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British Industrial History

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Arthur John Rowledge

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Arthur John Rowledge (1876–1957) of Rolls-Royce.

English engineer who designed the Napier Lion aero engine and was a key figure in the development of the Rolls-Royce Merlin.

1876 Born in Peterborough, Northamptonshire the son of John and Ann Rowledge

1881 Living at 47 Gladstone Street, Peterborough (age 4 born Peterborough). With his parents John Abbot Rowledge (age 35 born Fruston, Lincs), Bricklayer and Ann (age 31 born Whaplode, Lincs). Also his siblings Herbert George (age 10) and Thomas S.(age 8) and his uncle George Stainsley (age 20? born Whaplode Drove, Lincs), Bricklayer. [1]

1891 Living at 118 Gladstone Street, Peterborough (age 14 born Peterborough), an Apprentice to Engineer's Draughtsman. With his parents John Abbott Rowledge (age 45 born Forestone, Lincs), Bricklayer and Ann (age 41 born Whaplode Drove, Lincs). Also his siblings Herbert George (age 20), Thomas Stainsby (age 18) and Sarah Jane (age 17); and his grand-mother Sarah Rowledge (age 72), a Widow, and his aunt Mary Stainsby (age 37). [2]

1901 Living as a boarder at Rose Hill Villas, Bexley Road, Erith (age 24 born Northamptonshire), a Mechanical Draughtsman. In the home of James McGrouther and his family. [3]

1913 Arthur Rowledge joined D. Napier and Son as Chief Designer. Designed car engines and the Napier Lion aero engine

1921 Joined Rolls-Royce, where he became known as 'Rg' in company shorthand. He is credited with designing the Condor III, Kestrel and the Rolls-Royce R racing engine, that was used with great success at the 1929 and 1931 Schneider Trophy races.

Development work on the Merlin engine was one of his last contributions to aero engine design along with responsibility for the Exe and Pennine projects

1945 He retired from Rolls-Royce at the age of 70

1957 December 11th. Rowledge died aged 81

1957 Obituary.[4]

'Arthur John Rowledge, MBE, FRS, formerly consultant engineer to Rolls-Royce Ltd and a designer of aero-engines, died at Derby yesterday at the age of 81. He was appointed MBE for his work on Napier Lion engines during the war 1914-18. In 1921 he joined Rolls-Royce as chief aero design engineer. He was responsible for the design of the Condor III, the Kestrel and the 'R' engines, and in 1931 he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Institute of Automobile Engineers for his contributions to victory in the Schneider Trophy races. His engines then held the land speed record also. In the following year he was awarded the Simms Gold Medal by the same Institution for his work on internal combustion engines in high-speed aircraft. He became a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1941, and retired from Rolls-Royce in 1945.'

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1881 Census
  2. 1881 Census
  3. 1901 Census
  4. The Times, Saturday, Dec 14, 1957