Merz, Charles Hesterman

Merz, Charles Hesterman
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b. 5 October 1874 Gateshead, England
d. 14 October 1940 London, England
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English engineer who pioneered large-scale integration of electricity-supply networks, which led to the inauguration of the British grid system.
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Merz was educated at Bootham School in York and Armstrong College in Newcastle. He served an apprenticeship with the Newcastle Electric Supply Company at their first power station, Pandon Dene, and part of his training was at Robey and Company of Lincoln, steam engine builders, and the British Thomson-Houston Company, electrical equipment manufacturers. After working at Bankside in London and at Croydon, he became Manager of the Croydon supply undertaking. In 1898 he went to Cork on behalf of BTH to build and manage a tramway and electricity company. It was there that he met William McLellan, who later joined him in establishing a firm of consulting engineers. Merz, with his vision of large-scale electricity supply, pioneered an integrated traction and electricity scheme in north-eastern England. He was involved in the reorganization of electricity schemes in many countries and established a reputation as a leading parliamentary witness. Merz was appointed Director of Experiments and Research at the Admiralty, where his main contribution was the creation of an organization of outstanding engineers and scientists during the First World War. In 1925 he was largely responsible for a report of the Weir Committee which led to the Electricity (Supply) Act of 1926, the formation of the Central Electricity Board and the construction of the National Grid. The choice of 132 kV as the original grid voltage was that of Merz and his associates, as was the origin of the term "grid". Merz and his firm produced many technical innovations, including the first power-system control room and Merz-Price and Merz-Hunter forms of cable and transformer protection.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Institution of Electrical Engineers Faraday Medal 1931.
Bibliography
1903–4, with W.McLennan, "Power station design", Journal of the Institution of Electrical Engineers 33:696–742 (a classic on its subject).
1929, "The national scheme of electricity supply in Great Britain", Proceedings of the British Association, Johannesburg.
Further Reading
J.Rowland, 1960, Progress in Power. The Contribution of Charles Merz and His Associates to Sixty Years of Electrical Development 1899–1959, London (the most detailed account).
L.Hannah, 1979, Electricity Before Nationalisation, London.
——, 1985, Dictionary of Business Biography, ed. J.Jeremy, London, pp. 221–7 (a short account).
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Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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