Publication: The Electrical Engineer
New York, NY, United States
IN our columns last week we made the sad announcement of the death of Mr. Latimer Clark. C. E., F. R. S., which took place at his residence at Twickenham, England, on Oct. 30. This announcement has been received with profound regrets by a large number of friends of Mr. Clark on this side of the Atlantic, and we give below a short sketch of his active and useful career.
Latimer Clark was born at Great Marlow on March 10, 1822, and attained, therefore, the ripe age of 76 years. Though it is perhaps not well known. Mr. Clark was at first connected with the chemical manufacturing industry, and commenced railway surveying in 1847. He was appointed assistant engineer for the construction of the Britannia tubular bridge across the Menai Strait, under his brother, Mr. Edwin Clark, the resident engineer. During his stay at Menai Bridge Mr. Latimer Clark used electricity to fire a time-gun every evening at 8 o'clock. The attention of the chairman of the Electric Telegraph Company was, through this, called to the young engineer, who, in 1850, was appointed assistant engineer to the company, under his brother, becoming afterwards their engineer-in-chief and consulting engineer.
Many improvements in the telegraph system were subsequently introduced by Mr. Clark; and a very able report on the subject of underground telegraph wires was prepared by him in 1860, which was embodied later in the Government report in 1861. He was the first witness to the retardation of electric signals by induction in submarines lines, and to demonstrate that currents of low tension travel as fast as those of high tension. In 1859, Mr. Clark invented and patented the double cup insulator for overland telegraph wires, now so largely employed throughout the world. To him is due the important invention, in 1854, of the pneumatic transmission of messages, now so largely used. The invention of a method of protecting submarine cables by Clark's compound followed in 1858. In 1860 he acted as a member of the committee appointed jointly by the Government and the Atlantic Cable Telegraph Company to inquire into the whole subject of submarine telegraph cables. Mr. Clark was also for many years engineer to the Indian Government cable lines in the Persian Gulf. His determination of the effect of temperature on the insulation of gutta percha cables, in connection with Sir Charles Bright, in 1863, proved highly valuable, and is still in daily use. He also, with the same gentleman, originated in 1861 the system of electrical measurement in ohms, volts and farads, which has now come into universal use, and has conferred such vast benefits on electrical science. The paper on this subject was read at the British Association at Manchester in September, 1861, before the formation of the well-known British Association Committee on Electrical Units, and led to the appointment of that committee. He is also the inventor of the well-known Clark's standard cell.
As head of the firm of Clark, Fords & Co., Mr. Latimer Clark has been connected with the submergence of some 100,000 miles of submarine cables in all parts of the globe. We may mention the publication by him, in 1868, of a Treatise on Electrical Measurement, and in 1871, in conjunction with Mr. Robert Sabine. of his electrical tables and formulae for operations in submarine cables, besides other papers of great value. Mr. Latimer Clark has taken out a large number of patents in different countries, many of his inventions being of great value. For a number of years a partner in the engineering firm of Clark & Standfield, and the late firm of Latimer Clark, Muirhead & Co., he has brought out many important improvements in different branches of engineering, and was still head of the firm of Clark & Standfield, the well-known dock engineers. Mr. Clark was the author of several astronomical works, and of a valuable dictionary of metric and other useful measures. Besides being a Fellow of the Royal Society, he was a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur and past president of the Society of Telegraph Engineers.