Frederick Simmons Grogan

Frederick Simmons Grogan was born at Chatham, Kent in 1875, to parents Samuel and Agnes Jane Simmons. Frederick’s father, for many years the London correspondent for the Belfast News Letter, was born in Rathmullan, County Down, Ireland and his mother in Chatham where they married in 1873. Frederick had at least three siblings[1] – Florence M., Herbert S and Charles E. The family appears to have moved around as one of his siblings was born in Reading, Berkshire and the other two in Herne Hill, Surrey.

According to his obituary that appeared in the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Frederick Grogan: –

“…received his practical and technical training at the Central Technical College, South Kensington. For a few months he worked as a mechanic with the General Electric Co. at their Peel Works in Manchester before transferring to the Belfast Electricity Works, where for one year he was an improver on generating shift, duty, works costs, testing, mains and general work. He was then appointed Assistant Engineer on a 10000-h.p. extension for lighting, tramways and mains installation. His next two appointments were with the British Thomson-Houston Co., as an engineer on their outside construction staff and with the British Electric Equipment Co., as Engineer and Manager at their head office in London. In 1907 he became Deputy Manager and Secretary to the Berry Construction Co., where began his connection with the manufacture of heating and cooking appliances, of which he gained an extensive knowledge. He was one of the pioneers in this branch of the electrical industry, and for several years he lectured to the public and demonstrated the Tricity apparatus, becoming very well known to a wide and appreciative public. His friends knew him as “Tricity” Grogan. Possessed of a bright and cheerful disposition, he was an outstanding personality, very fond of a breezy discussion”.

There are numerous reports of Frederick Grogan giving lectures and demonstrations, across the country promoting the use of electricity for both heating and cooking. In September 1911 he was in Dover[2], supporting the Town Council:

COOKING BY ELECTRICITY.
INTERESTING DEMONSTRATIONS AT THE TOWN HALL.

Organised by the Electricity Committee of the Dover Town Council, with the object of bringing before the inhabitants of the town the advantages of cooking by electricity, an interesting series of practical demonstrations of the “Tricity” cooker was opened at the Town Hall on Tuesday afternoon. Admission was by invitation to the opening demonstration at 5 o’clock, and a good number of residents, chiefly ladies, to whom the subject naturally is more interesting, and several members of the Corporation, were present.

The demonstrations are conducted by Mr. Frederick Grogan, A.M.I.C.E., A.M.I.E.E., of the Berry Construction Company, Limited, Charing Cross House, W.C., who are the manufacturers of the “Tricity” cooker, and from whom the Corporation recently bought the apparatus for experimental purposes. Mr. Grogan, besides being a fluent speaker, demonstrates the practicability of the cooker by actual cooking operations, which after all is the truest and most convincing test. The relative cost of using the cooker will be one of the first questions to be asked, and the manufacturers claim that where gas costs 1d. per unit the actual cost of cooking is quite equal, and that with electricity at 1d. or even lid. a unit the cost is considerably lower than cooking with coal. In Dover gas is 2s. 11d. per thousand cubic feet, and electricity for cooking and heating purposes 1¼ d. a unit, and Mr. Grogan claims that the cost of cooking locally with the “Tricity” cooker, is no more expensive than with gas ovens. An important point is that joints when cooked by electricity undergo considerably less shrinkage than in ordinary roasting, so that a saving is effected in this direction. The cost of heating the oven for a 10lb. joint of beef would be 3d. in Dover, while the loss of cooking is 1lb., compared with 2½ to 3 1-3rd lbs. with the other method. As to the apparatus itself the heat is obtained by means of a cast iron circular plate heated by the electric current, which can be regulated to “high” heat for fast sunk and “low” for slow cooking. The various utensils which have no special construction beyond an absolutely flat bottom, fit on the top of the hot-plate, and having no wire connections to burn out they are as cheap to buy as any other kitchen ware. The “Tricity” grill is a unique feature of the outfit, and is a striking example of the value of a brightly polished surface for storing heat. It is demonstrated that while the grill is at full working heat there is practically no radiant heat given off to make the air close, and the same remarks apply to the flat iron and the cooking oven, which lose no heat by radiation. The manufacturers claim the superiority of the ‘Tricity” cooker over existing methods on the grounds of absolute cleanliness, economy, health and greater perfection in cooling.

Public demonstrations were given on Tuesday evening, on Wednesday at 3 and 8, and on Thursday at 11 a.m. and 8. The concluding demonstrations will be held to-day at 5 and 8.

In November 1912[3] he was lecturing and demonstrating at the Victoria Rooms, Taunton, Somerset; the following week he was in the Council House, Heston-Iselworth; at the end of the month he in garden suburb of Hampstead undertaking a week-long series of demonstrations in the showrooms of the General Builders, Ltd., housed in one of the news shops built by the Hampstead Tenants.

In early 1913 it was reported[4] that Frederick Grogan was involved in setting up the first “electic restaurant” in London:

THE TRICITY HOUSE

It is with considerable pleasure that we record the inauguration of the first public restaurant in London In which the whole of the cooking, as well as the lighting and heating, is done by electricity. We say “first” advisedly, for we are sure it will not be the last ; and we feel that this younger branch of the industry is greatly indebted to the enterprise of Messrs. Modern Kitchens, Ltd., who have adopted this effective method of bringing home to the general public the advantages and capabilities of electricity in its domestic applications. As our readers are aware, the promoters of this new venture have been indefatigable in demonstrating the merits of electric cooking, and of the “Tricity” cooking appliances in particular, both in London and in the Provinces, and their expert demonstrator, Mr. F. S. Grogan, who combines with a thorough training in electrical engineering a remarkable aptitude for the culinary art, and a natural gift of lucid exposition, has earned a well-merited reputation as an electrical chef throughout the country. In more than a score of towns, we understand, the “Tricity” cookers can now be obtained on hire from the supply authorities, and electricity for cooking can be had for Id. a unit, or even less, in over 50 districts. A campaign has now been opened in the Metropolis, which has not yet been generally enlightened upon the subject of electric cooking, and we wish it all success.

The new restaurant is situated at 48, Oxford Street[5], between Tottenham Court Road and Oxford Circus, and is marked by an electric sign, which is visible as far as the Circus. The equipment comprises ovens, grills and boiling hot-plates capable of dealing with the whole of the cooking, but occupying a remarkably small space—only 15 x 12 ft. — which implies a very considerable saving in rent as compared with the older systems of cooking. Beginning in a modest way, at present only luncheons and teas are served, but later on it is intended to provide dinners and suppers. Meals are served on three floors, which are tastefully decorated in various styles and comfortably furnished. Each floor is in communication with the kitchen (which is on the top floor) by a service lift, and on each floor there is a service counter, provided with electric cookers for making tea, coffee, toast, &c., the kitchen being reserved for the heavier work. A considerable amount of the cooking is thus performed in view of the customers, who are thereby enabled to observe the perfect cleanliness of the system and the absence of unpleasant fumes and odours.

The employment of so many appliances in the restaurant rendered it advisable to install indicators to show when each cooker was on high or low heat, or off. The indicator measures 12 x 3 in., and projects about 4 in. from the wall. A plug socket is attached horizontally to the projecting base, and on the front are mounted a fuse, main switch, and indicating lamp. The lamp is connected in parallel with a compound resistance element, which is in series with the main current, and consists of a spiral of wire ending in two clips, between which a small stick of carbon is connected; when the full current is on, the carbon heats and its resistance falls, while with the low current the resistance of the carbon is greater. The result is that the lamp glows on either heat, but its brilliancy is so varied that the cook can tell at a glance which heat is in use.

All is now ready; we need only recall the well-worn adage about the proof of the pudding, and recommend our readers to go and try it for themselves—and send their doubting clients also.

In August 1913[6], he was giving a series of demonstrations and lectures in the Moor Hall, Farnworth, nine miles north-west of Manchester; in October, he was a Pontypridd, followed by Llanelli, under the auspices of the Llanelli and District Electric Light and Traction Co., Ltd; the following month he was in Wimbledon giving week long series of twice daily lectures and demonstrations. A couple of weeks later there was a series of demonstrations in Newcastle-under-Lyme. In late November, he gave another series of lectures and demonstration, this time at Gregg’s Café in Tynemouth, Tyne and Wear, on behalf of the Corporation’s electricity department.

Frederick Grogan also contributed a chapter on Electric Heating and Cooking in the 1914 edition of The Practical Electrician’s Pocket-Book, 1914 (London: S. Rentell & Co).

How or why Messenger’s and Frederick Grogan should team up would appear at first sight to be a mystery. There is no obvious synergy between any of Messenger’s product lines and the manufacturer of electric stoves and fires. However, it appears that Walter Chapman had held on long-term interest in electricity. When opening a 6-day electrical exhibition at the Town Hall in September 1907[7] he declared that:

“…he had taken a good deal of interest in the subject of electricity from his boyhood, but it was a very different affair then to nowadays. Then it was chiefly pictorial or statistical electricity, and lighting and heating were simply an unknown quantity. There was no such thing as a dynamo, and although lamps were invented, the only way to use an arc lamp was by using a primary battery, and there the question of expense came in. Now that the dynamo has been invented and improved it was simply a question of providing the power, and electricity as supplied could compare very favourably with any other power, and that exhibition would show the advantages of electricity and the different means and purposes for which it could be applied. But the chief thing was to provide the current at the cheapest rate, for people would not use it unless it was cheaper than any other method. Of course, therefore, the engineers tried all they could to produce the current in the cheapest possible form, and when that was done the light was superior to any other. He had used light the last three years, and could assure them, that the cost was about the same, whilst they saved in the cleanliness of the rooms and extra purity of the air. In England we had not the same natural advantages of producing power as in some countries. America, for instance, where the great fall of Niagara had been harnessed for the production of electricity. Here it was a question of coal, and the questions was whether it was more economical to bring the fuel to the place where the electricity was required, or generate the energy at the pit mouth and then distribute it. That, however,, they might safely leave to the engineers. A source of power which might in the future be utilised was the action of the tides, and whoever, devised some scheme for utilising this great power would be a benefactor to the human race. He had pleasure in declaring the exhibition open, an exhibition of interest to all burgesses in the town”.

However, it might have been Walter Chapman’s eldest son, Eric Walter Gifford Burder, who may have been responsible. He was a keen member of Loughborough’s Electricity Committee[8]. In an almost contemporary report[9] of the start of the Company it states that Eric Burder had “an engineering works and foundry at his disposal” and “appreciated the great progress that electric heating and cooking was making”. How and when, or even, if, he had met Frederick Grogan is not revealed; however, it goes on to state that “he (Frederick Grogan) had patents pending, and possessed an exceptionally complete knowledge of what the public required, and their experience and resources were combined with the intention of providing, direct from the foundry, solidly built and reliable apparatus for heating and cooking at popular prices”. This knowledge was no doubt gained by the many lectures and demonstrates he gave across the country during the previous few years.

One such opportunity for the two to meet was in late 1914 or early 1915. Frederick Grogan had just completed an impressive installation of heating equipment supplied by his employers, The British Electrical Transformer Co., Ltd., at the Whitehall Café in St. James’s Street, Derby. The design had been completed in conjunction with manageress of the Cafe, Mrs. A. Esheridge. According to reports[10] the set-up was extremely impressive and would no doubt have caused significant local attention for those with such an interest.

An Electric Kitchen in Derby.

The accompanying illustration shows the electric kitchen of the Whitehall Cafe, St. James’s Street, Derby, which has recently been equipped under the direction of Mr. T H. Thorpe, Derby, the architect for this imposing building and the Kinema Hall adjoining the Cafe.

The electrical equipment, which was all supplied by the British Electric Transformer Co., Ltd., London, at present comprises 31 standard “Tricity” hot-plates, all of which are operated from indicating control panels, with separate “on and off” switch and fuse, the hot-plates being interchangeable; 15 are for boiling purposes, and the remainder for operating two double ovens and four single ovens. There are, in addition, two 24in. x 12in. 6-KW. radiant grills, and a carving table 5ft. x 2ft. 3in. x 2ft. 10in. high with hot cupboard, and two carving dishes with a maximum loading of 7 KW.

The general arrangement was set out by Mr. F. S. Grogan, of the British Electric Transformer C E., Ltd., in conjunction with the manageress of the Cafe, Mrs. A. Etheridge.

In the view at the far end will be noticed the meat grill, and on the table on the left are shown 12 boiling plates together with two single ovens opposite the chef’s table. On the adjoining table two double ovens and two single ovens are grouped, for the use of the patissier who makes the whole of the cakes, rolls and pastries for the restaurant, and also for the shop attached to the Cafe. At the far end of the kitchen on the right are the washing-up sinks.

The second grill, which adjoins the ovens, is retained for toasting work. On the opposite side of the kitchen are four hotplates, with water urns, and water-jacketed coffee and milk urns, these being immediately behind the tea dispatch counter. The carving table, which is in the centre of the kitchen, was installed here temporarily; but has since been removed to the restaurant.

The electrical arrangements have worked so satisfactorily that extensions are at the moment in hand for the equipment of the basement floor with four additional ovens and two more grills. It is hoped that this will be opened during the next week or two.

The business of the Cafe has during its first two months’ working far exceeded expectation”, and this result is undoubtedly due in a large degree to the appointment of Mrs. Etheridge, who has not only had West End experience, but was for a time associated with the “Tricity” House, London.

The Café is illuminated by indirect lighting, and its cosiness makes it an attractive rendezvous. The supply pressure is 230 volts, and the installation is balanced on the two sides of the three-wire system. There is also a duplicate service carried into the meter room, with a three-pole throw-over switch.

The Electrical Review, Volume 76, 26th February, 1915

Having set-up, the new Company, Frederick Grogan moved to Loughborough, residing at No. 143, Ashby Road for around the next thirty years before moving to Dunmore, No. 11, Pantain Road, Loughborough.

Nos. 139-145, Ashby Road, Loughborough

In early 1920 Frederick Grogan was invited to become chairman of the local East Midlands sub-centre of the Institute of Electrical Engineers, with meeting being held at Loughborough, Derby, Nottingham and Leicester[11].

On April 16th 1921[12] he married Miss Clara Kate Norrington in Loughborough.

Frederick Grogan died aged 72, at his home, ‘Dunmore’, No. 11, Pantain Road, Loughborough on 29th May 1947[13]. He had been ill for several weeks. His last public appearance was at an Institution of Electrical Engineers function held on the 7th March. He was survived by his widow, Clara, who died, aged 80, in 1961 and daughter, Daphne who married Edward Hall just prior to her father’s death.

DEATH OF MR. F. S. GROGAN
MANAGER OF ARORA COMPANY

We regret to announce the death, which took place yesterday at his home “Dunmore”, Pantain-road Loughboro’, of Mr. Frederick Simmons Grogan, A.M.I.C.E., M.I.E.E manager of the Arura Company Rosebery-street, a subsidiary of Messrs. Messenger and Co., Ltd.

Mr. Grogan had been ill for several weeks, but the end came suddenly. He was 72 years of age and came to Loughborough about 1916. In association with the late Mr. Eric Burder, he started and developed the Arora Company in the manufacture of whose electrical heating and cooking products he put the experience of a considerable amount of pioneer work. The Company moved to its Rosebery-street premises in 1920.

A man of great charm and likeable disposition, Mr. Grogan leaves a wife and one daughter.

The funeral service will take place at Emmanuel Church tomorrow (Saturday) at 10 a.m.

 

References:

  1. 1881 and 1891 Censuses.
  2. The Dover Express, 22nd September 1911.
  3. The Electrical Review, Volume 71, 1912.
  4. The Electrical Review, Volume 72, No. 1,834, 17th January 1913.
  5. A site now (2017) occupied by the coffee house chain Caffè Nero.
  6. The Electrical Review, Volume 73, 1913.
  7. The Loughborough Monitor & News, 12th September 1907
  8. The Electrical Review, Volume 78, 3rd March 1916.
  9. Ibid.
  10. The Electrical Review, Volume 76, 26th February, 1915.
  11. The Electrical Review, Volume 86, 6th February, 1920.
  12. The Electrical Review, Volume 88, 22nd April, 1921.
  13. The Loughborough Echo, 30th May 1947.