Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Archibald Stewart Campbell (1898–1978)

by Margaret Henry

This article was published:

Archibald Stewart Campbell (1898-1978), electrical engineer, was born on 1 May 1898 at Cardiff, New South Wales, second child of James Campbell, a coalminer from Scotland, and his native-born wife Elizabeth Jane, née Jones. Educated at Newcastle High School, Arch passed the Intermediate certificate in 1914 and was apprenticed to an electrical fitter with the Newcastle Electric Supply Council Authority. He undertook the inaugural diploma course in electrical engineering at Newcastle Technical College and in 1924 gained an associateship of Sydney Technical College, with the prize for the best pass in engineering. (In 1940 he was to attend N.T.C.'s first course in industrial management.)

From 1919 Campbell worked as an electrical fitter, rising to leading hand two years later. In 1922 Newcastle Municipal Council sent him for four months experience in the electric supply department of Sydney Municipal Council. At the Methodist Church, Merewether, on 24 May 1924 Arch married Cynthia Margaret Roberts, whose mother was a Campbell; they were to have a son and four daughters. He was promoted test-room foreman (1925) and assistant powerhouse superintendent (1927). In 1929-37 Campbell taught electrical trades part time at N.T.C.; in 1942-57 he was an 'active and valuable' member of the Newcastle Technical Education District Council. Having been admitted to the Institution of Electrical Engineers, London, by thesis in 1940, he was chairman (1941-43) of the Newcastle division of the Institution of Engineers, Australia, and presented four technical papers to the division.

During World War II Campbell had been an educational officer with the Air Training Corps, an authorized assessor of claims under the National Security (War Damage to Property) Regulations and a member (1941-46) of the Newcastle Scientific Manpower (Engineering) Advisory Committee. His creativity and inventiveness were particularly evident when N.E.S.C.A. manufactured electrical machinery for the Royal Australian Navy.

In 1952 Campbell was appointed electrical engineer and manager of N.E.S.C.A. which became largely self-contained as a result of his policy of training electrical cadets and apprentices. He set high standards and paid meticulous attention to detail. In 1956 he went abroad for eight months to report on developments in the electricity industry in Britain, Europe and North America. On the formation of Shortland County Council in 1957, he was made its chief electrical engineer. Campbell rewrote technical reports until they were intelligible to aldermen. He was a skilful negotiator, with a sound business sense, who put N.E.S.C.A. on a firm financial footing. Praised for his fairness and ability to enthuse his staff, he was affectionate and gentle, generous with his time and money, and had a wry sense of humour. A devout Methodist, he was a senior circuit steward and a Sunday-School teacher. He belonged to the Rotary Club of Newcastle and to the Newcastle Business Men's Club (president 1960).

Survived by his wife and two daughters, Campbell died on 10 June 1978 at Merewether and was cremated. In 1933 he had written, 'I have always endeavoured to do my best: no man can do more, but no man should do less'.

Select Bibliography

  • Institute of Engineers, Australia, Journal, 13, 1941, 14, 1942
  • Shortland County Council, Newcastle, Annual Report, 1957
  • Business Men's Club, Newcastle, Vision, 2, no 2, 1961, 6, no 1, 1965
  • Newcastle Morning Herald, 12 Mar 1952, 9 Mar 1955, 29 May, 22 Aug 1957, 8 June 1959, 3, 30 Apr 1964, 14 June 1978
  • Newcastle Sun, 28 Aug 1957
  • private information.

Citation details

Margaret Henry, 'Campbell, Archibald Stewart (1898–1978)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 13 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


1 May, 1898
Cardiff, New South Wales, Australia


10 June, 1978 (aged 80)
Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia

Cultural Heritage

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