Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,411 pages of information and 245,908 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Robert Hammond

From Graces Guide

Robert Hammond (1850–1915), electrical engineer

1850 Born on 19 January at Park Lane, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, the son of Robert Hammond, brewer, and his wife, Ann.

Educated at Nunhead grammar school.

First job was in the counting-house of a London cloth merchant

1866 joined the engineering (sic) firm Ullathorne and Co of Lincoln's Inn Fields.

1872 Moved to Bryant, Forster and Co, iron merchants, in Newcastle upon Tyne.

After a short period with another iron merchant, James Jennings, he established his first engineering company, the partnership of Hammond, Kyle and Co., but this was ruined by a crash in South American securities.

1878 Began electrical engineering (alongside his iron ore interests). His first lighting installations were of arc lamps, illuminating various iron companies' works in the north east of England.

Established Hammond and Co.

1881 Involved in some of the early public and municipal lighting schemes, including those at Chesterfield and Brighton in 1881, and Hastings and Eastbourne in 1882. Set up House To House Electric Light Supply Co in London, and a similar company in Dublin for public electricity supply. Responsible for dozens of public lighting installations, as well as several for heavy industry, and schemes in Ireland and Spain.

1881 May have been in charge of the School of Electrical Engineering and Submarine Telegraphy

Helped to fund Sebastian Ziani de Ferranti's early work on dynamos.

1884 wrote one of the first popular handbooks on electric light, The Electric Light in our Homes, published in 1884

1884 Founded Hammond Electrical Engineering College but this failed the following year

1889 helped to establish one of the first technical colleges, Faraday House, after an earlier attempt to found a college had failed.

1891 he launched a journal, Lightning, which aimed to provide information about the electricity industry for users and customers, which later became the Electrical Times.

1893 he gave up contracting engineering to concentrate on consulting and expert witness work.

1893 Elected a member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE) in 1893

1902 Became honorary treasurer of IEE.

1903 Went into partnership with son Robert Whitehead Hammond, also giving an interest to Mr John May and Mr G. W. Spencer Hawes who had been his chief assistants for many years. His business was known from then on as Richard Hammond and Son.[1]

1915 Died at Hampstead

1915 Obituary [2]

ROBERT HAMMOND was born at Waltham Cross, Herts., on 19th January 1850, and was educated at the Nunhead Grammar School.

In the "Seventies" he became interested in the importation of iron ore into Middlesbrough. It was in connexion with this undertaking as well as his engineering business in London that in 1878, he took up electricity with a view to applying it to the development of his schemes. He was the first to advocate electric lighting in this country — he even claimed that his house at Highgate was the first in Europe to be lighted entirely by incandescent electric lamps.

Becoming the first concessionnaire of the Brush Electric Light Corporation, Ltd., he was highly instrumental in ensuring the success of the Brush arc machine in this country.

In connexion with the invention of the Swan incandescent lamp, he devoted his attention to centralizing power, and to distributing current by high tension.

He laid down the first plants of this kind in this country, namely, at Brighton, Eastbourne, and Hastings.

In 1883, and again in 1888, he went to the United States, where he visited the leading electric light stations. With the view to studying the progress made in electric traction, he, later, paid two more visits to the United States, in 1901 and 1903. Mr. Hammond put down the supply works of numerous towns in this country and abroad, among which may be mentioned Ayr, Blackpool, Burton-on-Trent, Canterbury, Coventry, Dublin, Gloucester, Hackney (London), Hornsey (London), Leeds, Madrid, Malaga, Mansfield, Middlesbrough, Newport (Mon.), Pembroke, Rathmines, St. Helens, Wakefield, and West Brompton (London). In connexion with these undertakings be acted mostly as consulting engineer, though be was contractor for one or two of the earlier ones. He also carried out various extensions of municipal works.

In conjunction with many of the above schemes, Mr. Hammond supervised the installation of refuse destructors, the largest of which, in the Rhondda district, has but recently been completed. In the matter of electric tramways, be was associated with the development of 3 number of places such as Middlesbrough, Exeter, Rhondda, Bloemfontein, etc., and acted in 1910 as arbitrator between the Paisley Tramways Co. and the Paisley Corporation, and also in 1911 between the Gravesend Corporation and the tramway company of that town, in regard to the price to be paid for electrical energy for traction purposes.

As an expert witness Mr. Hammond's services were in frequent request at Parliamentary Committees.

He also acted for the London County Council in connexion with its Bulk Supply Bills, in 1906 and 1907. In the latter year he prepared a scheme, together with Mr. H. F. Parshall, for the supply of electricity in bulk to Greater London. A Bill was introduced to this effect in Parliament in 1908, but after passing the House of Lords, was rejected by the Committee in the House of Commons. Ho was one of the advisers to the Postmaster-General for the acquisition of the telephone system.

Mr. Hammond was well known in the capacity of a writer. In 1883 he published the first book written on private house electric lighting, entitled "Electric Light in our Homes." He also produced numerous Papers and articles for Technical Societies and the Press. One of these Papers, which he read before the British Association in Johannesburg in 1905, was on "Electric Power Distribution for the Rand." In it he advocated the erection of generating works at Vereeniging. This drew strong opposition for some years, but the Victoria Falls and Power Co., which took up the business, eventually followed the lines laid down by him, and erected their works at Vereeniging.

In 1884 he founded the Hammond Electrical Engineering College, and in 1890 the Electrical Standardizing, Testing and Training Institution.

His death took place at Hampstead, London, on 5th August 1915, in his sixty-sixth year.

He was elected a Member of this Institution in 1899. He was also a Member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, of the Institution of Electrical Engineers, and of the Association of Consulting Engineers.

1916 Obituary [3]

ROBERT HAMMOND, born at Waltham Cross on the 19th January, 1850, died at Hendon on the 5th August, 1915.

He was a pioneer in the development in this country of the applications of electricity to lighting and power. He took up electrical engineering in 1878, having previously carried on business as an iron merchant at Middlesbrough, and was largely instrumental in introducing first the arc-lamp and later the glow-lamp into general use for public, industrial and domestic purposes.

In addition to works and private installations, he designed and laid down electric stations at Ayr, Blackpool, Burton, Canterbury, Coventry, Dublin, Eastbourne, Gloucester, Hastings, Leeds, Madrid, Malaga, Middlesbrough, Newport, Pembroke, St. Helens, Tonbridge, Wakefield, and several London boroughs, as well as extensions at Bath, Bray and Bloemfontein.

At many stations refuse-destructors were installed under his supervision, and he also carried out tramways for various municipalities. He frequently acted in rating appeals and arbitrations, and was well known as an expert witness in Parliamentary Committee Rooms. He acted for the London County Council in their bulk supply scheme in 1906 and 1907, and as an adviser of the Postmaster-General on the transfer of the telephones. He was a prolific writer on technical subjects and was a member of the principal technical societies. He founded the Electrical Standardizing, Testing and Training Institution and served continuously on the Board of Governors.

Mr. Hammond was elected a Member of the Institution on the 6th December, 1898.

1916 Obituary [4]

ROBERT HAMMOND, Honorary Treasurer of the Institution, died on the 5th August, 1915.

A memoir of him in these pages is at once a grateful and an embarrassing task. He was so intensely human, his sympathies and activities were so diverse, that no honest admirer can help grudging the limits that electrical specialization imposes. If the path is here and there transgressed, the fault must be counted as objective rather than subjective.

Robert Hammond was born at Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, on the 19th January, 1850, and was educated at Nunhead Grammar School. Soon after leaving school he entered the counting house of some cloth merchants in St. Paul's Churchyard. Here he became one of the chief clerks in the foreign department, but the hide-bound routine of this occupation quickly disgusted him, he threw it off and looked about him for something more worthy of his abilities. These were both great and various; more than one of the persons associated with him have wondered that the electrical field should have contained him. Men far less richly endowed have made names for themselves in the nation's general history. This failure is less due, perhaps, to genuine want of concentration than to the impatience of a highly sanguine temperament. Such strongly marked characters are so complex as at times to appear inconsistent. His capacity for real, hard, slogging work was prodigious, he was never seen idle. Yet towards slavish routine which held no excelsior promise his attitude was almost that of the truant who, condemned to a holiday task, catches the glint of sunshine on the apple trees outside. The electrical industry is indebted to this knight-errant ambition. But it was also this consciousness of the open window that drew him abroad; his spirit of adventure equipped him as a rancher, and at one time he came into collision with one of the most redoubtable outlaws in the United States. That, however, is one of many romantic episodes outside the present picture. It is more to the purpose that he went to Bilbao in connection with the iron-ore trade, and thence we can easily trace the connection with Middlesbrough, rolling mills, and the electric lighting thereof. It should here be noted that he was related to the Dormans

[missing p 680]

parallel running of alternators, an excellent one before the Institution- in London on "Cost of generation and distribution of electrical energy," and another on "Depreciation" read in similar circumstances. He also read at Johannesburg in 1905 an interesting paper on "Power distribution." He enjoyed travel; he visited the United States in early life, also again in 1901 and 1903 to study electrical progress. Having lived in Spain, his work afterwards took him there frequently, as also to France, Italy, Germany, and Constantinople, but he had such marvellous health and recuperative power that no ordeals of travel ever upset him. There are many things to be remembered in Robert Hammond's honour. We sometimes speak of the Englishman's characteristic inertia against change. Were all Englishmen like Robert Hammond, this country would have recognized and fostered every industrial improvement from babyhood to man's estate. If in public his incisive wit sometimes provided him with a few antagonists, those who knew him privately as "the Chief," or spoke of him not unkindly as "the Old Man," understood that he would never consciously cause pain. He left many deeply indebted to him, and from his funeral last August, more than one of the large group of mourners came away with a face unfit for parade. Bearing in mind Robert Hammond's personality of the last 10 or 20 years, one looks back upon him as a man over-brimming with good humour, with large, frank, blue eyes under somewhat heavy eyebrows, the beard and physique of a Bluff King Hal, the flowing locks of a Rufus, the memory of a Macaulay, and such energy as is seldom given to mortal man. Wherever he went, even in a crowded assembly, he was always a notable figure. The National Liberal Club misses him. On expeditions he was acclaimed as boute-on-train. This being an age of meticulous and specialized detail, broad volatile genius such as that of Robert Hammond is hedged round with its limitations. But in 1492 he might have discovered America.

E. S. Robert Hammond was elected an Associate of the Institution in 1888, and was transferred to the class of Members in 1893. He became a Member of Council in 1899, and served in that capacity until 1902. In the last-mentioned year Professor Ayrton relinquished the position of Honorary Treasurer, and Mr. Hammond was elected in his stead. To this office, which he retained until his death, Mr. Hammond brought all those qualities which have been recorded above. He was unstinting of his time, precise in his preparations, and entered into all the work of his office with an enthusiasm which sometimes ran the risk of overshadowing the painstaking detail. It is as Honorary Treasurer that he will be best remembered, but his active work in the Institution also took other forms. He was a prime mover in the preparation of the Model General Conditions, and he was accustomed to attribute some of the success in the adoption of those Conditions to the experience which he had gained in the dual capacities first as contractor and subsequently as consulting engineer. His contributions to our discussions were frequent, always practical, and sometimes characterized by touches of humour in matter or manner which ensured him a welcome as a speaker. By the Council and by the Members generally the loss of Robert Hammond will be much deplored.

See Also


Sources of Information