Alex Moulton

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Alex Moulton

Born
Alexander Eric Moulton

(1920-04-09)9 April 1920
Died9 December 2012(2012-12-09) (aged 92)
EducationMarlborough College
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge (BA)
OccupationEngineer
Engineering career
Employer(s)Bristol Aeroplane Company
Moulton Bicycle
ProjectsMoulton Bicycle
Hydrolastic
AwardsQueen's Award for Technical Innovation (1967)

Alexander Eric Moulton CBE FREng (9 April 1920 – 9 December 2012)[1] was an English engineer and inventor, specialising in suspension design.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8]

A 1965/66 Moulton "New Look" Standard M1 bicycle

Early life and education[edit]

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.

Moulton was educated at Marlborough College and the University of Cambridge[1] where he was an undergraduate at King's College, Cambridge.[9]

Career[edit]

During World War II he worked on engine design at the Bristol Aeroplane Company.[1] 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.[10]

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.[10] Moulton also designed "Flexitor" rubber springs for the 1958 Austin Gipsy, an off-road vehicle.[citation needed]

After the family business was acquired by the Avon Rubber Company in 1956,[11] 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.[10] 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.[9]

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.[12]

Awards and honours[edit]

Moulton was appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) in the 1976 New Year Honours for services to industry. Other honours include:

Legacy[edit]

Under Moulton's will, the Grade I listed Hall – along with investments, land, outbuildings and cottages – was gifted to a charitable trust.[15] In 2020 the trust was reorganised as a charitable incorporated organisation, the Alex Moulton Charitable Trust,[16] which continues to preserve and maintain the Hall and its collections, and promote engineering and design.[15]

The Moulton Bicycle name has undergone several changes of ownership. Since 2008 the name has been used by a privately held company[17] which has a small modern factory just east of the Hall.

Personal life[edit]

Moulton lived at The Hall, Bradford-on-Avon a 17th-century mansion. He was a member of Brooks's gentlemen's club in London.[1]

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.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e 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.)
  2. ^ "ALEX MOULTON". moultontrust.org.
  3. ^ Weber, Bruce (18 December 2012). "Alex Moulton, Creator of Quirky Small-Wheeled Bike, Dies at 92". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  4. ^ Nahum, Andrew (2012). "Alex Moulton obituary". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  5. ^ Anon (2012). "Alex Moulton Obituary". telegraph.co.uk. London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  6. ^ "Dr Alex Moulton CBE 1920 – 2012". alexmoulton.co.uk. Archived from the original on 25 November 2003. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Dr Alex Moulton Dies". bikeradar.com. 10 December 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  8. ^ Moulton, Alexander (2012). From Bristol to Bradford on Avon: A Lifetime in Engineering. The Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust. p. 320. ISBN 9781872922393. OCLC 959551036.
  9. ^ a b 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.
  10. ^ a b c "ALEX MOULTON". mgfcar.de. MiniWorld. Retrieved 8 March 2006.
  11. ^ "George Spencer, Moulton and Co". Graces Guide. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  12. ^ "Moulton Bicycles". Graces Guide. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  13. ^ "Loughborough University Honorary Degree Oration presenting Dr. Moulton the degree of Doctor of Technology, July 2006". lboro.ac.uk.
  14. ^ "The Sir Misha Black Medal". Misha Black Awards. Archived from the original on 29 December 2016. Retrieved 29 April 2014.
  15. ^ a b "The Alex Moulton Charitable Trust: Accounts and Trustees' Report". Charity Commission. 31 December 2020. p. 1. Retrieved 7 May 2022.
  16. ^ "The Alex Moulton Charitable Trust, registered charity no. 5151483". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
  17. ^ "The Moulton Bicycle Company Limited". Companies House. Retrieved 7 May 2022.