Alexander Siemens
Alexander Siemens was a German
Germany , officially the Federal Republic of Germany , is a federal parliamentary republic in Europe. The country consists of 16 states while the capital and largest city is Berlin. Germany covers an area of 357,021 km2 and has a largely temperate seasonal climate...

 electrical engineer.

Siemens was born in Hanover
Hanover or Hannover, on the river Leine, is the capital of the federal state of Lower Saxony , Germany and was once by personal union the family seat of the Hanoverian Kings of Great Britain, under their title as the dukes of Brunswick-Lüneburg...

, then a kingdom within the German Confederation
German Confederation
The German Confederation was the loose association of Central European states created by the Congress of Vienna in 1815 to coordinate the economies of separate German-speaking countries. It acted as a buffer between the powerful states of Austria and Prussia...

, to Gustav and Sophie Siemens. His father was a judge and a cousin of William Siemens the famous electrical engineer. He was educated in Hanover and moved to Woolwich
Woolwich is a district in south London, England, located in the London Borough of Greenwich. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.Woolwich formed part of Kent until 1889 when the County of London was created...

, London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 in 1867 to work with at the Siemens Brothers
Siemens AG
Siemens AG is a German multinational conglomerate company headquartered in Munich, Germany. It is the largest Europe-based electronics and electrical engineering company....

 factory. He returned to the German Confederation in 1868 to study at the University of Berlin, interrupting his studies there to lay telegraph cables in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

. These cables were to form part of the Indo-European Telegraph and much of the work was undertaken by Siemens Brothers.

Upon the annexation of Hanover by Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 in 1866 following the Austro-Prussian War
Austro-Prussian War
The Austro-Prussian War was a war fought in 1866 between the German Confederation under the leadership of the Austrian Empire and its German allies on one side and the Kingdom of Prussia with its German allies and Italy on the...

 Siemens became a Prussian citizen and liable to conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

. He was conscripted in 1870 as a private to fight in the Franco-Prussian War
Franco-Prussian War
The Franco-Prussian War or Franco-German War, often referred to in France as the 1870 War was a conflict between the Second French Empire and the Kingdom of Prussia. Prussia was aided by the North German Confederation, of which it was a member, and the South German states of Baden, Württemberg and...

 where he was wounded at the Battle of Beaune-la-Rolande
Battle of Beaune-la-Rolande
The Battle of Beaune-la-Rolande on 28 November 1870 was a battle of the Franco-Prussian War, won by Prussia. In an attempt to relieve the Siege of Paris, French General Crouzat's XX Corps launched an attack against three Prussian brigades resting in Beaune-la-Rolande...

. It was for his actions in this battle where Prussian forces won a decisive victory over the numerically superior French army that he was awarded the Iron Cross
Iron Cross
The Iron Cross is a cross symbol typically in black with a white or silver outline that originated after 1219 when the Kingdom of Jerusalem granted the Teutonic Order the right to combine the Teutonic Black Cross placed above a silver Cross of Jerusalem....

. After demobilization in 1871 he returned to the family business in Woolwich and assisted with the building of furnaces for use in steel foundries
A foundry is a factory that produces metal castings. Metals are cast into shapes by melting them into a liquid, pouring the metal in a mold, and removing the mold material or casting after the metal has solidified as it cools. The most common metals processed are aluminum and cast iron...

 and crematoria.

In 1871 Siemens was a founder member of the Society of Telegraph Engineers and Electricians (which became the Institution of Electrical Engineers
Institution of Electrical Engineers
The Institution of Electrical Engineers was a British professional organisation of electronics, electrical, manufacturing, and Information Technology professionals, especially electrical engineers. The I.E.E...

 in 1889) and was president of the institution twice, in 1894 and in 1904. His first inaugural address was an analysis of the Electric Lighting Acts of 1882 and 1888, his second advocating a wider use of the metric system
Metric system
The metric system is an international decimalised system of measurement. France was first to adopt a metric system, in 1799, and a metric system is now the official system of measurement, used in almost every country in the world...

. In 1875 he sailed aboard the cable ship Faraday, laying several cables across the North Atlantic. In between voyages he built several furnaces for companies in the USA and Canada. Returning to the UK in 1877 he became a British citizen through naturalization
Naturalization is the acquisition of citizenship and nationality by somebody who was not a citizen of that country at the time of birth....

 in 1878. He was appointed the manager of the electric lighting division of Siemens Brothers in 1879 and was involved in the manufacture of generators, arc lamps and cables for the electric industry.

In 1881 he married Louisa Dodwell with whom he would have three daughters. Later that year Siemens Brothers took over a project to provide the world’s first public electricity supply in Godalming
Godalming is a town and civil parish in the Waverley district of the county of Surrey, England, south of Guildford. It is built on the banks of the River Wey and is a prosperous part of the London commuter belt. Godalming shares a three-way twinning arrangement with the towns of Joigny in France...

, Surrey
Surrey is a county in the South East of England and is one of the Home Counties. The county borders Greater London, Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Hampshire and Berkshire. The historic county town is Guildford. Surrey County Council sits at Kingston upon Thames, although this has been part of...

. This project was never a viable business but the company undertook it in order to gain more experience in the lighting industry.

Siemens had been a director of Siemens Brothers since it became a limited company in 1880 and was made managing director in 1889, a post he was to hold until a significant reorganization replaced him, though he remained on the board of directors until his retirement in 1918. He was appointed to be a British delegate to the International Electrical Congress in 1893 and to a similar congress in Paris in 1901. In the same year as the Paris congress he was appointed to the board of the new National Physical Laboratory
National Physical Laboratory, UK
The National Physical Laboratory is the national measurement standards laboratory for the United Kingdom, based at Bushy Park in Teddington, London, England. It is the largest applied physics organisation in the UK.-Description:...

 in Teddington
Teddington is a suburban area in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames in south west London, on the north bank of the River Thames, between Hampton Wick and Twickenham. It stretches inland from the River Thames to Bushy Park...

. He served as President of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Institution of Civil Engineers
Founded on 2 January 1818, the Institution of Civil Engineers is an independent professional association, based in central London, representing civil engineering. Like its early membership, the majority of its current members are British engineers, but it also has members in more than 150...

 between November 1910 and November 1911.

In retirement he lived at Westover Hall, Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire
Hampshire is a county on the southern coast of England in the United Kingdom. The county town of Hampshire is Winchester, a historic cathedral city that was once the capital of England. Hampshire is notable for housing the original birthplaces of the Royal Navy, British Army, and Royal Air Force...

, where he died, from heart failure, on 16 February 1928.
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