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British Industrial History

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Thomas Fielding Altham

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Thomas Fielding Altham (1899-1951), Managing Director, Transformers and Welders Ltd., Sandown Road, Watford.

Inventor of the Hackbridge-Altham Protective System and a number of other transformer and cable inventions and developments. Part author of "Voltage Regulation."

1951 Obituary.[1]

Thomas Fielding Altham died as the result of an accident on the 21st July, 1951. He was born at Blackburn on the 18th April, 1899, and was educated at the grammar school there and at the Universities of Manchester and Grenoble. He served his apprenticeship with the English Electric Co. at Stafford, and from 1926 to 1937 he was with the Hackbridge Electric Construction Co., where he was Assistant Technical Director and Export Manager. At this stage he founded his own firm at Watford, Transformers and Welders, Ltd., which flourished under his care. During and some time after the First World War he served in the Navy on the China Station.

Altham loved the simple and beautiful things of life. He suffered from the disadvantage of deafness, but this very fact augmented an inherent interest in worthwhile things. This showed in his eyes, which were expressive and revealed trains of thought which soon were expressed in elegant speech and almost always put into action. He loved travel, especially by sea, and wondered at its many facets and attractions.

He entered very fully into the life and welfare of Watford. All work requiring intelligence and tact became his personal interest. Technical and adult education and the Rotary movement were his particular care. This latter work he carried from home to far afield, and his wide knowledge and gifted speech were often employed to the delight of others. None of these interests was allowed to interfere with commercial and technical matters. In both these he was diligent and accomplished.

The world for some years past has suffered from selfishness. The attitude of many seems to be "Why should I do this?" Altham's attitude was the opposite, and many will remember with gratitude and pleasure his contact with them and perhaps follow his modest example.

He joined The Institution as an Associate Member in 1930 and was elected a Member in 1941. In recent years he acted with ability as Chairman of the Transformer Division of the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers' Association.

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