In 1913, nearly thirty thousand Americans were dying each year from typhoid fever - most as a consequence of drinking contaminated water. Within a decade, the death reate from typhoid was only 2,000 a year - a 93 percent reduction. The hundreds of thousands who, in that short time span, avoided contrating the disease owed their lives to Charles F Wallace, the inventor of an automatic chlorinating device used by municipal utilities to purify water.
Water, our most important food stuff, harbours many dangers resulting from contamination by micro-organisms. Scientists began to investigate methods of combating expecially dangerous water bacteria more than 130 years ago.
Wallace and his life-long friend and business partern, Martin F Tiernan, founded Wallace & Tiernan Company in 1911. The two young men - not yet thirty years old - used their combined savings of $1,800 to set up a machine shop in which Wallace constructed equipment that Tiernan would sell. They broke new ground in 1913 by developing a machine that would automatically pipe chlorine gas into a Boonton, New Jersey stream that was polluting the Jersey City water supply. Wallace's first invention was so successful that within a few years, the Wallace & Tiernan device was being used to purify half the world's drinking water supply.
As early as 1926 Wallace & Tiernan founded their first daughter company, starting in Europe, in the City of London. The offices of Wallace & Tiernan were appropriately located in Water Lane!
Three years later, in 1929, a subsidiary was founded in Berlin which saw the start of Wallace & Tiernan's history in Germany.
Wallace & Tiernan rapidly developed to be a successful global company which became synonymous with gaseous chlorination.
In addition to the chlorinator, Wallace invented pressure-sensitive instruments and telemetering systems as well as timing devices used in marine beacons, foghorns and other aids to navigation. He also developed a process widely used in the baking industry for bleaching and aging flour. In all, Charles Wallace was granted more than eighty patents during his career.
After forty years of working together, Tiernan reflected on their friendship and experience as business partners in a letter written to Wallace in 1952:
"Just think, you and I with so little money, no business experience, complete ignorance of the pitfalls that any business can have, to say nothing of the hazards that a new venture can meet, yet we have not only succeeded ina financial way but have built a business of worldwide honorable reputation and have done and are doing a real service for the good of our fellow man."
"It would seem that God himself was watching over us at all times and I do really believe He has rewarded us for the way we live and our love of truth and honesty and our attitude to our employees and our families."
For more than 90 years, Wallace & Tiernan Products have led the way in the development and production of chemical dosing equipment, analytical instrumentation and control systems in all areas of water treatment.
As a result of several mergers and acquisitions the Wallace & Tiernan brand is now part of the product offering of Siemens Water Technologies, the water business of Siemens, one of the world's largest electrical, automation and process technology companies. The company has manufacturing centers in Germany, Mexico, UK and the USA with business and distribution centers in Australia, Brazil, China, Canada, France and Singapore as well as manufacturer's agents and representatives in virtually every corner of the world.