S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

Drummond, Mr Richard Oliver Gardner (electrical engineering)

Born: 6 January 1862, Manchester, England.
Died: 23 June 1898, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Richard Oliver Gardner Drummond, son of John D. Drummond and his wife Olivia, served a four year apprenticeship with Messrs Mather and Platt, Salford Iron Works, from 1879 to 1882. He came to South Africa in August 1882 at the age of twenty and lived in the Eastern Cape for a year. He first worked as a mechanical engineer on the Cape Government Railways and then as a draughtsman for Messrs Marshall and Co. in Port Elizabeth. He then moved to Kimberley as an engineer and electrician for the French Diamond Mining Company and became their managing electrician in 1887. In addition to installing electric lights in all their underground works he installed electric motors for pumping, hoisting, ventilating and other operations. During this same period he also became borough electrician for Kimberley, electrical engineer to the Kimberley Exhibition, and consulting engineer to the Bultfontein Mining Co. and to the Anglo-African Diamond Mining Co. Later he was appointed chief electrician of De Beers Consolidated Mines, a position he held for nearly four years. In 1893 he moved to the Witwatersrand and became consulting electrical engineer and head of the electrical department of the firm Reunert and Lenz, retaining this position to his death.

Drummond was a member of the (British) Institution of Electrical Engineers, as well as the Institution of Mining Engineers, and one of the leading men in his profession in South Africa. He joined the South African Association of Engineers and Architects soon after his arrival in Johannesburg and served as a member of its council from 1894 onwards. He was also a member of the South African Society of Electrical Engineers, founded in May 1897, and was elected vice-president just before his death.

In 1897 Sidney P. Blackmore, E.J. Way* and Drummond developed and patented the Bladray electrical rock drill. Blackmore was the principal inventor. This percussion drill was described by G.A. Denny* and E.J. Way in the Proceedings of the South African Association of Engineers and Architects later that year.

A genial and friendly person, Drummond suffered from a painful illness for some time. Both T. Reunert* and J.H. Davies* paid tribute to him at the annual meeting of the South African Association of Engineers and Architects on 29 June 1898. He was buried in Grahamstown, with Col. L.A. Eddie* as one of the pall-bearers, and was survived by his wife, Dorothy P. Drummond, born Armstrong, and five children.

List of sources:
Grahamstown Journal, 28 June 1898, p. 3, "Death of Mr. Drummond".

National Archives Repository (TAB), Source MHG, Vol. 0, Ref. 14803: death notice, Richard Oliver Gardner Drummond.

National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). http://www.national.archives.gov.za/naairs.htm Documents relating to Drummond, Richard Oliver Gardner / Drummond, Oliver.

Pask, T.P. An historical note of 1897. Transactions of the South African Institute of Electrical Engineers, 1930, Vol. 21(11), pp. 240-243, list of members.

Richard Oliver Gardner Drummond. In Grace’s Guide to British Industrial History. http://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Richard_Oliver_Gardner_Drummond as on 2016-9-1.

South African Association of Engineers and Architects. Proceedings, 1892-1894, Vol. 1, lists of office bearers; 1897-1898, Vol. 4, pp. 24-52, paper on the Bladray electric drill by Denny and Way; Ibid pp. 188-202, Sixth Annual General Meeting (see p. 200).

Compiled by: C. Plug