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Frank Arthur Perkins (1889-1967), founder of Perkins a manufacturer of diesel engines
Francis Arthur (Frank) Perkins, was born in Peterborough on 26 February 1889 the son of J. E. S. Perkins. His father and grandfather were engineers; the family firm, Barford and Perkins, manufactured agricultural machinery and road rollers. Graduated from Cambridge in 1910 with a pass degree in mechanical engineering.
Initially rented a farm in Hertfordshire.
WWI: commissioned in the Royal Engineers, served in the Dardanelles, Palestine, and Egypt.
1915 Married Susan Gwynneth Williams. They had one son and three daughters.
1918 Joined Lawes Chemicals Ltd before returning to the family firm.
1928 Perkins moved to Aveling and Porter Ltd of Rochester, another AGE member, as works director and vice-chairman; in the same year the two companies formed a joint roller manufacturing company. Perkins became involved in the development (with designer Charles Wallace Chapman) of a light, four-cylinder, high-speed diesel engine to power agricultural tractors made by Richard Garrett and Sons of Leiston, also a member of AGE. Before the engine was fully developed the Depression had bankrupted the company.
Perkins was convinced diesel was the power unit of the future because of its superior fuel efficiency. Perkins bought the rights to the Invicta engine and started his own company, F. Perkins Ltd, to continue its development at the Queen Street works in Peterborough, which still belonged to his father. With Charles Chapman as chief engineer, and three former employees of Aveling and Porter, he tested the first engine, the four-cylinder Vixen, by the end of 1932. This became the Wolf series, used in Commer trucks. The two men were very different: Frank was the enterprising aggressive salesman; Charles was a shy, retiring genius.
1956-7 President of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders and High Sheriff of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire.
1959 Massey-Ferguson bought all the shares in F. Perkins Ltd. Frank Perkins remained as chairman until 1962, when he was elected honorary president.
1956-57 President of the SMMT
1961 His first wife died
1965 Perkins married Maud V. Dixon.
Died on 15 October 1967 at Alwalton Hall, near Peterborough.
1967 Obituary