The IET Archives has very recently received a donation of a technical notebook that was used between 1918 and 1948 and belonged to Norwegian electrical engineer called Alf Schaanning.

This alphabetical notebook has a ring-binder format allowing for pages to be inserted and removed. The inscription at the front of the notebook indicates that Alf started adding entries from August 1918 when he worked for British Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company, Manchester. The latest dated entry is from 1948, shortly before Alf’s retirement in 1949.

The notebook covers three phases in Alf’s life; the period from 1918 to 1919 when Alf worked for British Westinghouse in Manchester; the period from 1919 to 1925 when Alf worked in Norway for British Westinghouse; and the period from 1925 to 1949 when Alf worked at the Walthamstow, London, factory of the Swedish-owned company ASEA Electric.

The notebook contains separate entries on technical subjects such as ‘choke coils’ and it also contains entries on installations at various locations in Britain and Scandinavia. Almost all the entries are handwritten and typically comprise descriptive notes, equations, drawings, commercial details, supplier pricing and test results. Printed tables and charts have also been inserted into the notebook. A typical entry is show below. The left-hand page entry refers to Rjukan, Norway, where Norsk Hydro built a hydroelectric power plant that opened in 1911.


Alf Schaanning and his Family

Alf Schaanning (1881-1963) was born in Kristiania (now Oslo) 20 May 1881. His father, Peder Schaanning was a civil engineer for the city and his mother Agnes Salvasen studied electrical engineering at Schottenburg University, Germany. Alf was one of five brothers.

Alf served in the Norwegian army during the bloodless revolution with Sweden on a searchlight battery in 1903. After gaining his degree he moved to England and worked in Manchester for British Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company around 1908. Alf married Mary L Holmes and they had a daughter Dagmar in 1919. Shortly after the birth of Dagmar, the family moved to Norway for Alf’s work, where they stayed for 6 years. During this time Alf and Mary had a son, Per-Anthony, who was born in 1923.

After this period in Norway, Alf and family moved back to the UK. He moved to Walthamstow, London, to work for the company ASEA Electric, known for making large transformers. Alf joined the IEE as an Associate Member in 1939 and retired from work in 1949.

Alf’s son Per-Anthony, also joined the IEE at some point after 1939, probably as a Student member. However, tragically, Per-Anthony was killed in World War II. He was serving as a Radio Officer in the Norwegian Merchant Navy and he died in 1943 after being torpedoed in the North Atlantic on a Norwegian oil tanker. Per-Anthony is listed on the IEE’s WWII Honour Roll – see image below taken from the Honour Roll.


ASEA Electric at Walthamstow

John Fuller was appointed as the Great Britain sales representative of the Swedish firm ASEA in 1896 in order to sell ASEA single-phase motors. As a result of Fuller’s success the company Fuller-Wenstrom Electrical Manufacturing was set up as a subsidiary of ASEA in 1898 (George Wenstrom was the Managing Director of ASEA).

Fuller-Wenstrom opened a factory in the Haunch of Venison Yard, London W1, in 1901 to assemble motors from components imported from Sweden. Four years later the factory moved to Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow, to manufacture electric motors up to 200 hp in particular. Then around 1910 the company reorganised itself as a limited liability company with the name ASEA Electric Ltd and in 1915 a new factory was built in Fulbourne Road, Walthamstow.

At the back of Alf Schaanning’s notebook, there are many pages devoted to ASEA Electric’s Walthamstow factory, its layout, and its equipment. The image below shows one double-page entry on the cranes and crane layout at the factory which also shows a diagram of the factory in relation to Fulbourne Road.


The Alf Schaanning technical notebook has been catalogued as collection SC MSS 277 and is available to consult at the IET Archive Centre, Savoy Hill House, by appointment.