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British Industrial History

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Charles Ralph Townsend

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Charles Townsend (1882-1956) of Townsend Engineering Co, Autoglider, Autoset (Production) and the National Manufacturing Co

1882 Born in Barrow upon Soar, Leicestershire, the son of George Townsend, Engineer / Cycles, and his wife Isabella

1909 Patent 7,375 — George Townsend, jun., Reginald Townsend, and Charles Ralph Townsend, of Birmingham. Improved construction roller skate wheel.[1]

1911 Living at 23 Wilton Rd, Handsworth, Staffordshire: Charles Ralph Townsend (age 28 born Leicester), Consulting and Manufacturing Engineer - Employer. With his wife Matilda Townsend (age 28 born Birmingham) and their three children; Marjorie Townsend (age 5 born Handsworth); Claude Mortimer Townsend (age 3 born Handsworth); and Kathleen Lilian Townsend (age 2 born Handsworth).[2]

1919 'Charles Ralph Townsend, 23, Wilton-road. Handsworth, Birmingham, was summoned for driving a motor ear at excessive speed'[3]

1929 Bankrupt.[4]

1939 Living at Rangoon, Lode lane, Solihull: Charles R. Townsend, Consulting and Manufacturing Director of Engineering Company, with his wife and six children including Claude M. Townsend, Technical Director of Engineering Co.[5]


1956 Obituary.[6]

One of Birmingham's earliest motorists, Mr. Charles Ralph Townsend. of Rangoon, Lode Lane. Solihull, has died at his home at the age of 73. Mr. Townsend built one of the first cars in Birmingham, and had under him, at one time, the Hon. C. S. Rolls (later of Rolls-Royce). who was working at a bench in a Midlands factory.

Mr. Townsend was a consulting engineer in the city and chairman and Joint managing director of Autoset (Production) Ltd., engineers, in Birmingham. He was a prolific inventor, one of his best known inventions being a motor scooter stand. He was, in fact, a pioneer in the development of the motor scooter.

His engineering ingenuity was not confined to road vehicles, since, in his younger days, he experimented with motor boat engines at Southampton a great deal. Mr. Townsend. who was born in Leicester. was a keen Mason, being a Past Provincial Grand Warden of Warwickshire. a Past Master of the Arts and Crafts and Barnard Lodges, and a Past Principal of the Elkington Chapter.

He is survived by his wife. four sons and three daughters. A funeral service will be held on Saturday at Solihull Church.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Era - Saturday 15 May 1909
  2. 1911 Census
  3. Hendon & Finchley Times - Friday 26 September 1919
  4. Birmingham Daily Gazette - Thursday 05 December 1929
  5. 1939 Census
  6. Birmingham Daily Post - Thursday 05 January 1956