Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Francis Rodwell Banks

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Air Commodore Francis Rodwell Banks (1898-1985) C.B., O.B.E., M.I.Mech.E.

1898 Born in Birmingham, son of Bernard Rodwell and Francis Emily Banks[1]

1911 Living with his parents in Hornsey.

1912 Began apprenticeship with B. R. Banks and Co, Dublin, general engineers.

Continued apprenticeship at East Anglian Ice Co, Lowestoft. Evening classes at Holloway Polytechnic.

Technical course on engines under the chief designer at J. W. Brooke and Co, marine motor engineers, Lowestoft.

WWI Joined the Navy after his application to join the RFC was rejected because he was too young; attained the rank Lieutenant RNVR; employed on running and maintenance of Vickers Submarine Diesel Engines, aero engines (attached to RNAS), and high speed petrol engines in coastal motor boats.

1919 Left the Navy

1919 Appointed OBE

1920 Chief diesel engineer to Messrs Scott Green and J. C. Green, consulting naval architects of Newcastle upon Tyne.

1924 Joined Peter Hooker Ltd as Chief test and experimental engineer. Responsible for the development of large aero engines for the Air Ministry

Subsequently wrote a letter to 'Motor Sport' magazine saying that he had been an experimental engineer to Messrs. Peter Hooker, responsible for the development of the Stromboli engine, 'designed by a charming and gentlemanly Italian engineer, Ettore Lanzerotti Spina.'

1927 December: left Peter Hooker Ltd.

1928 Joined Anglo-American Oil Co Ltd in the Ethyl Petrol section. Technical representative (northern area) advising customers on fuels, especially for high compression engines.

1928 Test and experimental engineer (aero engines), of Leeds, became a Member of the Institution of Automobile Engineers.

1929 Associate member of Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Worked for Associated Ethyl Co on aviation fuels, where he was given responsibility for the fuel for the British entrants to the Schneider Trophy in 1929 and 1931.

1930 of Gunnersbury Park, London W3; gained aeronautical certificate at Brooklands School of Flying

WWII Joined RAFVR. He was transferred to the Ministry of Aircraft Production where he was put in charge of aero-engine production and then aero-engine research and development. Developed the plan for postwar gas turbine development.

1946 Returned to Associated Ethyl

1946 Conferred CB

1950 Delivered the James Clayton Lecture: "The Aviation Engine".

1952-3 Worked for the Ministry of Supply

1954 Director of the Bristol Aeroplane Co and Hawker Siddeley Aviation

c.1959 Managing Director of Blackburn Engines

1985 Died at age of 87 in London[2]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1911 census
  2. National probate calendar
  • The Times, May 14, 1985