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Some Doxford Employee's Recollections

As told by John Jordan

1911 – Charles Doxford along with Otto Keller produced an experimental single opposed piston engine. This was assembled in the test house at the top of the works near to Pallion Road , (which later became the Pattern Shop). This engine over ran due to a governor malfunction, the fly wheel then came off and ended up somewhere in Pallion, no one was hurt. This engine was abandoned after one month's trials.

Another person of note was William Kerr Wilson, who had two brothers Larry who taught Heat Engines at Technical College, and Frank who was equally as bright but who was quite happy being employed as a toilet cleaner at the Pallion Shipyard, with is own little office. Frank outlived both brothers by many years and spent most of his working life reading books that he liked in his own domain.

Albert Hardy told William Kerr Wilson on leaving Doxfords Engines, that he had no ambition. He later became Professor Wilson, and was one of the world's specialists in axial and torsional vibration.

1930's – In the nineteen thirties, a back to back Doxford Engine was produced of a very small bore for Henry Ford's yacht. It continued to operate for many years. I think the bow section is all that remains.

1940's – Engines of 280, 400 and 440mm bore were produced; one such engine was fitted into a Lord Line trawler, this was one of the largest Trawlers in the UK at the time. It was decided that as the engine was such a large machine for a trawler that the chief engineer should have a Certificate; this was quite unknown amongst the Trawler fleet.

1950's – In the good old day's the then Technical Director; called Albert Hardy ruled the drawing office with a rod of iron. A draughtsman called Ernest Farley would cycle home each day for lunch. One hot summer's day he returned to work minus his tie. Around 3pm Mr Hardy would do his rounds of the drawing office, arriving at Ernest's drawing board he noticed the missing tie, he was immediately sent home to get it, which took almost an hour. No tea breaks in those days. However Mr Hardy was a most sociable person during time off. One Wednesday afternoon (this was when shops would close for half a day) Mr. Hardy took a half days holiday to go and see Sunderland play football. During the match he noticed one of his draughtsmen standing a few feet in front of him. The next day he confronted the person in question about his day off work. The draughtsmen stated that he had been ill. He was promptly sacked on the spot. (No messing in those days).

1962 – When Mr Frank Butler was employed as Mr Percy Jackson's assistant or Chief Engineer, they did not always see eye to eye. If a job was underway for Percy and Frank came into the office he would immediately stop any work on it, so that his job could be done. Then when Percy came into office his job was quickly changed too. They both must have thought the designer to be terribly slow. This went on till Percy retired in 1965.

Percy Jackson was quite a humorous person, he would look at a drawing that was very nearly complete, producing a Biro pen he would then proceed to make free hand changes to the system. This would completely ruin the large AO size drawing, which had taken some weeks to complete. Eventually one draughtsman plucked up the courage to inform him of the errors of his ways, this did not go down well at all. In his own particular sense of humour Percy asked if he had ever had a pay reduction for rubbing out or re-drawing. The draughtsman replied that he had not. Percy smiled and said “there you are then” just tell me when the changes are complete.

1968 – When Percy Jackson retired Brian Taylor became Frank Butler's assistant. He too was out of the same mould as Percy. Some calculations where required for some side connecting rod bolts stresses. Brian who had previously produced some work for BSRA, regarding the process to follow when calculating side rod stresses. The designer thinking it would be a good idea to use Brian's methodology to complete the calculations. On completion they were proudly presented but was surprised to be asked how he had done them. When told, Brian stated that his method could not be relied upon, as he had been quite a young man when he produced that particular paper for BSRA.


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