LE MAISTRE, Charles Delacour



5th August 1874 to 5th July 1953

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Biographical Text

Le Maistre was an engineer who served as director of the British Standards Institute and played a key role in the establishment of international engineering standards. 

Le Maistre was born on Jersey in 1874. He was educated at Brighton College from 1882-5, where his father was a tutor, and then at Central Technical College in South Kensington, before becoming a member of the Institute of Electrical Engineers. From 1895-1901 he was employed at the electrical department of Thames Ironworks. 

In 1901 Le Maistre was appointed electrical assistant secretary of the newly founded British Engineering Standards Committee, working with the secretary, Leslie Robertson. When Robertson was killed aboard H.M.S. Hampshire (the ship was torpedoed while taking Lord Kitchener and his staff to Russia in 1916), Le Maistre was appointed as his successor. In 1918 the organisation became the British Engineering Standards Association, and in 1929 was transformed into the British Standards Institute with Le Maistre as its founding director. He held this post until his retirement in 1942. 

As well as his work on engineering standards in Britain, Le Maistre also helped to spread the standardisation movement overseas. In 1931, with the support of the Board of Trade, he helped to establish an equivalent of the BSI in New Zealand, and also travelled to Canada, the USA and Australia. Earlier, in 1906 he was appointed the first general secretary of the International Electroctechnical Commission, a post he held until shortly before his death. He helped to establish the United Nations Standards Co-ordinating Committee, and was president of the International Federation for Documentation. He received the CBE in 1920 for his work with the British Engineering Standards Association, and was later made Knight Commander of the Royal Swedish Order of Vasa. Le Maistre died in Bramley, Surrey on 5 July 1953. 


‘Charles Le Maistre’, https://www.gracesguide.co.uk/Charles_Le_Maistre  

‘Charles Le Maistre’, International Electrotechnical Commission, http://www.iec.ch/about/history/figures/charles_le_maistre.htm  

Who Was Who  

Yates, J. and Murphy, C.N., ‘Charles Le Maistre: Entrepreneur in International Standardization’, Enterprise et Histoires 51, 2008, pp. 10-27.  

Original Source

‘International standardisation and simplification’, April 1928, Balliol College


“LE MAISTRE, Charles Delacour ,” The Rowntree Business Lectures and the Interwar British Management Movement, accessed August 5, 2020, http://rowntree.exeter.ac.uk/items/show/710.