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British Industrial History

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Herbert Charles Macleod Stevens

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Herbert Charles Macleod Stevens (1883-1948)

1883 October 12th. Born in London the son of Frank Charles Olroyd Stevens (1852-1905) and his wife Isabella Harriet Barnes

1891 Living at 170 Edgware Road, Marylebone: Frank C. O. Stevens (age 39 born Pimlico), Draper and Employer. With his wife Isabella Harriett Stevens (age 33 born Sudbrooke, Lincs.) and their five sons; Frank G. B. Stevens (age 10 born Marylebone); Herbert C. M. Stevens (age 8 born Hampstead); Vernon O. Stevens (age 6 born Hampstead); Douglas P. Stevens (age 4 born Marylebone); and Montagu P. Stevens (age 2 born Marylebone). Four servants / shop assistants. [1]

Education: private tuition at home, later St Marylebone Grammar School, Deal College, and West London School of Engineering.

1899 Apprentice to Wilson-Pilcher, London, for 2½ years (experimental gliders).

1901(?) mechanic, Central Motor Co, London. 1½ years

1901 Living at 170 Edgware Road, Marylebone: Frank Stevens (age 49 born Pimlico), Fancy Draper and Employer. With his wife Isabella Stevens (age 43 born Sudbrooke, Lincs.) and their three sons; Frank Stevens (age 20 born Marylebone), Draper's Assistant; Herbert Stevens (age 18 born Hampstead), Mechanical Engineer; and Douglas Stevens (age 14 born Marylebone).[2]

1903(?) draftsman, Roots and Venables, 1 ½ years.

1904(?) draftsman, D. Napier and Son, 2 ½ years.

1907(?) senior draftsman, J. I. Thornycroft, (internal combustion engines for Italian submarines), 2 years.

1907 June 26th. Married at Bedford Park, Chiswick, to Laura Elizabeth Woods. He is shown as an Engineer and his father as a Draper. Her father is shown as a gentleman.

1908 January 7th. Birth at Lewisham of son Herbert Douglas Woods Stevens (1908–1978)

1909(?) chief draftsman, Thames Ironworks and Shipbuilding Co, (60hp Thames car took 12 hour world records in 1911), 3 ½ years.

1911 Living at 139 Mount Pleasant Road, Lewisham: Herbert Stevens (age 28 born Kilburn), Draughtsman at Motor Car Manufacturer. With his wife Laura Stevens (age 26 born Brentwood) and their son Herbert Stevens (age 3 born Lewisham).[3]

1912(?) chief draftsman, Adams Manufacturing Co, Bedford, 1 year (patent for improvements in gearing).

1912 March. Birth at Lewisham of daughter Winifred M. Stevens (1912–1999)

1913 works manager and engineer, Ogston Motor Co, makers of Deemster light car, 1 year (patent for starting mechanism).

1914-1919 chief designer and assistant engineer, Sunbeam Motor Car Co, (involved in design for all machinery for airships R33 – R38. During period five patents taken out by Sunbeam, Coatalen and Stevens).

1919-1923 drawing office Talbot-Darracq, Suresnes, France (reported to have designed the 1 ½ litre Talbot Darracq that won 200 Mile Race in 1921, 1922, 1923, and the 3 litre Sunbeam that won 1922 Tourist Trophy. During period three patents taken out with Sunbeam, Coatalen and Stevens).

1923 Chief engineer Sunbeam, Wolverhampton and Talbot, London, (during period two patents taken out with Sunbeam, Coatalen and Stevens).

1925 September, joined General Motors Corporation (6 months in London doing special investigation work before moving to Lansing)

1926 consulting engineer, Olds Motor Works, Lansing, Michigan, USA. July 1926 appointed chief engineer.

? returned to Europe, consulting engineer in France for G.M.

? consulting engineer, Citroen.

1931 June, designer and production engineer, Singer (27.08.31. took 3 year lease, 11 Morningside, Earlsdon, - Coventry History Centre)

1932 June, joined Sunbeam (designed Dawn with independent front suspension for 1934. Patent for improvements to clutch control mechanisms, 1932, Sunbeam and Stevens).

1937 set up Avimo, Taunton, to manufacture under licence Bronzavia aircraft equipment. H.C.M.S. Managing Director and General Manager, co-director Air-Comdr B.C.H. Drew C.M.G., C.B.E., R.A.F. (retd). (between 1937 and 1948 took out twelve patents, Avimo Ltd and Stevens)

1948 January 19th. Died January age 65 and of Bradford-on-Tone, Somerset. Probate to his Genevieve Georgette Marthe Stevens, widow.

1948 Obituary [4]

Death of Mr. H. C. M. Stevens Head of Avimo, Ltd.

Distinguished Career in Engineering.

Aviation Expert.

The death occurred on Tuesday at his home, Hele Mount, Bradford-on-Tone, of Mr H. C. M. Stevens, managing director and general manager of Avimo Limited, and a distinguished engineer. He was 65.

Mr Stevens had a wide knowledge of engineering and aviation. In 1899, after a polytechnic engineering course and gaining a London University certificate in electrical engineering, he entered the works of Messrs. Wilson & Pilcher, the year that Pilcher was killed with one of the firm's experimental gliders.

In 1902 Mr. Stevens left the shops for the design side, entering the drawing office of D. Naper & Sons, and continued this work with several well-known firms, including J. J. Thornycroft and Thames Iron Works, until in 1913-14 he designed and put into production as works manager for the Ogston Motor Car Co.. the Deemster car.


At the outbreak of World War I he joined Sunbeam, Ltd., Wolverhampton, as assistant to the chief engineer, and later as chief engineer, where he remained until 1925. During that period, he developed the Sunbeam Coatalen aircraft engine and power plants of several British dirigibles, including the R. 34.

In 1925 he went to the U.S.A. as chief engineer of the Oldsmobile Co., of Lansing, Michigan, a division of General Motors Corp., returning to France some two years later to establish consulting engineer's practice, with particular reference to continuous production and coordinating design. Through his consulting engineer's practice, he formed valuable connections with principal aircraft and engine companies in France, and was granted the exclusive manufacturing rights of many aircraft accessories and instruments by the Bronzavia Co.. of Courbevoie, France.

He returned to this country in 1937 to form for their manufacture and development the present company Avimo Limited.


Besides his business activities, he was a fine pianist and musician and once had his own orchestra with 60 players, known as "The Sunbeam Orchestra." His other recreation was oil painting. In France he was well known in yachting circles, as he sailed the motor yacht "Me Voici." In 1924, he won the Coupe de La Mer Monte Carlo for a sailing voyage with the Marquis de Soriola.

He was a member of the County Club, Taunton, the Royal Aero Club. London, the Royal Torbay Yacht Club, Torquay, president of the Gardeners' Association and vice-president of the Taunton and District Table Tennis League. He was also a prominent Freemason. I.P.M. Clerkenwell Lodge No. 1964, member St. George's Lodge, Taunton 3158. Chapter Felicity. No. 58, Tuscan Rose Croix Chapter.

He leaves a wife, the former Genevieve Garcon, of Paris, whom he married in 1936. She is the granddaughter of Augustin Garcon, Offlcier d'Academe and Man of Letters, who was responsible for much of the Franco-British reapprochement amongst the young French officers of the period. He also leaves a son and daughter by a previous marriage.


The Mayor of Taunton (Councillor Howard Southwood) and the Town Clerk (Mr. L. Atwell) were among the mourners who attended the funeral service at St. Mary's Church, Taunton, on Thursday. There were many representatives of Taunton civic and business life as well as members of Masonic Lodges with which Mr. Stevens was connected. More than 100 members the staff of the Avimo factory attended.

The service was conducted Preb. W. H. Heaton Renshaw (rural dean and vicar of St. Mary's), assisted the Rev. J. E. Davies (vicar of Bradford-on-Tone) and Rev. C. Chitty (curate at St. Mary's). The service was followed cremation at Arno's Vale, Bristol). Family mourners were the widow, Mr. Herbert Stevens (son), Messrs. Vernon and Douglas Stevens (brothers), Mr. Arthur Stevens (nephew). Mr. C. Cundell (cousin), Mr H. W. Martin (director of Avimo and also representing Air Com. Drew, director), and Mrs. Martin, and M. Feuillee.

Executives of Avimo Ltd. who were present were Messrs. W. H Cowling. F. C. Brown. F. W. Whitaker, F. S. Beecham, R. Irving. S. R. G. Ashford, O. Stevens, R. Bowlas. E. Sumner. J. Green. W. Milton. W. E. Brown. H. Karplus, J. Haggutt. C. E. S. Ridgers, J. MacPherson and E. G. Wright.

Members of the staff who acted as bearers were Messrs. R. Bishop. F. Lea, H P. Baker, R. Jenkins, R. E. Collins and K. N. Williams.

The funeral arrangements were entrusted to Messrs. Hatcher & Son. Ltd.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1891 Census
  2. 1901 Census
  3. 1911 Census
  4. Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser - Saturday 24 January 1948
  • Nickols and Karslake, Motoring Entente,
  • Advance Press Service, S2348, 19.06.27. H.C.M. Stevens.
  • Flight Magazine, on-line archive, 1937 and 1948.
  • Espacenet, European Patent Office.
  • Motor Sport, June 1931.