Walker, Charles Vincent (DNB00)

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WALKER, CHARLES VINCENT (1812–1882), electrical engineer, born in 1812, was educated as an engineer. As early as 1838 he recognised the importance of the study of the science of electricity, and took an active part in the newly formed London Electrical Society, of which he was appointed secretary in 1843. He first acquired a reputation in 1841 by completing the second volume and editing the entire manuscript of Dionysius Lardner's ‘Manual of Electricity, Magnetism, and Meteorology,’ which formed part of his Cabinet Cyclopædia. From 1845 to 1846 he acted as editor of the ‘Electric Magazine,’ and in 1845 he was appointed electrician to the South-Eastern Railway Company, a post which he held till his death. During his connection with the company he introduced many improvements in the railway system, among others an apparatus to enable passengers to communicate with the guard, for which he took out a patent (No. 347) on 5 Feb. 1866; and a ‘train describer,’ for indicating trains on a distant dial, patented on 24 March 1876 (No. 1026).

Walker also interested himself in submarine telegraphy, and on 13 Oct. 1848 sent the first submarine message from a ship two miles off Folkestone to London Bridge, the shore end of the cable being connected with a land line. In 1849 he assisted James Glaisher and George Biddell Airy, the astronomer royal, to introduce a system of time signals, which were transmitted from the royal observatory at Greenwich to various local centres by means of telegraph wires, an improvement of considerable benefit to commerce and navigation (Nature, xiv. 50, 110). On 7 June 1855 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society; on 8 Jan. 1858 a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society; in 1876 he filled the office of president of the Society of Telegraph Engineers and of Electricians; and in 1869 and 1870 he was president of the Meteorological Society, of which he had been elected a member on 4 June 1850. Walker died at his residence at Tunbridge Wells on 24 Dec. 1882.

He was the author of: 1. ‘Electrotype Manipulation,’ 2 parts, London, 1841, 8vo; pt. i. 24th edit. 1850; pt. ii. 12th edit. 1849. 2. ‘Electric Telegraph Manipulation,’ London, 1850, 8vo. These works were translated into French and German. He edited Jeremiah Joyce's ‘Scientific Dialogues’ (London, 1846, 8vo), and translated Ludwig Friedrich Kaemtz's ‘Complete Course of Meteorology’ (London, 1845, 12mo), and Auguste de La Rive's ‘Treatise on Electricity’ (London, 1853–8, 3 vols. 8vo).

[Telegraph Journal and Electrical Review 1883, xii 16; Monthly Notices of the Royal Astron. Soc. 1882–3, xliii. 182; Engineering, 1883xxxv. 18; Quarterly Journal of the Meteorological Soc. 1883 ix. 99; Journal of Soc. of Telegraph Engineers, 1883, xii. 1.]

E. I. C.