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British Industrial History

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Walter Angove Clatworthy

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Walter Angove Clatworthy (1866-1948). Invented the Holmes-Clatworthy system of driving printing machinery.

1895 Manager of Acme and Immisch Electric Works


1949 Obituary.[1]

WALTER ANGOVE CLATWORTHY, who died on the 22nd November, 1948, was born on the 13th September, 1866.

He was educated at Bristol Grammar School, at the High School, Hampstead, at King's College, London, and at the City and Guilds of London Institute. After a three-year mechanical engineering apprenticeship with Fell and Co., he was with Immisch and Co for nine years as draughtsman and Chief Engineer, and had some share there in the development of an electric drive for small boats. He was also with the General Electric Power and Traction Co before going, in 1897, to J. H. Holmes and Co as Chief Engineer, a post he held for 19 years.

He was an expert in the driving of printing machinery, and converted a large number of printing works from line-shaft drive to individual electric-motor drive. In 1898 he patented, with Messrs. Holmes, what came to be known as the "Holmes-Clatworthy" system of driving rotary printing-presses. It was used mainly for large newspaper-presses, and marked a considerable advance, particularly in smoothness of starting and ease of inching. Equipments were installed in a large proportion of the British newspaper offices, and many went abroad also. The considerable elaboration of the automatic controllers for these equipments, and of other control systems, in addition, was Mr. Clatworthy's personal problem—a great one in those comparatively early days—and the success with which he worked out every detail is a high tribute to his pioneering skill.

In 1916 he left Messrs. Holmes and went to Wheatley Kirk, Price and Co., auctioneers, surveyors, and valuers. Later in 1916 he joined the Royal Engineers, and at the end of the war he returned to Wheatley Kirk, Price and Co. For 20 years he was their chief valuer; he then became proprietor of the company and was actively at work right up to the time of his last illness. He had had the bad fortune to have his extensive records destroyed by bombing during the Second World War, but with admirable courage he set about replacing them in one way and another, when perhaps another man of his age might have looked upon the incident as a hint that he might go into retirement.

He became a Member of The Institution in 1899, and so was connected with it for close on half a century. He served as an ordinary member of the Committee of the Newcastle Local Section from 1904 to 1911, and was then elected Hon. Treasurer. He was also an Associate Member of The Institution of Mechanical Engineers. His paper on "The Electro-Hydraulic Pumping Plant at the Bristol Docks" was published in the Journal in 1909.


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