Winsor, Frederick Albert

SUBJECT AREA: Public utilities
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b. 1763 Brunswick, Germany
d. 11 May 1830 Paris, France
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German pioneer of gas lighting,
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He was born Frederic Albrecht Winzer but anglicized his name after settling in England. His interest in gas lighting was aroused by the experiments of Philippe Lebon in Paris in 1802. Winsor had little scientific knowledge or engineering ability, but was well endowed with confidence and enterprise. He alone among the early practitioners of gas-making envisaged a central plant supplying a number of users through gas mains. He managed to discover the essentials of Lebon's process and tried without success to exploit it on the European continent. So he moved to England in 1803 and settled first in Grosvenor Square and then in Pall Mall. He gave public demonstrations of gas lighting at the Lyceum Theatre in London and in 1804 took out his first patent. In December he lit Pall Mall, the first street to be illuminated by gas. Winsor then began to promote a grandiose scheme for the formation of a National Light and Heat Company. He struggled against bitter opposition both in and out of Parliament to obtain sanction for his company, and it was only after the third attempt that the Gas Light \& Coke Company received its charter in 1812. However, Winsor lacked the knowledge to devise successful gas-producing plant, even with the help of the German immigrant chemist F.C.Accum. Winsor was dismissed in 1812 and returned to Paris the following year, while the company recovered with the appointment of an able engineer, Samuel Clegg. Winsor formed a company in Paris to install gas lighting, but that failed in 1819.
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Further Reading
W.Matthew, 1827, An Historical Sketch of the Origin, Progress and Present State of Gaslighting, London.
E.G.Stewart, 1958, Town Gas, Its Manufacture and Distribution, London: Science Museum.
LRD

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

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