Alexander Eric Moulton
9 April 1920
|Died||9 December 2012 (aged 92)|
|Alma mater||University of Cambridge (BA)|
|Employer(s)||Bristol Aeroplane Company|
|Awards||Queen's Award for Technical Innovation (1967)|
Early life and education
Moulton's father, John Coney Moulton, was a naturalist working in the Far East. Alex Moulton was the great-grandson of the rubber pioneer Stephen Moulton, the founder of the family business George Spencer Moulton & Co. Ltd, based at Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire.
During World War II he worked on engine design at the Bristol Aeroplane Company. After the war he joined the family company, which made rubber components such as suspension parts for railway carriages; he turned it towards rubber suspension systems for road vehicles.
In the mid 1950s, Moulton developed an experimental rubber suspension which was tested on a Morris Minor. His friend Alec Issigonis heard of this work and together they designed a fluid and rubber suspension for a new Alvis car, which did not reach production. Moulton also designed "Flexitor" rubber springs for the 1958 Austin Gipsy, an off-road vehicle.
After the family business was acquired by the Avon Rubber Company in 1956, Moulton established Moulton Developments Limited to design the suspension system for British Motor Corporation's new small car, the Mini, that was being designed by Issigonis. The combination of conical rubber springs and small wheels was one of the many innovative developments that allowed Issigonis to achieve the Mini's small overall size. This was later refined into the hydrolastic and hydragas suspension systems used on later British Leyland cars such as the Austin Maxi, Austin Allegro, Princess and Rover Metro, and later on Rover Group's MG F sports car.
Moulton also designed the Moulton bicycle, launched in 1962, again using rubber suspension and small wheels. A factory was built at Bradford-on-Avon, and Moulton Bicycles Ltd soon became the second-largest frame builder in the country.
Awards and honours
- The Diploma di Medaglia d'Oro, Milan in 1964
- Queen's Award for Technical Innovation 1967
- Awarded Honorary degrees from the Royal College of Art (1967), University of Bath (1971), Cranfield University (1994) and Loughborough University (2006)
- Elected to the faculty of Royal Designers for Industry (1968), serving as master of the faculty from 1981 to 1983
- Elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering (FREng) in 1980
- Served as Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Engineering from 1985 to 1988
- He has an entry in the Golden Book of Cycling, which he signed when he was 71
- In 1997 he was awarded the Misha Black award and was added to the College of Medallists
Under Moulton's will, the Grade I listed Hall – along with investments, land, outbuildings and cottages – was gifted to a charitable trust. In 2020 the trust was reorganised as a charitable incorporated organisation, the Alex Moulton Charitable Trust, which continues to preserve and maintain the Hall and its collections, and promote engineering and design.
The Moulton Bicycle name has undergone several changes of ownership. Since 2008 the name has been used by a privately held company which has a small modern factory just east of the Hall.
Moulton died on 9 December 2012 at the Royal United Hospital in Bath. His funeral, which was attended by 'Moultoneers' from all over the world, took place at Holy Trinity Church, Bradford-on-Avon on 19 December, after which he was interred in the family grave at Christ Church, Bradford-on-Avon in the same town beside his great-grandfather, Stephen Moulton, who founded the Moulton dynasty in the Wiltshire town in 1848.
- Anon (2016). "Moulton, Alexander Eric". Who's Who. ukwhoswho.com (online Oxford University Press ed.). A & C Black, an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing plc. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U28352. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- "ALEX MOULTON". moultontrust.org.
- Weber, Bruce (18 December 2012). "Alex Moulton, Creator of Quirky Small-Wheeled Bike, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
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- "Dr Alex Moulton Dies". bikeradar.com. 10 December 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
- Moulton, Alexander (2012). From Bristol to Bradford on Avon: A Lifetime in Engineering. The Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust. p. 320. ISBN 9781872922393. OCLC 959551036.
- Farrell, Dan (2020). "Alumni Profile: Dr Alex Moulton CBE – A Man of Conviction". eng.cam.ac.uk. University of Cambridge. Archived from the original on 22 September 2020.
- "ALEX MOULTON". mgfcar.de. MiniWorld. Retrieved 8 March 2006.
- "George Spencer, Moulton and Co". Graces Guide. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
- "Moulton Bicycles". Graces Guide. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
- "Loughborough University Honorary Degree Oration presenting Dr. Moulton the degree of Doctor of Technology, July 2006". lboro.ac.uk.
- "The Sir Misha Black Medal". Misha Black Awards. Archived from the original on 29 December 2016. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
- "The Alex Moulton Charitable Trust: Accounts and Trustees' Report". Charity Commission. 31 December 2020. p. 1. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
- "The Alex Moulton Charitable Trust, registered charity no. 5151483". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
- "The Moulton Bicycle Company Limited". Companies House. Retrieved 7 May 2022.