LEWIS was born at Helsby, Cheshire, on 4th June 1852.

He was educated at a private school at Nantwich, and at the Mechanics' Institution, Manchester.

From 1868 to 1872 he served his time with Mr. George Slater, land agent and surveyor, of Northwich, and on its termination he was engaged in the coal trade at Malpas for some years.

In 1879 he commenced on his own account as an electrical engineer at Helsby; and in the next year invented a self-binding insulator which was widely adopted in Europe and the United States. After a visit to the latter country to dispose of his American rights, he returned to Helsby and commenced the manufacture of his insulator on a small scale, adding later on other branches of electrical work.

Eventually this business together with an insulated wire factory in the neighbourhood, was incorporated as the Telegraph Manufacturing Co.

During the earlier growth and development of this concern, he acted as managing director, himself taking the chief part in designing the buildings and plant.

Relinquishing his connection with the company in 1889, he, after practising as an electrical engineer in Birmingham, became manager in 1892 of the works of Messrs. W. T. Goolden and Co., London, which later on was incorporated with Messrs. Easton and Anderson, of Erith.

In 1894 ho accepted an offer from Messrs. P. R. Jackson and Co., of the Salford Rolling Mills, Manchester, to equip and start a dynamo-making and electrical engineering department, and shortly afterwards was appointed general manager of the entire business.

At the end of 1900 he transferred his services to the Brush Electrical Engineering Co., as works director, and continued in this capacity until his death.

He was the inventor of several electrical devices, and was the author of the standard book on "The Commercial Organization of Factories."

At one time he was a county councillor for Cheshire, and chairman of its Weights and Measures Committee.

In addition to his connection with the Brush Electrical Engineering Co., he was a director of the Swansea Tramways Co., and of the Merthyr Electric Light and Traction Co.

His death took place suddenly from an attack of apoplexy at his residence in Norwood, London, on 27th July 1901, at the ago of forty-nine.

He became a Member of this Institution in 1898; he was also an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, of the Iron and Steel Institute, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.


1901 Obituary [2]

JOSEPH SLATER LEWIS died on July 27, 1901. He was born at the Rake House, Helsby, on June 4, 1852, and in his early years was closely connected with agricultural interests. He was at one time secretary to the Wirral and Birkenhead Agricultural Societies. A natural bent towards mechanical studies led him to turn his attention to electricity, then chiefly represented by the electric telegraph, and in 1880 he invented his self-binding insulator, which was widely adopted both in Europe and the United States. After a visit to the latter country to dispose of his American rights, he returned to Helsby and commenced the manufacture of his insulator on a small scale, adding later on other branches of electrical work. Eventually this business, together with an insulated wire factory in the neighbourhood, was incorporated in the Telegraph Manufacturing Co., Limited. During the earlier growth and development of this concern, Mr. Lewis acted as managing director, himself taking the chief share in designing the buildings and plant.

Relinquishing his connection with this Company in 1890, Mr. Lewis, after a brief sojourn in Birmingham, became manager to the firm of W. T. Goolden & Co., of London, which later on was incorporated with Easton & Anderson, of Erith.

In 1894, some eighteen months after the amalgamation, he accepted an offer from the old-established firm of P. R. Jackson & Co., Limited, of the Salford Rolling Mills, Manchester, to equip and start, a dynamo-making and electrical engineering department, shortly afterwards being appointed general manager of the entire business.

At the end of 1900 he transferred his services to the Brush Electrical Engineering Co., Limited, as works director, so continuing until his sudden decease from an attack of apoplexy. He was the inventor of several electrical devices, but he is perhaps best known as the author of the standard book on "The Commercial Organisation of Factories," the pioneer work of its kind. This brought him into correspondence with progressive firms all over the world. Regarding the problems of business organisation as a connected whole, and looking on them from the point of view of a manager, he worked out a complete system of accounting, organisation, and contract, which must remain for many years to come a standard by which later developments will be judged. He was a keen student of the social and economic conditions of commercial life, and his broad views, often strikingly original and forcibly expressed, together with his exceptional administrative abilities and personal force and influence, made him a prominent figure in engineering circles, and lie enjoyed to the full the confidence and. respect of those whose good fortune it was to be associated with him. He was an associate member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a member of the Institutions of Mechanical and Electrical Engineers, and of the Northern Society of Engineers, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He was at one time a County Councillor for Cheshire, and chairman of its Weights and Measures Committee. Besides being the managing director of the Brush Electrical Engineering Co., he was at the time of his death a director of the Swansea Tramway Co. and of the Merthyr Electric Light and Traction Company.

He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1898.


1902 Obituary [3]

JOSEPH SLATER LEWIS, whose death occurred at his residence, Clifford Lodge, Norwood, on the 27th of July, 1901, in his 50th year, was a man with many friends, and concerning whom even his enemies spoke well. He was vigorous, intelligent, genial, and straightforward.

Mr. Lewis came to reside in London only a few months before the date of his death, to take up the position of Director of the Brush Electrical Engineering Company.

He was also elected a Director of the Swansea Tramways Company, and of the Merthyr Electric Light and Traction Company.

The sphere of his activity was increasing rapidly when the disease (Bright's) which, unknown to him, had been sapping his vitality, claimed him as its victim.

Mr. Lewis was known to the electrical world principally as the constructor of the Helsby Cable Works and manager of the Salford Rolling Mills (P. R. Jackson & Co.), also as the author of "The Commercial Organisation of Factories," a monument to its author and a boon to all who desire to organise their manufacture on sound commercial lines.

Mr. Lewis's activity was not confined to electrical engineering. Whilst living at Helsby he was elected a member of the first Cheshire County Council for the Frodsham Division, and as Chairman of the Weights and Measures Committee he introduced many valuable reforms.

He was an Associate Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and of the Iron and Steel Institute, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He was elected an Associate of this Institution on the 14th of February, 1884, and was transferred to the class of Members on the 9th of February, 1898. He also served, in 1900, as a Member of the first Committee of the then newly-formed Manchester Local Section.


See Also

Loading...

Sources of Information

  1. 1901 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries
  2. 1901 Iron and Steel Institute: Obituaries
  3. 1902 Institution of Electrical Engineers: Obituaries