S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Woodworth, Mr Leon Byron (electrical engineering)

Born: 4 March 1874, Arcade, New York, United States of America.
Died: 29 May 1942, Durban, South Africa.

Leon Byron Woodworth, electrical and mechanical engineer, was educated in Buffalo, New York, and continued his studies at a college in Buffalo and at the University of Rochester. In 1893 he completed a six month apprenticeship with General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York, and joined the Buffalo Electric Transit Company in 1894 as construction superintendent. The next year he resigned and came to South Africa, where he joined Hubert Davies and Company as construction engineer. In 1898 he became assistant mechanical engineer and chief electrical engineer for the New Heriot Gold Mining Company in Johannesburg. During the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902) he served with the British forces in the Royal Engineers with the rank of lieutenant. After the war he returned to his former position until 1908. The next year he became assistant to the consultant mechanical and electrical engineer for H. Eckstein and Company, Johannesburg. He remained there when the company became the Central Investment and Mining Corporation, becoming sectional engineer in the electrical and mechanical department in 1923 and consulting engineer from 1939 until his retirement in 1941. During these years he also did research at the Rand Mines Mechanical Laboratory in Johannesburg and served as engineering consultant for various mining and industrial plants.

Woodworth was a member of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers and served as its president for 1921/2. His research dealt mainly with electric and magnetic methods of ore separation, a topic on which he contributed several papers to the Institute's Transactions (1911, 1921, 1928), including his presidential address (1921). He and Samuel T. Tregaskis were furthermore granted a United States patent in 1924 for an improved magnetic separator. Other publications by Woodworth in the same journal included 'Notes on three-phase winding equipment' (1913), and 'The camera as an aid in electrical and mechanical engineering' (1929). Among others he was granted United States patents for an 'Isolating plugging-in box for electric power cables' (1931), a 'Junction box system for electric power cable installations' (1932), and an 'Electric detonator' (1940).

Woodworth was a member of the (British) Institution of Electrical Engineers, the American Institute of Electrical Engineers, and the Certificated Engineers of the Union of South Africa. He represented the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers on the Joint Committee of Technical Societies, established in 1919, and in February 1922 was elected joint vice-president of the resulting Associated Scientific and Technical Societies of South Africa.

Woodworth was married to Edith Annie Humphrey, with whom he had three children, but they were divorced in 1917. He was survived by his second wife, Gladys Mary Hollins, whom he married in June 1920.

List of sources:

Google patent search. http://www.google.co.za/?tbm=pts&ws_rd=cr,ssl&ei=GmvVZvFMMq17Abii42wAw Search for Leon Byron Woodworth.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm

Obituary: Leon Byron Woodworth. IEEE Xplore. http://ieeexplore.ieee.org/stamp/stamp.jst?arnumber=6436556

Orr, J. Presidential address. Associated Scientific and Technical Societies of South Africa, Annual Proceedings, 1938, pp. 15-86.

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

South African who's who, 1936, 1939.

Compiled by: C. Plug