Thomas Coughtrie

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Thomas Robb Coughtrie (25 November 1917 – 27 August 2008) was credited by the Times as the inventor of the Mole wrench.[1] However, this conflicts with other references that show the invention of the Vise Grip [2] in Nebraska with an initial patent in 1921 and fuller developments patented in 1924.[3] It could be surmised that M. K. Mole and Son produced their own version (the Mole Grip) based on the existing American Vise Grip. The likeness between the two is clear even from sketch drawings.

He was born in Motherwell, Lanarkshire, Scotland. After his education at Bellshill Academy he qualified as a chartered engineer.

During the Second World War, he was an electrical engineer involved in the maintenance of 1,000 ton 'Whale' floating roadways for Mulberry harbours.

In 1947 he started working for the Birmingham engineering firm 'M. K. Mole and Son', founded in 1835. When the second Mole brother died in 1950 he became managing director of the company. In 1955 he patented the self-grip wrench. In 1960 the Mole company, and Coughtrie, relocated to Newport, South Wales.

Coughtrie received an Honorary Doctorate from Heriot-Watt University in 1968.[4]

He became a director of Cwmbrân New Town, governor of four local technical colleges and, in 1978, deputy lieutenant for Gwent.