26 August 2015

Leslie Bertram Hutton (1889–1972)

  • Leslie Hutton, circa 1948. Past Presidents Album. IPENZ.

Leslie Bertram Hutton was a Fellow and former President of the New Zealand Institution of Engineers (NZIE, now the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ)).

He was born at Otahuhu, near Auckland, and attended King's College from 1898 until 1906. He distinguished himself in football, cricket and athletics, and was the first boy to command the cadet corps.

On leaving school he spent 12 months working in an engineering workshop, and then moved south to the Canterbury College School of Engineering, under the late Professor Robert Julian Scott. He gained a Bachelor of Engineering degree in electrical engineering.

Engineering career and World War One service

Hutton then joined the electrical branch of the Public Works Department (PWD) under Lawrence Birks, and served as a field officer in the erection of the transmission line from Lake Coleridge.

On the outbreak of war in August 1914 he enlisted as a private in the 1st Canterbury Infantry Regiment of the Main Body. Hutton served in Egypt and Gallipoli, and, at the time of the evacuation, had, despite various developments, attained the rank of company Sergeant-Major. On the return of the troops to Egypt, he was one of six non-commissioned officers chosen from the brigade by General Johnson to be granted a commission and return to New Zealand to bring out a reinforcement. He later joined his unit in France, and finished the war in command of his old company. He was awarded the Military Cross and received mention from the Secretary of State for War.

On demobilisation in New Zealand, he returned to the PWD and was posted to Waihi and Horahora, and then to Hamilton as Assistant Engineer. In 1923 he was appointed the Southland Power Board’s Assistant Engineer, becoming Chief Engineer in 1927. In 1936 Hutton was briefly a New Zealand Electricity Department District Engineer.

In 1937 he moved to Wellington when he was made the City Council's Transport and Electricity Department’s Assistant General Manager. He became General Manager in 1942, a position he occupied until his retirement in 1954.

Services to engineering

Hutton was deeply interested in the activities of the engineering profession, and at various times served as Chairman of the NZIE’s Southland Branch, Chairman of the Wellington Branch, Vice-President and then President for 1947–48. He was also on the NZIE Council for a total of eight years. He served on the Education, Membership, Publications and Awards committees, and as the NZIE representative on the Rehabilitation Committee.

He was also a member, and for some time Chairman, of the Technical Advisory Committee of the Dominion Physical Laboratory. Hutton was a member of the Executive Committee of the Electric Supply Authorities Engineers' Association for 20 years, served a term as President and was elected an honorary life member on his retirement.

In recognition of his outstanding services to the engineering profession Hutton was awarded the NZIE’s F W MacLean Citation in 1959.

Hutton died in Christchurch on 15 August 1972 and was survived by his wife and two children, Mrs Newton of London, and Mr DM Hutton of Auckland.

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New Zealand Engineering, October 1972, p.326.