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British Industrial History

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John Vernon Pugh

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John Vernon Pugh (1872-1936) of Rudge-Whitworth

c.1873 Born Birmingham, son of Charles Henry Pugh

1898 Joined the Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Developed a design of wheel which was used for cars made by the Rudge-Whitworth Co

1900 Director Lanchester Engine Co

1908 Patented a detachable wheel, the subject of several court cases with the Riley Cycle Co, which Pugh eventually lost on appeal to the House of Lords[1]

1910 Of the Coventry and Warwickshire Motor Club. Biographical information and image at Automotor Journal 19101022

1936 Died in Folkestone

1936 Obituary [2]

JOHN VERNON PUGH was connected for the whole of his career with the cycle and motor cycle industries.

His father, Mr. Charles H. Pugh, M.I.Mech.E., founded the Whitworth Cycle Company, which became a limited liability company in 1893. In that year Mr. John Pugh, having completed his technical education at Mason's College (now the University of Birmingham), became works manager in his father's firm. A year later the company amalgamated with Messrs. Rudge, the new firm being known as Messrs. Rudge-Whitworth, Ltd. Mr. Pugh was appointed general works manager with control of the Coventry and Birmingham factories, and was made works director in 1899. He became joint managing director in 1920, and chairman and sole managing director of the company in 1923.

Mr. Pugh was responsible for many notable developments, including the Rudge-Whitworth Laboratory for chemical and physical research, which he established in 1902.

He brought out the Pugh-Lanchester radiator for motor cars, in conjunction with Dr. F. W. Lanchester, in 1903, and a year later he invented a special automatic machine for making bicycle wheel rims. In addition he invented, in 1906, the first detachable wheel for motor-cars.

He was keenly interested in the development of racing motor cycles, particularly in connexion with the Tourist Trophy and with Continental events. In 1933-4 he was president of the British Cycle and Motor-Cycle Manufacturers' Union.

He retired in 1934 and lived at Folkestone, where his death occurred on 18th January 1936.

He was elected an Associate Member of the Institution in 1899 and was transferred to Membership in 1910.

1935/36 Obituary [3]

John Vernon Pugh was born in 1872, and underwent a three years' course at Mason's Science College (now Birmingham University), obtaining a Senior Engineering Diploma.

He then became Works Manager of The Whitworth Cycle Co., and later, Works Director of Rudge-Whitworth, Ltd., and also a Director of The Lanchester Motor Co., Ltd., and C. H. Pugh, Ltd. He retained his connexion with Rudge-Whitworth, Ltd., until 1934, when he retired from active participation in the Industry. He was responsible for many innovations, including the now universal detachable wheel.

He died on January 18th, 1936, at the age of 63.

He was elected a Member in 0908.

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