Lanchester Timeline


Fred Born

Frederick born on 23rd October, 1868 in Lewisham Road, Lewisham, near London. Fred was the fourth child of nine.


Frank Born. Family move.

Frank born 22nd July. The whole Lanchester family moved into 1, St John’s Terrace (now 49 Church Road), Hove, East Sussex.


George born.

George born 11th Dec 1874


Fred started prep school

Fred attended Oxford House preparatory school in Eaton Place, Brighton


Began work on flight

Moved again, this time to St Bernard’s Road, Hove, where Fred began work on heavier-than-air flying machines


Fred moved school

Fred attended Walkers School, London


Southampton University

Fred started at the Hartley Institute, which is now part of Southampton University, at the age of fourteen.


Fred: Normal School of Science

Fred won a national scholarship to the Normal School of Science in South Kensington, London (later known as the Royal College of Science and now part of Imperial College). Fred left before his final exams with no formal qualifications


Family move.

The family move to 7 Balham Grove, London.


Took evening classes in engineering

Fred attended evening classes in mechanical engineering at Finsbury Technical College, London


Fred start works

Fred started his first job, as a draughtsman in a Patent Office

Fred’s 1st patent

Fred has his 1st patented invention accepted, for an Isometrograph (an instrument to draw parallel lines); hundreds more to follow.


Moves, Patents.Works Man. Syndicate. App.

Fred moves to Birmingham to start as Assistant Works Manager at the Forward Gas Engine Company, Saltley, Birmingham. He is later joined at the firm by his brother George, who becomes an apprentice. Fred creates syndicate leading to Lanchester Engine Co. Fred applies for 7 patents.



Fred later becomes Works Manager of Forward Co. Fred applies for 6 patents.

early interest in flight

Fred became fascinated by gliders. He would launch models he built from the first floor window of his home to record and analyse their line of flight


flight developments

Fred’s work with the Forward Gas Engine Company took him to the USA. On his transatlantic voyage he observed birds flying and gliding, which fed and developed his theories on flight.


Created Car. Cycle.

Fred resigns from the Forward Gas Engine Company to concentrate on his own work and is replaced by George (but retains the post of Designer & Technical Adviser). Fred begins developing motor vehicles. Fred, George and Frank start The Lanchester Brothers bicycle company, manufacturing bicycle parts. The business was not viable and closed in 1894.


1st all-British Motor Boat

Fred designed & built the first all-British motor boat, which he piloted on the River Thames at Oxford

Principles of flight

Fred works on the fundamentals of flight Fred gave his first paper – ‘The Soaring of Birds and possibilities of Mechanical Flight’, which recorded his early observations, experiments and theories on flight.


1st all-British motor car.

Frank joins his brothers at the Forward Gas Engine Co. Fred patents aspects connected to the invention of colour photgraphy. In December he drove the first all-British 4-wheel motor car on a public road in Taylor Street, Saltley, Birmingham


Road tested the Phaeton for the first time

The Lanchester brothers road tested the Stanhope Phaeton motorcar for the first time


2 planes patented

George resigns from Forward to work for Fred. Fred patented invention of 2 different types of aeroplane, to include many profound features- elliptical wings, contra props, wing plates. Invents 1st accelerator pedal on cars.


Rack & Pinion Steering. Boat.

By end of the decade Fred has applied for patents on 111 inventions, including one for ‘rack & pinion’ steering in 1898. Fred’s 2nd boat launched.


Lanch Engine Co formed

The brothers form the Lanchester Engine Company, developing motor cars incorporating Fred’s designs. Frank qualifies as Car Demonstrator.


Frank Sec of Lanch Co.

Frank appointed Secretary of Lanchester Engine Company.


1st production car

The first production Lanchester car was built: the 10hp.


World’s 1st Outboard engine.

Fred patents 4-wheel drive, turbo-chargeing of car engines, the disc brake, power steering, and also the world’s 1st outboard boat engine. Frank is a founding member of the newly registered Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).


Stream-line. Abduct PC. Race.

Frank competed in the inaugural Phoenix Park Time Trials in Dublin. Fred abducts a policeman, who has damaged car in trying to challenge Fred about his speeding, and drives him from Birmingham to the Cotswolds. Fred invents the word ‘stream-line’.

Crystal Palace film

Lanchester test driver Archie Millership famously drove the 10hp car up the steps in front of the Crystal Palace, to demonstrate low gearing.


motoring film

The Lanchester Engine Company filed for bankruptcy and was reformed as The Lanchester Motor Company. George then headed the company, Frank directed sales and Fred was the principal designer and engineer.


Lanchester Motor Company’s first production was launched; the four-cylinder 20hp.

Lanchester Motor Company’s first production car was launched; the four-cylinder 20hp.

Began Racing

The Lanchester 10hp was the 1st car to drive up Shelsley Walsh Hill Climb in Worcestershire.


Driving goggles

George patents his invention of driving goggles – the only remaining set are in Lanchester Collection.


1st principles of flight. Aerodynamics

Fred published his profound book ‘Aerodynamics’, which detailed his analyses and theories on flight.



Fred published ‘Aerodonetics’, his second book on flight, which together with ‘Aerodynamics’ became volumes 1 and 2 of ‘Aerial Flight’. Fred receives the Bronze Medal award for his paper at the Aeronautical Society.


Fred joined govt committee on aeornautics

Fred is appointed founder member of the British Government’s Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

Omnibus. Fred at BSA, Daimler

Fred was appointed consultant to Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA). Fred invented monocoque construction (where the chassis is integral with the body) and 4-wheel brakes on commercial vehicles. Developed first omnibus with forward-facing seats. Improved car engine balancing by means of crankshaft vibration damper.

Fred: founder Aero Committe.

Fred resigns as Chief Designer of Lanchester Motor Company but remains technical consultant – George is now the chief designer.


President IAE

Fred became the President of the Institution of Automobile Engineers

Fred designs ali-clad aeroplane

Fred designs an aluminium-clad aircraft but it crashes on bumpy beach..


Starter motor.

Lanchester cars become the 1st in Europe with electric starter motors.


Sport 40hp.

George designs the Sport 40hp.


1st World War. Aircraft in Warfare.

The First World War begins. Fred resigns from Lanch Motor Company. Fred publishes ‘Aircraft in Warfare’ in instalments of international magazine.


Armoured cars

Lanchester Motor Company designed and manufactured armoured cars for the Ministry of Defence. They were sent to Belgium, used to rescue pilots after the battle of Ypres and later used on airfields in Britain. The company also produced staff cars, trucks and over 450 aero-engines for use in the war effort.

Air Inventions Committee

Fred became a member of the Air Inventions Committee of the Admiralty Board of Invention and Research.


Fred – JIE

Fred became the President of the Junior Institution of Engineers, now the Institute of Engineers and Technology

Aircraft in Warfare book published

Fred published his controversial paper ‘Aircraft in Warfare; the dawn of the fourth arm’, which calculated the power of air attacks in war. It was used in many countries and later converted into a business strategy, and is still in use as such today.



Fred was granted fellowship of the Royal Aeronautical Society.


Bodies. 40hp. Susp.

Lanchester cars featured welded aluminium joints for the first time in assembled body panels. Duralium body frames were adopted. The 40hp engine was successful in racing cars. Many famous people, including the King, Maharajas, Sultan, and Emperor purchased 40hp cars, which featured 6.2 litre engines. Fred patented Hydro-pneumatic suspension.

Hon Dr.

Fred was granted an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Laws by the University of Birmingham. It was his first formal qualification. Friends later referred to him as ‘Doctor Fred’.

Fred marries

Fred married Dorothea Cooper (1898 – 1978), the niece of his voice tutor.

Motor Exibition

The Lanchester 40hp car was launched at the Motor Exhibition in London.


Advisory Com of Aero.

Fred resigns from Government Advisory Committee on Aeronautics.


Began Exporting Cars

Fred publishes his theories in response to Einstein’s 1915 Theory of Relativity. Lanchesters became first British company to export cars


Fuel injection. Wooden car.

Fred build his Mark Three wooden car, the engine complete with a form of petrol injection. Fred patents basic form of fuel injection.


40hp World records. Wolseley

The Lanchester 40hp chassis used for racing purposes won 47 world records at Brooklands. Fred becomes a consultant to Wolseley.

Dyott End

Fred designed and built a house (Dyott End) for himself and Dorothea in Moseley, Birmingham, where they lived for the rest of their lives.

40hp Maharajas

The 40hp Lanchester car was bought and used by the Maharajas of Nawanagar, Newa, Rajkot and Kolapur, as well as being used to drive the Prince of Wales in 1923 and the Duke of York in 1925. It was acclaimed at the time as being ‘the most completely equipped and luxurious of carriages in the world’.


Lanchester’s Laboratories Ltd.

Fred formed a new venture called Lanchester Laboratories Ltd, in partnership with Daimler. The company later produced sound equipment including speakers and radios designed by Fred, which were available by mail order. The Lanchester Company was the 1st European company to use cellulose paint.



Fred resigns his other motor copany consultancies to work solely with Daimler.

Princess Elizabeth

Princess Elizabeth, the future Queen, made her first public appearance – in a Lanchester 40hp limousine, one of three bought by her father, the future King George VI.

Honorary RAS

Fred was appointed as an honorary fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society


Armoured Cars

Lanchester was the first company to build purpose-designed armoured cars, rather than using lorry chassis. These were later used in World War Two.



Fred leaves Daimler at Radford, Coventry after 20 years employment there.


Wall Street crash

The Wall Street Crash was the greatest stock market crash in the history of the USA and led to the Great Depression. Its catastrophic effects were felt in Britain; industry declined, unemployment and deprivation soared.


Frank MD.

Frank become MD in Dec 1930

eyesight failing

Fred began experiments on eyesight, working with Robert Lockhart, Professor of Anatomy at the University of Birmingham (later Aberdeen).


BSA buy out

Lanchester Motor Company was bought out by Birmingham Small Arms Ltd and managed by another BSA firm Daimler to save it from liquidation. It relocates to Daimler factory in Radford, Coventry. George Lanchester stays Chief Engineer. Frank transfers to London Sales Department.

Labs. Stratton.

Frank becomes Director of Stratton-Instone. George joins Fred at Lanchester Laboritories Company.


Vision. Expansion Universe

Fred suffers failing health. Lanchester Laboritories Company closes due to the recession. Fred published his theories on ‘vision’. Publishes his theories on ‘Expansion of the Universe’.


Poetry and Verse

Fred published ‘Lakeland Story’ under his pseudonym of Paul Netherton-Herries. Fred published his theories on Relativity


George leaves Lanchester

George leaves Lanchester Motor Company and joins Alvis Company at Holyhead Road, Coventry, to design cars and military vehicles.



Fred was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a progessive neurological condition that effects movement.


Spitfire wings

The Supermarine Spitfire was launched, a British single-seat fighter aircraft used by the Royal Air Force during the Second World War. The aircraft included features similar to earlier patented inventions by Fred Lanchester, including a semi-elliptical wing shape.


revised flight

Fred revisited his earlier theories on flight and published revised papers on friction in aeronautics.

The King’s cars

HM King George VI orders two replacement Straight-8, 4.6 litre Lanchester limousines for his personal use.


Outbreak of the Second World War.


Musical Scale

Fred published his ‘Musical Scale’.


Fred was appointed as a consultant to the Society of British Aircraft Constructors.


Lanchester Carbide

George designed and manufactured the Lanchester Sub-Machine Gun; used by British and other navies.


atomic bomb

Fred published work on the atomic bomb


Fred Dies

Fred died on 8 March following 2 strokes. His ashes were buried with his parents’ in West Sussex.


HM Queen

HM the Queen orders a Lanchester 14hp saloon for her own use.


Last Lanchester car

The last Lanchester car is built, at Radford in Coventry. Lanchester Motor Company remains a dormant company.


Frank dies.

Frank dies.


George dies

George dies