New Baltimore Laboratory Named in Honor of Fred Locke


Publication: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Rochester, NY, United States

New Baltimore Laboratory Names In

Honor of Fred M. Locke of Victor


On Sept. 30, 1947, at Baltimore, Md., a new research laboratory built and equipped by the Locke Insulator Corporation of that city will be dedicated as the F. M. Locke Ceramic Research Laboratory. Through this designation, the new modern laboratory will be made a memorial to a Victor resident who strove toward fulfillment of his vision under the handicap of very limited funds and equipment and succeeded in making his dream a reality.

As telegraph operator and agent at the New York Central station in Victor, the young Fred M. Locke strove to overcome the breaking down of insulators because of the effects of moisture, and eventually became the inventor of the high voltage porcelain petticoat insulator now in common use throughout the world. The Locke insulators made possible a much more rapid growth in the use of electricity than could otherwise have been achieved, and they were used on a high voltage long distance power line on the Pacific Coast which is believed to have been the first line of its kind ever built. The demand for the insulators became so brisk that would-be buyers would come to Victor and search through the scrap in the hope of finding rejects which would answer their purpose. The manufacture of the insulators was first begun in Victor in 1893 after Mr. Locke had constructed a kiln and built a factory in which he employed a few men. The business was incorporated in 1902.

Mr. Locke's early experiments were conducted in his home with the kitchen stove as his kiln. Throughout those clays of effort, Mrs. Locke had boundless faith in her husband's final success and assisted him in every possible way. In later years, a large and well-equipped laboratory was a part of their commodious home on East Main Street, and there Mr. Locke experimented upon and perfected the boro-silicate glass used in making heat-resistant dishes for cooking and baking purposes. His formula for that ware was purchased by the Corning Glass Works, which manufactures the ware in large quantities.

In his later experiments, Mr. Locke had the joy of having his son, Fred J., who also had an inventive mind, as co-worker. The death of the son in 1930 was followed, six weeks later, by the death of the father, but it is only recently that the laboratory in which they worked has been dismantled. Mrs. Locke still occupies achievements will be so fittingly the East Main Street home.

Victor, long the home of Mr. Locke, owes its prosperity to the Locke insulator in large degree and other Western New York towns shared in the prosperity brought about by the invention. Factories in Lima and LeRoy, which stemmed from the Victor plant, give employment to many men, and the large plant in Baltimore which retains the name of The Locke Insulator Corporation employs more. Plants in Canada and other foreign countries also grew out of the local enterprise. Beside the benefit to many individuals stands the value of the insulator to the development of the use of electricity, all together forming a worldwide value which cannot be estimated.

Mrs. Fred M. Locke has been urgently invited to attend the dedication of the F. M. Locke Ceramic Laboratory at Baltimore on September 30 as a guest of The Locke Insulator Corporation. Her many Victor friends hope that she may feel equal to the trip, and that one or more of her sons, Morton F., Louis P., Peer and James L., may also be able to attend the ceremonies in which their father's achievements will be so fittingly recognized.

Keywords:Fred Locke : Locke Insulator Corporation
Researcher notes: 
Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Elton Gish
Date completed:August 7, 2010 by: Elton Gish;