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British Industrial History

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Frank John Tippen

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Frank John Tippen (1885-1965) of Frank Tippen and Sons

1885 May 05th. Born in Charing, Kent, the son of Harry Tippen, a stationer shopkeeper and sub-Postmaster and his wife Mary Jane Kingsnorth.

Education: Grammar School, Yalding, Kent; technical training at Birmingham Central Tech. School (Evening Classes).

1903 Pupil, Ariel Motors

1909 Draughtsman in Special Designs Dept., Wolseley Tool and Motor Car Co

1910 Married at King's Norton to Lavinia Morgan

1911 Living at 14 Mickleton Road, Coventry: Frank John Tippen (age 25 born Charing, Kent), Mechanical Draughtsman, Motor Car Manufacturer. With his wife Lavinia Tippen (age 23 born Worcester). Also his sister Nellie Tippen (age 22 born Headcorn, Kent).[1]

1911 Birth of daughter Cynthia Madge Tippen

1912 Joined Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, on Design and Transmission; later Section Leader on Lighter-than-air Craft; worked on H.M.A. "Gamma" and H.M.A. "Delta," and responsible for design of H.M.A. "Eta" (flew in all these). Sometime an Associate Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society when his interest was in Airship design.

1914 Appointed by Admiralty, Chief Designer, Airships, to R.N.A.S., and designed S.S. Airships (Blimps)

1914 Birth of son Mervyn Kingsmorth Tippen

1918 Birth of son Ronald Frank Tippen

1915 Assistant Admiralty Overseer (Airships) to Vickers

1916 Chief of Aviation Dept., William Beardmore and Co, Dalmuir, (building of R23 and R34)

1918 Airship Section of [[Aircraft Manufacturing Co, Hendon; honoured as A.F.R.Ae.S. (honour lapsed on ending of airship construct.)

1920 Took aircraft to Newfoundland for sealing industry and made survey of Botwood Aerodrome, later succeeded by Gander

1921 Returned to motor industry, Chief Draughtsman, Ariel Motors

1925 Experimental design and Research, Sunbeam Motor Car Co

1928-31 Chief Designer for Singer and Co

1931-33 Experimental work on hydraulic gears on own account in conjunction with Clayton Dewandre Co

1935 Started company making variable gears for machine drives under the name of 'Heterospeed'

1935-41 Working on own account and designed and built a four-cylinder Diesel engine for light transport and being manufactured by Coventry Climax Engines under the name of 'Climax-Tippen' Diesel.[2]

1939 Living at 21 Orchard Crescent, Coventry, Frank J. Tippen,Engineer - own account. With his wife Lavinia Tippen (born 1887) and two sons Mervyn K. Tippen (born 1914), Engineer's Draughtsman, and Ronald F. Tippen (born 1918), Planing and Shaping m/c Operator.[3]

1940 Designed and built high precision engine governor and introduced name "Iso-speedic "

1942 Registered own company;

1942 Patent. Governing gear for engines and other machines. Frank John Tippen, Coventry, England, assignor to Leonard Pelham Lee, near Stratford-on- Avon.[4]

1946 Commenced supply of invalid tricycles for M.o.W., later M.o.H.

1947 Patent. Wear distribution device for friction wheels. Frank John Tippen, Coventry.[5]

1948 Started production on an invalid chair

1959 Chairman and Managing Director Frank Tippen and Sons.

1965 Died.


1965 Obituary.[6]

'FORMER airship designer, Mr. Frank John Tippen, who was the founder and chairman of a Coventry engineering firm which makes motor-propelled invalid tricycles, died on Wednesday in the Isle of Wight, where he was on holiday. Mr Tippen, who was 80, lived at 21 Orchard Crescent and leaves a widow, two sons and a daughter. His eldest son, Mr. Mervyn Tippen, managing director of Frank Tippen and Sons Ltd, of 90, Stratford Street, and Delta Works, Bodmin Road.

The firm, which was established in 1938 and became a limited company four years later, produced pneumatic hammers, variable gears for industrial purposes, and invalid tricycles, thousands of which have been supplied to the Ministry of Works and Ministry of Health.

Mr. Tippen was born to Kent, and after engineering experience in Midland firms, he joined the Royal Aircraft Establishment in 1912 and as engaged in the pioneering days on aircraft design and transmission.

He later designed the airship Eta, was involved in the construction of the airships Gamma and Delta, and flew in all three. In 1914 the Admiralty appointed him chief designer of airships to the Royal Naval Air Service. Mr. Tippen designed the RNAS blimps and soon afterwards became assistant Admiralty overseer at Vickers Ltd.

In 1916 he took up an appointment in Scotland as chief of the aviation department for William Beardmore Ltd., where he was concerned with the construction of the R23 and R34. predecessors of the ill-fated R101 airship. He was elected an Associated Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society for his work in this sphere.

After several other appointments, Mr. Tippen went to the Singer Company as chief engineer and designer. Shortly before starting his own firm, he designed a diesel engine under contract to an engineering firm in Japan.

He also designed the high precision Iso-Speedic engine governor, which is made by a subsidiary of Coventry Climax Ltd. and a vertical diesel engine which is the prototype of the Coventry Climax diesel.

Mr. Tippen was a member of the Coventry County Club


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1911 census
  2. IMechE Records
  3. 1939 Census
  4. Google Patents
  5. Google Patents
  6. Coventry Evening Telegraph - Friday 21 May 1965