Obituary of J. Slater Lewis

[Trade Journal]

Publication: The Journal of the Iron and Steel Institute

London, England
vol. 60, no. 2, p. 330-331, col. 1

JOSEPH SLATER LEWIS died on July 27, 1901. He was born at the Rake House, Helsby, on June 4, 1852, and in his early years was closely connected with agricultural interests. He was at one time secretary to the Wirsal and Birkenhead Agricultural Societies. A natural bent towards mechanical studies led him to turn his attention to electricity, then chiefly represented by the electric telegraph, and in 1880 he invented his self-binding insulator, which was widely adopted both in Europe and the United States. After a visit to the latter country to dispose of his American rights, he returned to Helsby and commenced the manufacture of his insulator on a small scale, adding later on other branches of electrical work. Eventually this business, together with an insulated wire factory in the neighbourhood, was incorporated in the Telegraph Manufacturing Co., Limited. During the earlier growth and development of this concern, Mr. Lewis acted as managing director, himself taking the chief share in designing the buildings and plant. Relinquishing his connection with this Company in 1890, Mr. Lewis, after a brief sojourn in Birmingham, became manager to the firm of W. T. Goolden & Co., of London, which later on was incorporated with Easton & Anderson, of Erith. In 1894, some eighteen months after the amalgamation, he accepted an offer from the old-established firm of P. R. Jackson & Co., Limited, of the Salford Rolling Mills, Manchester, to equip and start a dynamo-making and electrical engineering department, shortly afterwards being appointed general manager of the entire business. At the end of 1900 he transferred his services to the Brush Electrical Engineering Co., Limited, as works director, so continuing until his sudden decease from an attack of apoplexy. He was the inventor of several electrical devices, but he is perhaps best known as the author of the standard book on "The Commercial Organisation of Factories," the pioneer work of its kind. This brought him into correspondence with progressive firms all over the world. Regarding the problems of business organisation as a connected whole, and looking on them from the point of view of a manager, he worked out a complete system of accounting, organisation, and contract, which must remain for many years to come a standard by which later developments will be judged. He was a keen student of the social and economic conditions of commercial life, and his broad views, often strikingly original and forcibly expressed, together with his exceptional administrative abilities and personal force and influence, made him a prominent figure in engineering circles, and he enjoyed to the full the confidence and respect of those whose good fortune it was to be associated with him. He was an associate member of the Institution of Civil Engineers, a member of the Institutions of Mechanical and Electrical Engineers, and of the Northern Society of Engineers, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. He was at one time a County Councillor for Cheshire, and chairman of its Weights and Measures Committee. Besides being the managing director of the Brush Electrical Engineering Co., he was at the time of his death a director of the Swansea Tramway Co. and of the Merthyr Electric Light and Traction Company. He was elected a member of the Iron and Steel Institute in 1898.


Keywords:Slater Lewis : CD 158.6
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Supplemental information: 
Researcher:Elton Gish
Date completed:August 25, 2010 by: Elton Gish;