Arthur Stephens Herbert
(1881 - 1959)
Arthur Stephens Herbert was born in 1881 and educated at Merchant Taylors' School, which was at that time in Charterhouse Square, just across Smithfield Market from the Company premises at 6&7 West Smithfield.
After leaving school in 1898, Arthur attended Finsbury Technical College to study electrical engineering. He then joined the firm of Witting, Eborall & Co in London (subsumed into what is now ABB) and was posted to Charleroi in Belgium.
In 1906 he joined Kolben & Co, Prague, and was sent to Tasmania where he was responsible for the installation of Kolben equipment in the hydroelectric plant at the Duck Reach power station in Launceston. It was here that he met his future wife, Ethel Mary Ferguson, and they were married in London in 1907. Their first son John ‘Jack’ Ferguson Herbert was born in London in 1908.
Arthur then joined Siemens Bros, working for them in Berlin and Canada before returning to Australia in 1913. During WW1 he served in the part time Australian Reserve Force at a gun battery in Melbourne.
After the conflict, the assets of Siemens were expropriated and handed over to the newly formed English Electric Co, and Arthur was appointed General Manager in Australia.
During his stay in Australia he was closely associated with the formation of the Institution of Engineers (Australia).
The Depression of the 1930s saw large cutbacks in infrastructure work, so Arthur returned to the UK and in 1933 joined his brother Fitz at Herbert & Sons Ltd.
Initially, the brothers worked well together and the firm grew considerably, but the events of the war years placed a heavy strain on their relationship. Fitz was divorced, suffered a bad accident in the blackout, and his second son Peter was shot down on a reconnaissance mission shortly after D-Day, while Arthur’s eldest son Jack was captured in Singapore in 1942 and sent to work on the Burma/Siam railway.
Arthur's second son Jim joined the Company in 1946, but by then Arthur and Fitz were sometimes not on speaking terms. In 1952, the chairman Sir Edgar Sylvester eventually managed to persuade the warring brothers to retire on the same day.
Arthur retired to his home in Northwood, Middlesex, and died in 1959. His obituary from the Institution of Electrical Engineers can be read here.