Vintage Postbag, February 1974

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A 1,000 h.p. Acre-Engine

Sir,

Having been a constant reader of your most interesting magazine since it was the days of The Brooklands Gazette, you will realise that I am no longer a youngster. On many occasions before now I have thought of writing this letter to you knowing of your interest in aircraft and aircraft engines.

As a young man, against parental advice I was fortunate enough to find my first job with Thomas Inventions Ltd., of 29 Spring Gardens, Whitehall, London. This company was operated jointly by the late J. G. Parry Thomas and his partner Major Ken Thomson. During my apprenticeship with this firm, and sometimes being in London, I noted a most handsome gentleman of Italian extraction whose name was Alanzo Rottispina (I trust my spelling is correct). He had been allocated space in the London drawing office, and had designed what I believe to be the first 1,000 h.p. aircraft -engine by the name of “Stromboli”. The prototype versions were manufactured by Messrs. Peter Hooker of Walthamstow and to the best of my knowledge the first engine was wrecked during Air Ministry tests. What eventually happened to any other engines manufactured or indeed the project in general, I have no idea. Perhaps there are other interested readers who may possess further information on this subject.

I continued to work at Brooklands in the workshop on the Byfleet side of the track. This was presided over by Ken Taylor from whom I learnt so much. Later I worked in the drawing office, seeing the Thomas Special “Flat Iron” finally completed. There were so many other interests in those days and so many interesting people one met every day. Later came the many modifications which resulted in “Bals”. This ill-fated project went ahead by Parry Thomas in the face of much criticism by his many friends, who considered that the brute force from the Liberty aircraft engine was not in keeping with his genius for design. More especially was the unsuitability of its chassis and transmission. Perhaps the answer was the lack of capital, and the urge to remain competitive. When one looks at the many other works of Parry Thomas it is tragic, to say the least, that this particular vehicle was responsible for his death. The restoration of “Babs” is to be commended, and one day I hope to see the completed vehicle.

I think that my association with Brooklands was probably the happiest time of my working life, on which I can now look back with profound pleasure.

Norfolk C. E. Mills