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Alan Chorlton

(1874 - 1946)

Alan Ernest Leofric Chorlton was born 24 February 1874, the son of Thomas Chorlton of Audenshaw, Lancashire. He was educated privately and at the Mechanical Engineering department of Manchester Technical School. He served an apprenticeship at Mather and Platt's ironworks in Salford, while studying part time at Victoria University, Manchester.

In 1898 he was sent as a consulting engineer to Hubbard Textile Printing Works, St Petersburg, Russia, which was at the time the largest textile printing works in the world. He was then employed to implement the changes recommended, resulting in a fuel economy of 30%, as well as greater reliability. He returned to Mather and Platt's where he rose to become general works manager and was largely responsible for redesigning the Mather-Reynolds pump manufactured at the plant.

In 1913, he left to join Ruston and Hornsby Ltd., of Lincoln, taking a prominent part during the First World War in the extension of their activities. During the war, he was appointed Deputy Controller of Aero Engines at the Ministry of Munitions under Percy Martin. In 1917 he was awarded a Telford Premium medal by the Institute of Civil Engineers, and was made a Commander of the British Empire for his wartime services. He was also awarded the Cross of an Officer of the Order of the Crown of Italy.

He joined William Beardmore and Co., Ltd, of Dalmuir, Dumbartonshire, in May 1918 and by 1919 had commenced on experimental engine design at Coatbridge, this later transferring to Parkhead. There, Chorlton was responsible for the design of Beardmore engines from the Cyclone to the Tornado.

By 1924 he had become Aircraft Manager of the company but, by the late 1920s, Beardmore was no longer in a financial position to develop Chorlton’s newer designs and he left the company in March, 1929. The Aircraft Department had closed the previous month and Chorlton joined with ex Beardmore employees H.J. Steiger and Rollo de Haga Haig in forming the Mono-Spar Co., Ltd. (later the Monospar Wing Company) in June 1929, for the development and exploitation of a new wing system developed by Steiger.

Chorlton had been elected an Associate Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society on September 5 1917, and was then upgraded to Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society on May 15 1929, but by this time his interests had moved to politics. That same year he was nominated as Conservative candidate for the parliamentary constituency of Manchester Platting and, although unsuccessful on that occasion, two years later he was elected as Platting's Member of Parliament. He was elected President of the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in 1933.

Meanwhile, on 4 March 1931, the Monospar Wing Company was re-constituted as General Aircraft Ltd., Chorlton becoming a director of the new company, but by the end of 1934 he had resigned his post and left engineering entirely.

At the 1935 election, Chorlton was elected MP for Bury. In 1939 he announced he would not be standing for parliament again. He remained Bury's Member of Parliament until he stood down at the next election in 1945, which was delayed due to the Second World War.

Alan Ernest Leofric Chorlton C.B.E., M.Inst.C.E., M.I.Mech.E., M.I.E.E., retired from politics in 1945 and died on 6 October 1946.

Biography References

  1. Beardmore Aviation 1913-1930, Charles MacKay (A. MacKay, 2012)
  2. Who's Who of British Members of Parliament, M. Stenton and S. Lees, Volume III: 1919-1945, (Harvester Press, 1979)

V1.3.0 Created by Roger Moss. Last updated February 2017