Lighting & Electrical
Hall of Fame

Joseph Wilson Swan   1828 - 1914

Born in Sunderland, Swan was a physicist and inventor, and a manufacturing chemist by profession. He originated a method of dry plate photography and attempted to produce light by electricity. He began by using thin strips of carbonised paper within an evacuated bulb (1848) and after many experiments had an electric light with a carbon filament (1860), some twenty years in advance of Edison. However, he was unable to keep it working. Eventually the techniques for producing a vacuum improved and Swan in England and Edison in the USA produced a practical incandescent bulb at about the same time (1879).
Swan lamps quickly gained popularity and were used in the House of Commons and the Savoy Theatre (1881). After various legal disputes, Swan and Edison settled their differences out of court and formed a joint UK company (1883), the Edison & Swan United Electric Light Co Ltd, to exploit their invention.

              Henry  Lea   1839 - 1912

Lea was an engineer of remarkable talent whose  expertise ranged widely over the civil, mechanical  and electrical disciplines. He opened an office in Birmingham(1862) and issued a circular letter,  "Henry Lea begs leave respectfully to announce that  by the advice of many gentlemen well acquainted with his qualifications and experience, he has commenced practice as a Consulting Mechanical Engineer". He may have been the first in the field to describe himself thus.

Lea was a pioneer of electric lighting: Birmingham Town Hall (1882), the Prince of Wales Theatre  (1885), Theatre Royal (1886), and Victoria Law  Courts (1867). He pioneered new methods of  artificial ventilation based on the plenum system of  Wm Key (Glasgow Infirmary, 1889), using it with  notable success at Birmingham General Hospital  (1893). But his scheme at the Royal Victoria  Hospital, Belfast (1903) has been acclaimed as one  of the most significant installations in the development  of environmental engineering.

     William  Murdock       1754 - 1839



AUGUST  2002