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British Industrial History

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David Roberts

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David Roberts (1859-1928) was the Chief Engineer and managing director of Richard Hornsby and Sons in the early 1900s. His invention, the caterpillar track, was demonstrated to the army in 1907.

1859 Born at Chester

1888 He worked for Armstrong, Mitchell and Co in Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne from, staying for eight years.[1]


1928 Obituary [2]

DAVID ROBERTS commenced his engineering career in 1873 with the Hydraulic Engineering Company of Chester, with whom he remained for fifteen years, occupying various important positions at home and abroad.

In 1888 he joined Sir W. G. Armstrong, Mitchell and Company as manager of their Italian works at Pozzuoli. He was later employed in the improvement of the company's methods of manufacture in the ordnance department at Elswick.

In 1895 he was appointed works manager to [Richard Hornsby and Sons|Messrs. Richard Hornsby and Sons]] of Grantham, and he eventually became managing director of the firm, the area of whose works increased from sixteen-and-a-half to eighty acres under his guidance.

In 1918 the firm was amalgamated with Messrs. Ruston, Proctor and Company, and Mr. Roberts was appointed joint managing director of the new firm of Ruston and Hornsby.

He retired from this position in 1920 but remained a director.

Mr. Roberts carried out a considerable amount of pioneer work in the oil-engine industry and was the inventor of boilers of the upright water-tube type, and a caterpillar tractor which was exhibited at and took part in the Royal Review at the military display at Aldershot in 1908.

He died at Grantham in his seventieth year on 22nd April 1928, and had been a Member of the Institution since 1899.



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