1945-46: Frank George Woollard

1945-46: Frank George Woollard

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Biography 1959 Obituary:
Woollard was born on 22nd September 1883. He was the last President of the Institution of Automobile Engineers and the first Chairman of the Automobile Division when the amalgamation of the two Institutions was effected in 1947. He took a leading part in all the details of that amalgamation.

He was educated at the City of London School and at Goldsmith and Birkbeck Colleges. From 1900 to 1905 he served his apprenticeship with the Chief Mechanical Engineer of the London and South Western Railway at Eastleigh where he played a part in the design of the famous Clarkson steam omnibus. This caused him to transfer his activities to the motor vehicle field and he achieved a wide experience of activities associated with the design and manufacture of transport vehicles.

First he joined the design staff of Weigel Motors, Ltd., well known in motor racing circles in the middle of the first decade of this century; from that company he went as Chief Draughtsman to E. G. Wrigley and Co., Ltd., of Birmingham, subsequently becoming Chief Engineer and then, from 1910 to 1922, Assistant Managing Director.

During that period he developed the continuous production or flow-line method of machining automobile components, putting into production under sub-contract from Lord Nuffield, then Mr. W. R. Morris, the front and rear axles and the gearboxes for the first 'bull nose' Cowley motor car which went into serial production.

Later he was appointed by Lord Nuffield to take over the engine factory of Hotchkiss et Cie at Coventry, in 1923 becoming Director and General Manager of the Engines Branch of Morris Motors, Ltd., Coventry, where Lord Nuffield gave him every encouragement to develop the continuous production method. As a consequence of this the Morris Engine Works became an outstanding example of the mass production system in Britain.

In 1932 he became Managing Director of Rudge-Whitworth, Ltd., and then in 1936 he joined the Birmid Industries Group as a Director of Birmingham Aluminium Casting (1903) Co., Ltd., and the Midland Motor Cylinder Co., Ltd., where he remained until his retirement in 1953.

Frank Woollard made many contributions to the technical literature and, in 1954, his chief written work `Principles of Mass and Flow Production' was published, in which he outlined the possibilities of the automatic factory.

During his retirement he displayed a vigorous interest and played an active part in education for industrial administration at the University of Birmingham and at the College of Technology, Birmingham.

He was first elected a Member of the Institution of Automobile Engineers in 1915 and was also a Member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (U.S.A.). He was a Past-Chairman of the Aluminium Development Association and of the Zinc Alloy Die Casters Association. He became a Member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1947 and served on the Council in his capacity as Chairman of the Automobile Division.

His death occurred in Birmingham on 22nd December 1957 at the age of 74.

Frank Woollard was a man who endeared himself to his many professional associates, many of whom became his firm personal friends. It may truly be said of him that he was one of the fathers of the British motor industry, and that he pioneered the introduction or flow production in Britain and became recognized as a world authority on automation.