The IET archives has recently completed the cataloguing of a collection of papers belonging to Raymond Arthur W Connor, an electrical engineer who spent most of his working life at the Eastern Electricity Board. Connor is depicted in the image below (fourth from the left) at the 1959 dinner-dance of the East Anglian sub-centre of the Institution of Electrical Engineers.
Though a small collection, Connor’s papers contain a wide variety of materials and reveal a shift in his career from a concentration on power generation to electricity supply. The papers contain two albums of photographs from early in Connor’s career detailing the construction of large boilers by the Worcester Corporation at the end of the 1920s.
In the early 1930’s Connor worked in the electricity department of the Worcester Corporation. At some point he moved to work ‘at Battersea’, as recorded in his correspondence, and then on to Luton Electricity Undertaking. In 1948 he accepted a position at the Eastern Electricity Board’s headquarters to work in the design and planning of sub-stations and protective equipment. By 1961 he was assistant Chief Engineer at the EEB and he retired in the late 1960s.
A number of interesting technical reports included in the papers describe an experimental heating scheme trialled in council housing on the Leagrave House Estate, Luton in the mid-1940s. The reports include descriptions of the insulation of the houses, heat loss calculations, the value of thermal savings, and plans of the houses themselves.
Connor published and delivered papers on the combustion of coal in relation to power generation and copies of these articles, together with a number of glass slides used for their illustration, can be found amongst the papers. The various slides also include the example below produced by Luton Electricity Service to promote wartime energy efficiency.
Connor’s papers include research notes and articles concerning fuses and the phase-earth loop, one of his areas of particular interest. The image below depicts a piece of equipment used to simulate electrical faults from 1954.
Promoting a career in engineering
Connor became an Associate Member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers in 1937, and a Member in 1951. Following a change in membership categorisation in 1966, he became a Fellow of the IEE. Nominated a member of the Engineering Advisory Council of Ipswich Civic College by the IEE, Connor served on this Council until the college was re-organized as Suffolk College of Higher and Further Education, circa 1975. From 1975 onwards he was actively interested in the physics department of Felixstowe College for Girls (now closed) and was appointed their honorary engineering advisor, providing assistance with talks and demonstrations and arranging technical visits for the senior girls. He gifted most of his research equipment to the college for use by the students, hoping to encourage more young people to consider a career in engineering. Amongst his papers are drafts of challenges and experiments for students to work on.
One or two personal items amongst the papers include the watercolour sketch below of Felixstowe made in 1965, where Connor lived in his later years.
There are two particularly intriguing photographs below which pre-date much of the other material. Sadly the papers contain no indication as to the identity of the subjects.
The papers of R A W Connor have been catalogued with an archive reference NAEST 160. They form an interesting compliment to the papers of C T Melling with whom Connor worked at both Luton Electricity Undertaking and the EBB, and whose papers are also held in the IET archives (reference SC MSS 159). Both series of papers are available to consult by appointment at the IET Archive Centre, Savoy Hill House, London, and will be of particular interest to those interested in the changing nature of the electricity supply industry in the twentieth century.