Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Dowty Co of Cheltenham

1931 George Dowty, formerly of the A. V. Roe and Co and later with Gloster Aircraft Co set up his own one-man company Aircraft Components Co while still employed at the latter. The company promoted George Dowty's designs and patents. In June 1931 he received his first order, worth £1500, from Kawasaki in Japan, to fit Dowty internally sprung undercarriage wheels to its Type 92 aircraft. George Dowty left Gloster Aircraft Co the same month, borrowed against a life assurance, and established single-handed the first foundations of a vast international engineering enterprise. With one order and no factory, using subcontract manufacture and the help in the evenings of two friends, Dowty designed, ordered, and assembled two of his wheels and within nine weeks shipped them to Japan, being paid on shipment. He recruited his first two employees in November.

1934 A major breakthrough occurred when he offered H. P. Folland at Glosters a pair of oleostruts of new design for the Gloster Gauntlet aircraft. This gave him his first large production order and was followed by a similar order for the Gladiator. Dowty leased a factory and bought Arle Court, Cheltenham.

1936 The firm went public with George Dowty holding a small percentage of the equity. Thanks to the concurrent technical revolution in aircraft design to include retractable undercarriages, brakes, and flaps, his work and knowledge expanded rapidly.

1940 Name of the company changed to Dowty Equipment Ltd[1].

WWII During the Second World War twenty-eight different aircraft were fitted with Dowty equipment, which included 12,900 sets for the Hurricane, over 90,000 other undercarriage units, and more than a million hydraulic units. Plants were set up throughout Britain and in Canada and the USA.

After the Second World War Dowty applied his new approaches to hydraulics to wider fields including motorcycle forks, hydraulic pit props and a prime support system, industrial pumps, and hydraulic control systems.

In 1954 a group holding company, Dowty, was formed to hold Dowty Equipment; the Canadian operation generated 50 per cent of the total turnover.

1954 Rotol Airscrews was acquired

1960 Advert for Roofmaster fully mechanised hydraulic roof support by Dowty Mining Equipment of Ashchurch

1961 Boulton Paul Aircraft acquired[2], which was renamed Dowty Boulton Paul.

1962 Subsidiaries included[3]:

Other products included Dowty Moog valves and Dowmatic Hydraulic Equipment

There were 700 young people under training.

1968 Higgins Boughton Industries and its principal subsidiary Mining Engineering Meco of Worcester were acquired[4].

1975 George Dowty died

1992 Acquired by TI Group

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, 15 October 1940
  2. The Times, 27 January 1961
  3. The Times, 5 September 1962
  4. The Times, 16 January 1968
  • Mining Year Book 1960. Published by Walter E. Skinner. Advert p253