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British Industrial History

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Percy Wilbraham Northey

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Percy Wilbraham Northey (1872-1935) of Rolls-Royce

1872 January 3rd. Born

1900 Letter. Of Westminster.[1]

1901 Living at Church Street, Ewell (age 26 born Winchester), Electrical Engineer working on own account. With wife Rosalin G. (age 27 born Oxford) and son John W. (age 4 born South Kensington). Also his brother-in-law Ernest P. Rumpell (age 30 born Oxford). Plus one servant. [2]

1901 July. Details of the Northey sparking plug.[3]

1905 Percy Northey came second overall in the 1907 Tourist Trophy Race.

In 1906 a Rolls-Royce driven by Percy Northey won the Tourist Trophy road race on the Isle of Man

Percy Northey who had, like nearly everyone at Rolls-Royce, been there since the company began.

1909. Percy Wilbraham Northey of Rolls-Royce summoned for a speeding at Godalming. [4]

1921 Northey, Percy Wilbraham, Esq. 12, Pelham Crescent, S.W.I Fellow of the Zoological Society of London

1931 Engaged to be married to Isabel Grylls. Percy is son of Lieut-Col G. Wilbraham Northey A. P., D. L. of Ashley Manor, Box, Wiltshire. [5]

1935 February 20th. Died

1935 Obituary. [6] Died of Pneumonia in London.

1938 His widow re-married. [7]


1935 Obituary [8]

PERCY WILBRAHAM NORTHEY was for twenty-four years attached to Messrs. Rolls-Royce, Ltd., as chief of the technical department for sales. He had been connected with automobile engineering since 1898, when he accepted the position of managing director of the Electric Motive Power Company, and invented a type of electric landaulette employing a two-speed gear.

In 1903 he invented the Northey electric vehicle system, and in the same year he became manager of the Krieger Electric Carriage Syndicate, Ltd. Two years later he invented the Northey petrol-electric vehicle with a magnetic clutch and two-speed epicyclic gear.

In 1907 he was appointed manager of the Manchester branch of the White Steam Car Company, and held this position until his appointment with Messrs. Rolls-Royce in 1909.

Mr. Northey was born in 1872 and was educated at Somersetshire College, Bath. He was articled in 1889 to Mr. Wingfield Bowles, civil engineer, and in 1891 he became assistant engineer to the Brush Electrical Engineering Company, and was engaged on the construction of the electric light works at Bath.

During the following seven years he was engaged on constructional and design work in connexion with electrical power stations at Preston and Richmond; he was also for a brief period engaged at Las Palmas, Canary Islands, on the planning of a scheme for electric lighting for the city.

On returning to England, he undertook the management of the Epstein Accumulator Company, Ltd., for a short interval before he took up automobile work.

During the War he served in France as one of the members of the R.A.C. (of which he was a founder member) selected for special service at the front, and in 1916 was appointed chief of the technical staff of the Dilution of Labour Department at the Ministry of Munitions.

He was later appointed chief engineer to the Royal Commission dealing with labour conditions on the Clyde, and in 1918 became Director of Tank Construction in the Mechanical Warfare Department.

After the War he returned to Messrs. Rolls-Royce, retiring in 1933.

Mr. Northey was elected to Membership of the Institution in 1900.

His death occurred on 20th February 1935.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Autocar 1900/02/17
  2. 1901 Census
  3. The Autocar 1901/07/13
  4. The Times, Tuesday, Feb 23, 1909
  5. The Times, Wednesday, Oct 14, 1931
  6. The Times, Thursday, Feb 28, 1935
  7. The Times, Saturday, Aug 13, 1938
  8. 1935 Institution of Mechanical Engineers: Obituaries