Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,415 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.

Siemens and Halske

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Siemens, Halske and Co, telegraph engineers, contractors and cable manufacturers.

of 3 Great George Street, 12 Millbank Row, and Charlton.

1844 Werner Siemens, whilst still an army officer, saw opportunities for telegraphy [1].

1847 Telegraphen-Bauanstalt von Siemens und Halske (which later became Siemens and Halske AG), an electrical engineering company, was established by Werner Siemens and Johann George Halske in Berlin. The company later set up a branch in Britain run by William Siemens. The German company later became part of Siemens AG.

1849 William Siemens publicised the telegraphic inventions of Siemens and Halske in England; the company's work in Germany was already extensive. In 1849 he read a paper at the Society of Arts describing his brother Werner's achievements in telegraphy.

1850 An English agency for the Siemens and Halske company was established. An agreement was signed between the two brothers.

In March 1850, William Siemens introduced his brother's gutta-percha wire covering to the British Electric Telegraphic Company and, soon afterwards, arranged to manufacture it in Great Britain. He next induced Fox, Henderson and Co to take up the work and. under his direction, large contracts were executed by that firm and Siemens and Halske for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, etc.

1851 Other cables followed the success of the Submarine Telegraph Co's cross-Channel cable. Newall and Co of Gateshead established extensive works for the construction of submarine cables.

1858 Newall's engaged Siemens and Halske as their electrical and consulting engineers; William Siemens carried out the tests.

1858 The growing demand for telegraphic cables encouraged William Siemens to register Siemens and Halske in England, very much against the wishes of Halske [2]. He established a small factory at Millbank.

1861 Siemens and Halske acted as electricians for the Government in the laying down the Malta and Alexandria Cable. The cable was divided into three sections, with a total length of about 1,350 miles. At about this time Werner and William Siemens wrote a joint paper for the British Association, embodying their studies of the 'Principles and Practice involved in dealing with the Electric Conditions of Submarine Electric Telegraphs.' They recommended India-rubber as an insulator, and devised an ingenious machine for applying it to cables.

1861 R. S. Newall and Co sold the goodwill of the submarine cables part of the business to Siemens and Halske. Halske was unhappy at the risks that he anticipated in taking on the main competitors Glass, Elliot and Co and eventually withdrew from the British company[3].

1862 At the International Exhibition of 1862 Siemens and Halske exhibited a great variety of electrical apparatus of various kinds, appearing both as British and as foreign exhibitors. The collection attracted wide notice, and was awarded three separate medals. William Siemens wrote an article in the Practical Mechanic's Journal, giving a full description of the collection, as well as a history of the electric telegraph.

1863 William Siemens, with the aid of the Berlin firm, established large works at Charlton, near Woolwich, for the manufacture of all kinds of telegraph instruments, apparatus, and materials, including submarine cables, which could then be shipped via the River Thames.

1864 Siemens and Halske obtained a contract from the French government to lay a cable from Oran (Algeria) to Cartagena (Spain), this being their first cable-laying expedition. Werner and William Siemens personally superintended the laying of the cable. Three attempts were made to complete it but they all failed. The failure involved the company in legal proceedings and cost it £15,000 which represented most of its capital. The disaster affected William Siemens keenly. Pressure from Halske finally brought this venture to an end. At the close of the year Halske left the English company.

1865 William raised capital in England to set up a new company and, on 1 January 1865, formed Siemens Brothers and Co. The partners were Werner Siemens, William Siemens, and Carl Siemens. The Berlin firm retained its old name of Telegraphen-Bauanstalt von Siemens und Halske.

See Also


Sources of Information

  • [1] Wikipedia
  • ODNB: Sir (Charles) William Siemens, by H. T. Wood, revised by Brian Bowers
  • British Cable manufacturers [[2]]