The image above shows Godfrey Hector Wire in 1930. Godfrey was an electrical engineer who spent most of his working career in Glasgow and was a member of the Institution of Electrical Engineers (IEE).

We have just received a donation of some of Godfrey’s papers, from his daughter Morag Wire, from the time when he was Honorary Secretary of the IEE’s Scottish Centre Student’s Section in the late 1930s. In addition to her generous donation, Morag has very kindly written a guest blog for the IET Archives about her father’s history and working life and that blog appears below. The papers have been catalogued with an archive reference IET/CEN/19/6/1 and can be consulted at the IET Archive Centre by appointment.

Godfrey Hector Wire, by Morag Wire (May 2017)

In July 1930, when Godfrey Hector Wire (GHW) left Ilkley Grammar School at the age of 17, he was recommended by a family acquaintance to pursue his intended career in electrical engineering by entering into a part-work, part-study arrangement with Craigpark Electric Cable Co in Flemington Street, Springburn, Glasgow. There was no apprenticeship scheme in operation within the engineering industry at that time, so this arrangement allowed GHW to learn the business by spending 6 months over the summer at the Craigpark works, and the rest of the year studying at the Royal Technical College in George Street, Glasgow.

[Image on the left below shows the Craigpark works in Flemington St, Glasgow and the image on the right shows the Royal Technical College, Glasgow, 1909]Blog 152 - Image 02 to 03 combined

He went on to do post-diploma studies at the college and, according to his certificate, was made an Associate of the Royal Technical College on 9 Oct 1935, having already been awarded a diploma and having performed the required exercises.

Joining the IEE as a student

Around 1935, GHW joined the Scottish Students’ Section of the Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEE), set up for students and graduates under the age of 28. He would have been about 22 years old at that time.

As Section Editor in 1935, he reported on the Scottish Section’s activities in the Students Quarterly Journal in the September issue of that year. He wrote about the successful golf match on 25 Jun between IEE students, including himself, and the Students’ Section of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers when they played a round of the “royal and ancient game” at Bonnyton Moor, Eaglesham.

For the March 1937 issue, now Honorary Secretary to the Committee, he reported on another, less successful, golf match held the previous summer between the IEE and the Institution of Civil Engineers, resulting in a clear victory to the “Civils”. The grainy image below shows the IEE golf team with GHW on the left.

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He illustrated his description of a “problems evening” held in Edinburgh the previous December with the cartoon below – attendance at the meeting had broken all records with a count of one and this was the Chairman himself!

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He also reported on the main social event of the session, a dance held in Edinburgh at the Palais de Dance for East of Scotland members in Nov 1936, which proved to be a great success. Perhaps it was this event that prompted him to buy a self-help book on how to dance (from the Tit-Bits series founded by Sir George Newnes in 1881):

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As Honorary Secretary, GHW had a badge to wear at meetings, and his name appeared on the IEE stationery he used:

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Graduate Member of the IEE

GHW became a graduate member in 1936. In January of the following year GHW started work with another Glasgow engineering company, James Kilpatrick & Son, doing research into neon lighting:

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The IEE asked GHW to complete his membership status and the exact details of his work experience on a membership card for the publication of a list of its members issued in Sep 1939. The record card was subsequently returned to him in an envelope labelled “National Service”, with a date stamp of 14 Apr 1939. The reference to “National Service” seems to be unrelated to registration for conscription which was set up later in the same year, but may have had something to do with establishing a national radio service which the IEE was involved in.

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Membership of the IEE was important to GHW, so he kept up his subscription payments throughout the war as these receipts confirm (the receipts from left to right below are from 1943, 1944 and 1945).

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Associate Member of the IEE

After the war GHW applied for associate membership. In 1948 he approached his old college professor and one of the directors of his last company to provide references, which they were pleased to do (the letter on the left is from Professor P Parker Smith, RTC, and the letter on the right is from W R Scott, ex-Director, James Kilpatrick & Son):

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He was granted associate membership in 1949 and his certificate shows his admission date of 15 January 1949. It was witnessed on 3 March 1949 by T G N Haldane, President; R O Ackerley, Member of Council; and W K Brasher, Secretary. Graeme Haldane was a Scottish engineer who was instrumental in setting up the National Grid. Richard O Ackerley had previously been President of the Illuminating Engineering Society (1942). William Kenneth Brasher was Secretary from 1939 to 1962.


GHW continued his career as an electrical engineer with the GEC subsidiary, Claude-General Neon Lights, following their takeover of the neon department of James Kilpatrick & Son in 1939. He was transferred to their Wembley works in London just before the outbreak of WWII.  After the war he was involved in various projects which included the provision of Geiger counters to the MOD, the lining of the procession route with ceremonial lamps for the Queen’s coronation in 1953, and the creation in 1954 of the famous Coca-Cola sign in Piccadilly. He retired in 1973 and died in 1983.