Frederick Richard Simms - Ranelagh Gardens, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 28.059 W 000° 12.538
30U E 693853 N 5705526
Quick Description: This blue plaque, to Frederick Richard Simms, is on the south side of Ranelagh Gardens and on the west face of the railway bridge that carries the underground across the River Thames.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 4/11/2014 10:45:53 AM
Waymark Code: WMKG8Y
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bill&ben
Views: 1

Long Description:

The plaque reads as follows (the first line runs around the edge of the plaque):

Father of the British Motor Industry

this arch
was situated
the first workshop
Frederick Richard
1863 - 1944

The Grace's Guide website tells us about Frederick Simms:

Frederick Richard Simms, (1863–1944), mechanical engineer and businessman.

1863 August 12th. Born in Hamburg (where his grandfather, originally from Birmingham, had established a business), the son of Frederick Louis Simms and his wife, Antonia, née Herman.

Simms was educated in Germany and London and also attended the Polytechnisches Verein in Berlin after serving his apprenticeship with the AG für Automatischen Verkauf in Hamburg and Berlin.

His first business was marketing an overhead passenger cableway with a partner from Blackpool called Stansfield. They did manage to install one at the Crystal Palace in 1891.

1889 A key event was his meeting with Gottlieb Daimler (then aged 54) when Simms was superintending the erection of an aerial cableway of his own design at the Bremen Exhibition.

1891 In February he writes to his lawyer Alfred Hendriks that he has decided to start a department for petrol motor boats and cars. Later in the month he was appointed the sole English agent for the Daimler patents. Daimler consigned him engine No 164, a 1 hp type.

1891 In mid-May he sent his mechanic Johann van Toll to England to look after his first motor boat called 'Cannstatt' fitted with a 2 hp motor.

1891 In June he secured a base for the Daimler agency in London at Billiter Buildings in 49 Leadenhall Street, London and set up Simms and Co consulting engineers with Hendriks.

1892 In August Evelyn Ellis had a trial in the motor launch and soon after ordered one. This was delivered late in October and fitted with 10 hp marine engine No 471.

1893 Simms discovered that his partner Hendriks has defrauded his business of sizable sums of money and he severed his connection with him. Later it was discovered that Hendriks had a series of court judgements against him.

1893 Simms negotiated a new contract for the patent rights for Daimler engines in 'England and the colonies' and founded the Daimler Motor Syndicate.

1895 He sold to the financier Harry Lawson. This proved to be Lawson's most significant acquisition and led to the foundation of the British motor industry, in the shape of the Daimler works at Coventry Motor Mills. Their subsequent collaboration made Simms a wealthy man as he advised Lawson on the purchase of other patents and acquired a stake in the ventures.

In May 1895 he accompanied Evelyn Ellis in a journey in the first car imported in to England.

1895 he drove the first Cannstatt Daimler at Crystal Palace in November.

October 1895 with Sir David Salomons he organised the first British Motor Show, the 1895 Horseless Carriage Exhibition, in Tunbridge Wells.

December 1895 Salomons founded the Self-Propelled Traffic Association (SPTA), the idea for which he disputed with Simms.

1896 January. He founded the Motor Car Club with Lawson in January 1896. Together the two men also organised the "Emancipation Run" on 14 November 1896 to celebrate the new Locomotives on Highways Act (the repealing of the "Red Flag Act"). Around the same time Simms decided to part with Lawson as the Motor Car Club collapsed.

July 1897 Simms formed the Automobile Club of Great Britain with Evelyn Ellis as Chairman and Charles Harrington Moore as Secretary.

August 1897 Salomons registered another Automobile Club of Great Britain. Simms took out an injunction to prevent Salomons from carrying out business under that name and eventually in October 1897 Salomons admitted he had no case and relinquished any rights to the name.

Simms was a leading figure in the launch of the Automobile Club in 1897.

Between 1898 and 1900 Simms operated the Motor Carriage Supply Co

1900 Details of mounting a Maxim gun on a vehicle.

1900 Simms became a vehicle manufacturer, with the establishment of the Simms Manufacturing Co. This produced cars and commercial vehicles in small quantities at the Welbeck Works, Kilburn, from 1904 to 1907–8, as well as engines for other manufacturers.

1900 Simms produced an odd tricycle known as the Motor Wheel, which differed from the norm as the two front wheels were driven and the rear wheel did the steering. It ran in the 1,000-mile trial that year, but the whole contraption was highly unstable. Although it ran on for a few years, the Motor Wheel was not a success and the tricycle production was very limited.

1902 The problem of trade shows, exacerbated by cycle manufacturers' attempts to include cars in their shows, was met by Simms's foundation in 1902 of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT), which elected him as its first president.

Simms was interested in the military application of the motor vehicle, mounting a Maxim machine gun and an armoured shield on a De Dion quadricycle as the Simms Motor Scout and designing a heavier Motor War Car.

1904 SIMMS, Frederick R., 55, Southwark Street, London, S.E. As head of the firm of consulting engineers (Messrs. Simms and Co.) introduced into this country the Daimler motor in 1890. Besides acting as consulting engineer to many important firms, including the leading motor-car manufacturers, he was a personal friend of the late Mr. Gottlieb Daimler and Mr. Levassor. Was for some years a director of the Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft, of Cannstatt, the makers of the famous "Mercedes" car. It is perhaps not generally known that Mr. Simms has initiated, and is responsible for, many an improvement in those celebrated cars. Perhaps the greatest service Mr. Simms has rendered this country was when he founded the Automobile Club of Great Britain and Ireland, a Club that has done such important work for motoring in this country. For three years Mr. Simms was vice-chairman of the Club, in which capacity he did untiring work, bearing for a long time the entire financial burden of the Club unselfishly. Mr. Simms' technical achievements are many. He is the owner of some sixty patents, many of which are in connection with motoring, and is the inventor of the well-known Simms-Bosch magneto-electric ignition. Is chairman of the Simms' Manufacturing Company, Ltd.

1907 The Simms Magneto Co was established in 1907, after he had obtained UK manufacturing rights from Bosch, but the small production runs could not compete with the foreign product and the company closed early in 1913.

1913 Simms started another business, Simms Motor Units initially as a sales and repair organisation for motor components, especially dynamos and magnetos. Manufacture was initially undertaken by others on behalf of the firm, an important source in the First World War being the Simms Magneto Co of New Jersey, established by Simms in 1910. The English workforce, however, grew from twelve in 1913 to more than 300 by early 1919 and a subsidiary, the Standard Insulator Co, was established in 1915.

To build on his wartime success, Simms established Simms Motor Units in extensive premises in East Finchley. The virtual destruction by fire of the Kilburn works in 1920 and the slump of 1920–21 in the engineering industry brought about the cessation of manufacture until 1926.

1935 Frederick Simms resigned from Simms Motor Units.

1937 Frederick Simms was still operating as a consulting engineer at his offices in Pall Mall.

Simms was twice married. His first wife was Austrian, but nothing else is known about her; there were two daughters of his second marriage, in 1910, to Mabel Louise, daughter of Joseph Worsley, a cotton merchant.

1944 Simms's wife predeceased him, and his own death occurred on 22 April 1944 at Dunbarty, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire. He was cremated at Streatham Vale, London, and his ashes were placed in the Annunciation churchyard beside those of his wife.

Throughout his life Frederick Simms was also a prolific inventor. He worked with Robert Bosch on magneto ignition for cars, he made Simms-Welbeck cars, lorries and marine engines, invented the first rubber bumper and a prototype indicator (a "traffic warner"), agricultural vehicles, military vehicles and guns, and aeronautical devices.

Blue Plaque managing agency: Unknown

Individual Recognized: Frederick Richard Simms

Physical Address:
Ranelagh Gardens
London, United Kingdom

Web Address: [Web Link]

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