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LANCASTER, Mr. J. G., (1883 - 1950)

J.G Lancaster

J. G. Lancaster (1883-1950). IPENZ, Past Presidents Album, 1914-1966

The death occurred yesterday at his home in Seatoun of Mr. J. G. Lancaster, M.Sc., B.E.. one ot the best-known electrical engineers In New Zealand. During the last 30 years he had taken a leading part in the development of electric power and lighting in the Dominion.

Mr. Lancaster was born in Christchurch in December 1883. He received his primary education at Sydenham School, whence an Education Board scholarship took him in 1895 to Christchurch Boys' High School, where he gained distinction as one of its most brilliant scholars. At Canterbury University College, which he entered in 1900 as the holder of a Junior University Scholarship, and, subsequently, of a Senior University Scholarship, he had a distinguished career. He graduated in 1904 as Master of Science with double first-class honours in mathematics and chemistry, rivalling the academic record or his eider brother the late Mr. G. J. Lancaster, who was headmaster of Christchurch Boys' High School from 1921 to 1944. Subsequent he graduated as Bachelor of Engineering under the late Professor R J Scott.

After a brief period as an assistant master in mathematics at Otago Boys High School he worked his passage to England in 1907 in the engine-room of a steamer. He then crossed to the United States and gained practical experience in electrical engineering in the Pittsburg and other works of the Westinghouse Electrical Company. Subsequently, he served in the New South Wales Public Works Department under the late Dr J Bradfield (designer of the Sydney Harbour Bridge) and worked out a complete scheme for the electrification of the Sydney metropolitan railways. For a few years he was associated in electrical engineering with the late Sir George Julius, of Sydney.

Returning to New Zealand in 1920 Mr. Lancaster entered into partnership with Mr. F. C. Hay and Mr. Hugh Vickerman in the firm of consulting engineers, now Vickerman and Lancaster, of which he remained a partner until his death. Specialising on the electrical side, he and his firm have been responsible for many installations for electric power boards and other electrical supply authorities,. As well as for municipalities, hospital boards, and large industrial companies in many parts of New Zealand. He was a member of the New Zealand Institution of Engineers, of which he was president in 1943-44, an associate member at the New Zealand Institution of Civil Engineers, and a member of the United States Institution of Electrical Engineers. He also held a number of honorary professional appointments.

In his youth Mr. Lancaster was an enthusiastic yachtsman, most of his sailing being with the .late Professor R. J. Scott. He was a member of Whetu-karangi Masonic Lodge, Seatoun. He married' a daughter of the late Mr. S. Hardey, of Christchurch, and is survived by his widow, two sons. Mr R. J: Lancaster and Mr. J. E. Lancaster. both of Hamilton, and a daughter, Mrs. J. A. Evans. of Wellington.

Extract from Evening Post, 12 October 1950.

Refer also to:

  • Obituary, New Zealand Engineering, November 1950, p 1033
  • Proceedings of NZIE, 1951, Vol. XXXVII, p 451.