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Frood, Herbert (1864–1931), inventor and manufacturer, was born in Balby, Doncaster, Yorkshire, on 7 March 1864, the fourth of the six children of Charles Trefusis Frood (1827–1881), draper's commercial traveller, and his wife, Amelia, née Blackwell (1830–1869). No information about his education survives, but as a boy he enjoyed making wagons and cranes, and his ambition always was to be an engineer. Aged fourteen he was apprenticed to a small firm in ...

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Walter Hancock (1799–1852) by R. Roffe, pubd 1836 (after Charles Hancock) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Hancock, Walter (1799–1852), engineer and inventor of steam carriages, was born on 16 June 1799, the sixth son of James Hancock, a timber merchant and cabinet-maker at Marlborough, Wiltshire. Thomas Hancock (1786–1865), who developed the manufacture of rubber, was his brother. After serving an apprenticeship to a watchmaker and jeweller in ...

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Hickman, Ronald Price [Ron] (1932–2011), inventor and engineer, was born on 21 October 1932 in Greytown, Natal, South Africa, one of five children of Cyril Price Hickman (1899–1958), accountant, and his wife, Hélène Albertina de Villiers, née Neethling (1900–1957), who had been a schoolteacher before her marriage. He attended ...

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Kirk, Alexander Carnegie (1830–1892), mechanical engineer and inventor, was born in the manse of Barry, Forfarshire, on 16 July 1830, the eldest son in the family of three sons and one daughter of John Kirk (d. 1858), minister of Barry, and his wife, ...

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Stirling, Robert (1790–1878), Church of Scotland minister and inventor of a hot-air engine, was born on 25 October 1790 in the parish of Methven, Perthshire, the son of Peter Stirling, farmer at Cloag. He studied at the University of Edinburgh (1805–6) and was licensed to preach by the presbytery of ...

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Whittle, Sir Frank (1907–1996), aeronautical engineer and inventor of the jet engine, was born on 1 June 1907 at 72 Newcombe Road, Earlsdon, Coventry, the eldest of the three children of Moses Whittle (1882–1965), engineer and inventor, and his wife, Sara Alice, née...

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Sir Frank Whittle (1907–1996) by Edward Irvine Halliday, 1960 © Charlotte & Stephen Halliday; photograph: © Crown copyright