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Alfred Rowe Bellamy

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Alfred Rowe Bellamy (c1862-1945)

1939 M.I.Mech.E. Ruston and Hornsby, Ltd., Spittlegate Iron Works, Grantham. Private address:1, Welby Gardens, Grantham.

1946 Obituary [1]

ALFRED ROWE BELLAMY, whose death occurred on 16th July 1945 at the age of 83, had been a director of Messrs. Ruston and Hornsby, Ltd., of Lincoln and Grantham, and of firms absorbed into their organization, for more than fifty years, and was well known as a pioneer in the development of the internal combustion engine. He was educated privately and served his apprenticeship from 1878 to 1883 with Messrs. Pollock and Macnab, of Manchester. During this period he attended classes at the Victoria University. He then entered the drawing office of Messrs. J. E. H. Andrew and Company, of Stockport, who at that time had just begun the manufacture of the Bisschop gas engine, a French invention.

The experimental work of Mr. Andrew in conjunction with Mr. Bellamy (who furnished the first complete set of drawings), was so successful that thousands of these small engines were built. Later he was closely concerned with the development of the two-cycle "Stockport" gas engine. On the reconstitution of the firm as a limited liability company in 1886, he was made secretary and works manager, becoming general manager in 1890 and finally, in 1893, managing director. In that capacity he was responsible for the layout and construction of the company's new works at Reddish, near Stockport, where he subsequently brought out a new four-stroke engine.

Other products of the firm included gas engines and suction gas plant. On the amalgamation of the business in 1906 with that of Messrs. Richard Hornsby and Sons, Ltd., of Grantham, Mr. Bellamy became a director of the new company, and continued on the board after a further amalgamation, in 1918, with Messrs. Ruston and Proctor, of Lincoln. He was also a director of the associated company of Messrs. Ruston-Bucyrus, Ltd. His resignation of these appointments took effect in 1944.

He had been a Member of the Institution since 1897 and was a founder member and past-president of the Grantham Engineering Society.

1945 Obituary [2]

The death of Mr. Alfrred Rowe Bellamy, which took place at his home at 1, Welby Gardens, Grantham, on July 16th, severs a further link with the early days of the British gas and oil engines. Mr. Bellamy, who died at the age of eighty-three, was a director of Ruston and Hornsby, Ltd., since that company was formed, and he had been associated with the Grantham factory for about forty years.

He was born at Laxey in the Isle of Man, and was the second son of the Rev. Joseph Bellamy, the Vicar of Laxey. His father, who was a man of considerable cultural attainments, looked after his son's entire education. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to the firm of Pollock and McNab, of Hyde, near Manchester.

In 1882 he transferred his services to J . E. H . Andrew and Co., of Stockport, which, had just begun to manufacture the Bisschop gas engine. The first British-built Bisschop gas engine was constructed at Stockport in 1879 to 1880 from sketches, and the first complete set of drawings was made by Mr. Bellamy in 1882. The engine built proved extremely satisfactory. Such was the demand, that several thousands were made and the Stockport works enlarged. Mr. Bellamy carried out experiments which were aimed at increasing the power of the Bisschop engine, but it was found impracticable to raise the output beyond 0·5 H.P.

It was the recognition of this strict limit of the Bisschop engine that led Mr. Bellamy to experiment with the two-stroke cycle compression gas engine, designed by Hugh Williams, an engine originally intended for propelling tramcars. Williams was an engineer of great ability, whose work has received but scant recognition. He was always referred to by Mr. Bellamy with admiration, and he deemed him among the pioneers of the two-stroke cycle gas engine.

The first two-stroke gas engine was made in Stockport in 1883 and was employed to drive some of the machinery in the maker's works. Its designed output was 2 H .P . nominal. In 1884 the first engine was delivered. Four years later the works turned out an engine of rather historic importance, an horizontal vis-a-vis two-stroke gas engine of 50 H.P., designed by Hugh Williams, and built by Mr. Bellamy. It is believed to have been the first vis-a-vis engine of two-stroke design ever built. The ignition was by slide and the compression pistons were operated by link motions from the crankshaft. It was erected at the Lyric Theatre, London, and drove an electric generator, and was used for lighting purposes on the occasion of the opening of the theatre.

In 1886 the firm was made into a limited liability company, Mr. Bellamy being appointed secretary and later general manager of the new company. In 1893 he was appointed managing director. He was responsible for the planning and building of the company's new works at Reddish, near Stockport, where Stockport gas engines were constructed in many sizes for several years. The economy of the Stockport two-stroke engine did not prove to be so good as that of the Otto engine, and Mr. Bellamy decided to discontinue the manufacture of the two-stroke cycle engine and to design a new four-stroke engine. On the completion of the new design the works were again enlarged, and a new and efficient foundry was laid down. At these works large numbers of gas engines and suction gas plants were built, some of them amongst the largest made up to that time.

In January, 1906, the amalgamation of the businesses of .J. E . H . Andrew and Co., Ltd., of Stockport, and Richard Hornsby and Sons, of Grantham, took p lace, and Mr. Bellamy became a member of the board of the new company.

After the last war, in 1918, a further amalgamation between Richard Hornsby and Sons, Ltd., and Ruston, Proctor and Co., Ltd., of Lincoln, took place, and the firm of Ruston and Hornsby, Ltd., was founded. Mr. Bellamy was again elected a director of the company, and at a later date he became a director of Ruston-Bucyrus, Ltd.

After the amalgamation of Hornsbys and Andrews in 1906 Mr. Bellamy lived in Grantham, and had always a special interest for the Grantham side of the Ruston and Hornsby undertaking. He was a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a founder and Past-President of the Grantham Engineering Society. He was always interested in technical education and welfare work and did all he could to further technical and craft education in Grantham and the surrounding district. In 1937 the Borough of Grantham I conferred upon him its Honorary Freedom, in recognition of his work as an engineer, administrator, and pioneer in the development of the internal combustion engine, and his great public services. In 1938 he celebrated the completion of his fifty years of service with the firm.

In July 1944, he retired from the board of Ruston and Hornsby, Ltd., but the company still retained his services in a consultative capacity. In assessing the work done by Mr. Bellamy it is impossible to omit mention of his gren.1 courage and technical honesty. He laboured hard to improve the gas engine and had a singularly good knowledge of the very complicated patent position, which, at the time he was most active, hampered those who, like himself, sought to develop the British gas engine industry. Among other things be devoted much attention to the problem of producing cheap power from plant refuse, such as cotton seed husk, &c. During the evolution of the suction gas producer he made many experiments on the technical I requirements of ignition as affecting suction gas. Very early in his career he applied electric ignition to gas engines at a time when tube ignition was almost universally used. He had a quick instinct to detect fallacies, and would energetically take up any new thing which he thought might improve the operation of the gas engine plant. To the very last he took the keenest interest in the industry he had so long and ably several, and his high integrity and unfailing courtesy will long be remembered.

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