S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Pickles, Mr Verney (electrical engineering)

Born: 20 October 1881, United Kingdom.
Died: 2 June 1951, Lidgetton, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

Verney Pickles, electrical engineer, grew up in Sowerby Bridge, Yorkshire. He received his engineering education at Halifax Technical College and Armstrong College, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and his practical training with Pollitt and Wigzell of Sowerby Bridge. In 1905 he joined the Newcastle-upon-Tyne Electric Supply Company as a junior engineer and during the next five years held various positions in the company's System Operation, Generation, and Research Departments. He came to South Africa in 1910 to take up an appointment as system control engineer with the Victoria Falls and Transvaal Power Company and subsequently served the company as station superintendent, system engineer, and deputy chief engineer. In 1937 he was promoted to chief engineer, a position he held until his retirement in 1948. During his years with the company it expanded from its original two power stations to one of the major power supply organisations in the world, with seven large power stations.

Pickles was an outstanding electrical and mechanical engineer and was mainly concerned with the design of the company's power stations, the electrical and mechanical layout of the generating system, and the adaptation of the steam-generating plant to low grade coal, but in later years was concerned also with the administration of the company. He delivered a number of papers before the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers, which were published in its Transactions. Among these were: 'Rosherville power station; a brief description of the plant' (1914), 'Notes on generating station reports' (1916), 'Turbine house plant operation, with special reference to the Rand Power Company plants' (with T.G. Otley, 1918), 'Notes on development in power station practice' (1928), and 'Klip generating station; a general description and some comments on operation' (with J.S. Trelease, 1940).

Pickles became a member of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers in 1911, served as president for 1926, and was elected an honorary member in 1948. During 1939-1940 he was president of the South African Institution of Engineers. He furthermore was awarded the gold medal of both these bodies. In 1923 he was elected a member of the (British) Institution of Electrical Engineers. He served on its Transvaal Committee from 1937 to 1951 (as chairman from 1944 to 1947), and from 1945 to 1947 was the overseas representative of the Institution's council in the Transvaal. He was married to Alice Isabel Clara Pickles, born Denny.

List of sources:

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS), at http://www.national.archives.org.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Verney Pickles.

Obituary Notices: Verney Pickles. IEEExplore, at http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jsp?arnumber=5320066

Obituary: Verney Pickles. Transactions of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers, June 1951, Vol. 42, p. 213.

South African Institute of Electrical Engineers. Index of SAIEE Transactions, 1909-2007. Electronic file received from SAIEE.

Compiled by: C. Plug