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British Industrial History

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Henry Justice Eck

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Henry Justice Eck (1865-1941)

1941 Obituary [1]

H. JUSTUS ECK, M.A., son of Justus Alexander Eck who was a wholesale drug merchant and expert in gutta percha, being selector of this product for the first Atlantic cables, was born in 1865 at Clapham.

Educated at King's College School, he obtained his electrical training first in the Edison Telephone Co. and then with Edward Paterson (Paterson and Cooper), where he had charge of their dynamo department, making Elphinstone-Vincent, Maxim-Weston, Lumley and other pioneer designs of generators and motors.

He also conducted with the late Sir Thomas Callender the electrical tests which established the Callender cable. He was sent as erecting engineer to Milan, where he carried out theatre and silk-mill installations and worked with Pirelli.

Returning from Italy he commenced with a partner to manufacture bells and indicators, also, as Frederick Young and Co., he made telephone cases, using the first wood combing machines in England.

As a result of a calamitous fire, he decided to go to Cambridge, where he secured at Peterhouse an honours degree in chemistry, physics, mineralogy and botany.

Leaving Cambridge he accepted a position as junior engineer with Laing, Wharton and Down, and eventually became Chief Engineer in that firm.

Subsequently he was appointed departmental chief of the firm of Geipel and Lange.

Later he was offered the position of Technical Manager of the Union Electric Co., and became sole Manager and Engineer-in-Chief of that concern, establishing associated companies in Australia, Canada and the United States.

On the outbreak of the 1914-18 war he took charge of three munition works, and upon the cessation of hostilities he established the business of Eck and Brook, with his chief technical assistant as partner.

Retiring from this business in 1932 due to failing health, he occupied his time as a consultant and in aiding the Electrical Industries Benevolent Association, which he had initiated by a letter to the electrical Press in December, 1904, and for which he worked untiringly, holding the office of Honorary Secretary at the time of his death on the 21st May, 1941.

He was one of the oldest members of The Institution, having been elected a Student in 1883, an Associate in 1885, and a Member in 1891. He was one of the founders of the Illuminating Engineering Society and on a journey to South Africa wrote a book on arc lamps and, subsequently, one on light radiation. Of a retiring disposition, he had untiring activity and spent much time in his workshop and laboratory, and devoted considerable attention to the subject of non-ferrous metals, becoming Master of the Pewterers Company in 1935. He will be remembered as one of the greatest characters of the electrical industry. His knowledge, not merely of electricity and its history, but of the world in general, was encyclopaedic, and, while he had great personal charm of manner, it arose from a deep, friendly sincerity which will never be forgotten by those who came under its influence.

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