Belling, Charles Reginald

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b. 11 May 1884 Bodmin, Cornwall, England
d. 8 February 1965 while on a cruise
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English electrical engineer best known as the pioneer of the wire-wound clay-former heating element which made possible the efficient domestic electric fire.
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Belling was educated at Burts Grammar School in Lostwithiel, Cornwall, and at Crossley Schools in Halifax, Yorkshire. In 1903 he was apprenticed to Crompton \& Co. at Chelmsford in Essex, the firm that in 1894 offered for sale the earliest electric heaters. These electric radiant panels were intended as heating radiators or cooking hotplates, but were not very successful because, being cast-iron panels into which heating wires had been embedded in enamel, they tended to fracture due to the different rates of thermal expansion of the iron and the enamel. Other designs of electric heaters followed, notably the introduction of large, sausage-shaped carbon filament bulbs fitted into a fire frame and backed by reflectors. This was the idea of H. Dowsing, a collaborator of Crompton, in 1904.
After qualifying in 1906, Belling left Crompton \& Co. and went to work for Ediswan at Ponders End in Hertfordshire. He left in 1912 to set up his own business, which he began in a small shed in Enfield. With a small staff and capital of £450, he took out his first patent for his wire-wound-former electric fire in the same year. The resistance wire, made from nickel-chrome alloy such as that patented in 1906 by A.L. Marsh, was coiled round a clay former. Six such bars were attached to a cast-iron frame with heating control knobs, and the device was marketed as the Standard Belling Fire. Advertised in 1912, the fire was an immediate success and was followed by many other variations. Improvements to the first model included wire safety guards, enamel finishes and a frame ornamented with copper and brass.
Belling turned his attention to hotplates, cookers, immersion heaters, electric irons, water urns and kettles, producing the Modernette Cooker (1919), the multi-parabola fire bar (1921), the plate and dish warmer (1924), the storage heater (1926) and the famous Baby Belling cookers, the first of which appeared in 1929. By 1955 business had developed so well that Belling opened another factory at Burnley, Lancashire. He partly underwrote, for the amount of £1 million, a proposed scientific technical college for the electrical industry at Enfield.
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Further Reading
1985, Dictionary of Business Biography, Butterworth.
G.Jukes, 1963, The Story of Belling, Belling and Co. Ltd (produced by the company in its Golden Jubilee year).
DY

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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