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Tyne and Wear HER(11247): Shieldfield, Portland Road, J.H. Holmes' Works - Details

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Shieldfield, Portland Road, J.H. Holmes' Works




Light Engineering Works

Electrical Engineering Works

Early Modern


Documentary Evidence

John Holmes was born in Newcastle in 1857, son of William Holmes, glass merchant and Quaker. John attended a Quaker School in York, then Durham School of Science and Newcastle University. He became an apprentice at an engineering company in Stockton. In 1883 he established J.H. Holmes Electrical Engineering Company at No. 67 Westgate Road. In 1884 he patented the Quick Break Switch, the forerunner of the spring loaded light switch. He also made dynamos, motors, arc lights and light fittings. The SS Nonpareil was the first Tyne-built ship to be fitted with electric lighting. The 1887 Newcastle Exhibition was the first large public exhibition to be lit with electricity - all thanks to Holmes' use of electricity in domestic and civic appliances. By 1886 the company had moved to a larger building in Portland Street. By 1907 Holmes had installed electric power and lighting into 275 collieries, shipyards and railways, dockyards and quarries, 293 newspaper offices and paper mills, 811 steam ships and yachts and 148 textile mills. He also designed portable lighting for ships sailing through the Suez Canal at night. In 1928 Holmes' company was absorbed by Reyrolle Limited and moved to Hebburn.




Newcastle upon Tyne Planning Division Development Department, "Ouseburn Heritage", volume 1, page 32; Alan Morgan, 1995, Bygone Shieldfield

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