W. B. Sayers

Consulting engineer and electrician

William Brooks Sayers (1861–1929) was a Middlesex-born electrician and consulting electrical engineer. Before moving to Glasgow in the early 1890s, he spent time in Birmingham, where he patented automatic electrical switches in 1884, and in Portugal, where his daughter was born in 1888. By 1890, he was living in Putney, where he patented improvements to electric incandescent lamps, and within a year was living in affluent Bearsden and commuting to Glasgow. 1 Sayers's brothers were also electrical engineers–Josiah developed 'a power-driven brick-cutting table' for the Derby brickmaking industry.

Sayers appears in the Glasgow Post Office directories from 1896 as a consulting engineer and was a member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers (I.E.E.), whose Glasgow branch was chaired by William Thomson, Lord Kelvin. From 1897, his brother, James E. Sayers, also appears in the Glasgow directories, following the same profession. 2 William Sayers delivered papers to various learned bodies, including the I.E.E. in 1893 as an expert on electric motors, and patented a motor armature in 1894. He advised on Dunfermline's town lighting in 1904. 3 In 1904, having worked together on improved power turbines, the brothers sold their interest to the Sayers Turbine Company. 4 The following year their partnership was terminated and it was noted that William 'for the future [will] devote himself to patents, developing and exploitation and machine designing work'. 5 William appears to have left Glasgow around 1913, and by the 1920s was living in London. 6

James formed Sayers & Caldwell (dissolved in 1920) to continue his consulting work, eventually becoming Secretary and Chairman of the Scottish I.E.E.. 7


1: Birth, marriage, death and census information, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 22 August 2012]; Birmingham Daily Post, 1 January 1886, p. 5; 'Provisional Patents, No. 4405', March 1890, p. 260; 'Provisional Patents, No. 5996', April 1890, p. 358; 'Provisional Patents No. 7473', May 1890, p. 418, Electrical Engineer: A Weekly Journal, vol. 5 (new series), January–June 1890; Glasgow Post Office directories, 1890–1925.

2: Glasgow Post Office directories, 1890–1925; Glasgow Herald, 16 November 1900, p. 6.

3: Daily News, 11 May 1893, p. 10; Scotsman, 4 September 1901, p. 8; 23 December 1904, p. 9.

4: Scotsman, 18 June 1904, p. 5.

5: Edinburgh Gazette, 6 June 1905, p. 564.

6: Glasgow Post Office directories, 1890–1925; electoral register information, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 22 August 2012].

7: Edinburgh Gazette, 28 September 1920, p. 2111. Scotsman, 12 December 1913, p. 10; Scotsman, (called James 'W.' Sayers here), 9 March 1921, p. 8.