Gustavus Green – The Green Engine Company

Gustavus Green (1865-1964), was born to humble parents and had no engineering training. At sixteen he moved to Hastings where he was in turn a jeweler and a hairdresser. In 1897 he moved to Bexhill, living at 5 Western Road – where he established a cycle business, moving later to 35 Reginald Road.

He became interested in the internal combustion engine, taking out his first patent in 1900, and made his first engine without a drawing.

Here he constructed a motor car along with manufacturing all the components. His second car was purchased by Colonel J. E. Capper, superintendent of the balloon factory at Farnborough, who invited Green to design an 80 horse-power airship engine. A 35 horse-power four-cylinder engine appeared in 1908 followed by a 60 horse-power version the following year.

The Green Motor Patents Syndicate was formed to exploit his patents, which became a limited company in 1906. It manufactured small stationary engines and motorcycles until the First World War. As for his aero engine, he stated that “There was no trouble about selling it, orders poured in at £275 a time”.

For the five years before the First World War Green engines were the most successful British aero-engines, powering seven Michelin Trophy winners. Marine versions of all these engines were produced and in 1912 Fred May, an advocate of racing motor boats, acquired the assets of the syndicate to form the Green Engine Company Ltd, with Green as technical director and a minority shareholder. The company acquired new premises at Edwin Road, Twickenham, in 1914 – and here Greens built engines for Thorneycroft Coastal Motor Boats. After the war the company continued to produce marine versions of its pre-war aero-engines until it was wound up in 1930.

He retired in 1925 and devoted the rest of his life to the intricacies of clock making, crafting the cases as well as the mechanisms. His favourite decorative case was fashioned from an apple tree grown in his garden that was cut down by his grandson.

In old age, he still retained his bright blue eyes, slim figure and moustache with turned up ends which had characterized him throughout his life. He died at the age of ninety-nine on 29 December 1964 at his house, 97 Strawberry Vale, in Twickenham.

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