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Arnold Lewis George Lindley

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Arnold Lewis George Lindley of GEC

1968 Bio Note [1]

Sir Arnold Lindley was born in London, the youngest of seven children. His mother was a trained nurse, dedicated to her profession, which gave the family a somewhat clinical atmosphere. He wanted to be a surgeon but this was beyond his father's means; instead he studied engineering at Woolwich Polytechnic, of which he is now a Fellow. Why did he become an engineer? His answer is that, from an early age, he seemed to have all the fabrication jobs to do and it has been like that ever since. Also, he was fortunate in having a good head for mathematics.

Sir Arnold was apprenticed at the Fraser and Chalmers Engineering Works of the General Electric Co., Erith, which manufactured steam turbines, compressors and heavy mining plant. His training included experience in erection, commissioning and testing on site and in the fourth year of his apprenticeship he entered the drawing office and later the design department for steam turbine, generating and mining equipment.

His work took him to Belgium, Holland and France, and in 1933 he was transferred to South Africa as resident engineer for the GEC of South Africa. A transfer of this kind, he says, will put anyone's training to the test and you come to know quickly how much you don't know and how much you had taken for granted by way of design advice, manufacturing equipment and facilities for research, such as exist in a country like Britain.

In his early life in South Africa the first requirement was to be able to improvise and to take risks and responsibilities on a much greater scale than at home. This, he feels, sharpened his judgment, not only of engineering designs but also of men.

He was in South Africa for 16 years. He became a Director of the South African GEC in 1940 and took a leading part in establishing the manufacture of heavy equipment in South Africa and in the creation of the establishment known as Vecor, the centre of heavy engineering there. He became a member of the South African Institution of Mechanical Engineers and was elected a member of its Council in 1940 and a Vice-President in 1948.

In 1949 he was recalled to England to become General Manager of the Turbine Engineering Works at Erith and to re-equip and expand the factory to meet the demand for the large turbo-generating units which were then coming into being. He became responsible for the establishment and development of the nuclear energy interests of the GEC which included building two nuclear power stations and setting up extensive research facilities.

He became a Director of the Company in 1953 and later was appointed Chairman and Managing Director. In his opinion, to hold a key administrative position requires the ability to apply logic, tempered at times with a little emotion, and perhaps a life in engineering gives one these tools of office.

He was knighted in 1964 for services to industry and in the same year, on his retirement from GEC, was appointed Chairman of the Engineering Industry Training Board. He is also Deputy Chairman of Motherwell Bridge (Holdings) and a Director of W. G. Allen Sons and Co. In the course of his work Sir Arnold has travelled throughout the world.

Asked how he saw the future of the Institution, he said: "Although the qualifications for membership are being upgraded, it must not be forgotten that the Institution, in practice, carries on where the university courses end. This is of the greatest importance to the engineering profession and every encouragement must be given to graduates to become members.

We live in a great age of invention and, fortunately, there is a surge forward in training, generally, under the compulsion of the Training Act of 1964. There are signs that we are here stepping ahead of other countries who are closely watching the results of this legislation."

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1968 Institution of Mechanical Engineers