Colin Chapman Museum and Education Centre Newsletter October 2011

Newsletter – Number 33

  1. Lotus around and about
  2. Museums around the world you may not have heard of: The Haynes Motor Museum
  3. Questions from our readers
  4. Kingdom BRUNEL: A Comparison with Colin Anthony Bruce Chapman
  5. Contemporaries and Peers: Leslie Ballamy 1903-1991
  6. Lotus books one for the library
  7. Lotus collectables
  8. Lotus interest on YouTube

All previous articles relating to these are held on the website.

1. Lotus around and about



2. Museums around the world you may not have heard of:


Over 400 amazing cars

The prestigious Haynes International Motor Museum, at Sparkford in Somerset is the UK’s largest exhibition of the greatest cars from around the world. A living and working museum, with over 400 amazing cars and bikes from nostalgic classics of the 50s and 60s, glorious Bentleys and Rolls Royces to exciting super cars of today, like the Jaguar XJ220 and the Ferrari 360.

You can discover the world famous Red Room, 12 huge display halls and one of the UK’s largest speedway collections.

Red Hall


British Hall

Opening times
2nd March to 31st October
Monday – Sunday
9:30am – 5:30pm
(6:00pm in summer school holidays)

1st November to 1st March
Monday – Sunday
10:00am – 4:30pm

The Museum is open all day, every day (except 24th, 25th & 26th December and 1st January).


3. Question (can you help?)…This time a request

We frequently get asked from around the world quite amazing question. So far we have used a limited group to try and answer them, not always successfully.
So we now put them on our website and see if any “friends” know the answer.

Still many unanswered questions on our website can you help?


I’m trying to accurately source a quote from Mr. Chapman. Here is the general statement:

“Car-building requires the ability to see in three dimensions. Most people see two dimensionally. One needs that ability, and it cannot be taught.”

Does that sound familiar? Any help will be appreciated.

4. Isambard Kingdom BRUNEL: A Comparison with Colin Anthony Bruce Chapman.


This article is the result of a powerful set of coincidences. The editor’s interest in both Brunel and Colin Chapman, the reading of the Vaughan’s controversial biography of Brunel followed in quick succession by the rediscovery of the 100 Great Britons.
For some the comparison of Brunel and Chapman will be extremely controversial, some might even think sacrilegious or contemptuous or even irrelevant.
However the editors believe there is value in attempting a comparison .Through which there is value of assessing the significance of engineers to society and their contribution to culture and aesthetic s of Industrial Design.
Where Brunel has been lionised [there is a museum devoted to him; his archive is held by a prestigious university and he has many monuments] Chapman has been demonised and scapegoated.
Both men had failings as will be explored here. Both did a considerable amount to advance British economic, technical interests and transport mechanisms. This article will explore these issues in greater depth and argue that a nation undervalues its science and technology at its peril.
In 2002 in a public poll conducted by the BBC in its “100 Great Britons” survey .Brunel was placed second behind Churchill. A celebrated engineer in his era Brunel remains revolutionary today. His concepts provided the basis of revolutionary public transport system which extended to transatlantic shipping. Although not all his concepts and designs were successful he innovated many answers to long standing problems.
With his vision and technical audacity and strength of character he “stretched engineering and construction technology beyond the limits of possibility. Failures and disasters occurred at regular intervals; yet he was indomitable and indefatigable.”
This article is intended to provoke thought and debate. By a system of comparison it sets out to do justice to Colin Chapman and in the process make a case for the proposed museum. Not for passive reverence but rather in the interests of inspiring and a generation of engineers to creative problem solving to which they are committed and obligated through technology social welfare and wealth.

The BBC: Top 10 Great Britons.
Three scientists are in the top ten.

  • Elizabeth the First
  • Oliver Cromwell
  • Isaac Newton
  • Horatio Nelson
  • Isambard Kingdom Brunel
  • Charles Darwin
  • Winston Churchill
  • John Lennon
  • Diana, Princess of Wales

The BBC: Top 100: Engineers Inventors and Scientists
Engineers, scientists etc formed 17% of top 100.Some of these represent the “Classic” names taught to a certain generation; others are more modern and less well known. [See below reference to demographics]

  • Isaac Newton
  • Charles Darwin
  • Alexander Fleming
  • Alan Turing
  • Michael Faraday
  • Stephen Hawking
  • Frank whittle
  • John Logie Baird
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • George Stephenson
  • Edward Jenner
  • Charles Babbage
  • James Watt
  • James Clerk Maxwell
  • Barnes Wallis
  • Marie Stopes

Brunel: Sponsored by J.Clarkson

Brunel achieved a very significant second place. The editor would suggest that this might in part be attributed to the robust, forthright, inimitable and hero worship type presentation of Clarkson. Although this was uncritical and pitched at glorification. The other factors are that Brunel and his work is relatively modern and that his engineering achievements remain highly visible with aesthetic qualities and in use. In an age of obsolescence they possibly represent security, permanence, reassurance, enduring values and value for money. It’s also possible that the Victorians are undergoing a reassessment / revisionism and their vilification is being re-examined in light of our throwaway society.
The other factors that might have supported Brunel are the education level of the viewing public and the demographics of the voting pattern/ respondents.
The other candidates despite the enormity of the intellectual achievements risked upsetting sensitivities; Brunel might have gained in his relative neutrality.

However in a democratic and reasonably representative vote Brunel did extremely well. This poses questions about the British peoples regard and respect for engineers and its interface with wider considerations of Industrial Design, aesthetics and even sculpture. Possibly the conventional and fine art dominance has prevented fuller appreciation and awareness. It raises questions why a picture has greater “Value” than a bridge.

Brunel Brief Biography.
Principal Events and Dates of Brunel’s Life:

  • 1806 Birth
  • 1822 Started work for his father
  • 1825 Work on Thames Tunnel [ note site of Brunel Museum, London]
  • 1830 Avon Bridge Competition[ Clifton suspension Bridge]
  • 1832 First Reform Bill
  • 1833 Appointed engineer to Great Western Railway.
  • 1836 Marries
  • 1837 Victoria becomes Queen /1837/38 SS Great Western
  • 1838 First section of Great Western Railway completed
  • 1842 Victoria travels by train
  • 1846 Maiden Voyage of SS Great Britain/ Battle of the Gauges
  • 1848 Atmospheric Railway ;Devon
  • 1851 Great Exhibition
  • 1854 Crimean War
  • 1855 Brunel Designs Hospital for Crimean wounded
  • 1858 SS Great Eastern launched
  • 1859 Saltash Bridge [ Royal Albert Bridge] completed; SS Great Eastern sails, Brunel dies.[ age 53]

Brunel’s Scope and Achievements

  • Ships cellular hull concept
  • Trains and Railways
  • Bridges[ see editors photograph]
  • Viaducts [ see editors photograph]
  • Tunnels
  • Harbours
  • Sea walls
  • Floating Docks
  • Observatory
  • Rifling for gun barrel
  • Portable field hospital
  • Architecture and buildings including Paddington Station, London.[ see editors photograph]
  • International catalogue and impact and transatlantic crossing via shipping.

Gooch on Brunel

“By his death the greatest of England’s engineers was lost, the man with the greatest originality of thought and power of execution bold in his plans but right. The commercial world thought him extravagant, but although he was so, great things are not done by those who sit down and count the cost of every thought and act.”

Context of Brunel’s Life and Times

To understand the significance of Brunel and his work we must see him in historical context. He lived during the 19c when Britain became one of the most powerful nations on earth. This was attributed in part to economic power combined with the British Empire. The economic and commercial powerhouse emerged from an ability to turn technical knowledge into practical wealth creation allied with natural resources , raw materials from its Empire and markets to which it could export.
Brunel’s wide ranging genius was that he was in the vanguard of delivering abstract theory into practical and mainly profitable [long term] propositions.
Britain entered the Industrial Revolution c 1760 with the accumulated resources that evolved in turn from the earlier Agricultural Revolution. Until then engineers and inventors mainly worked alone; almost in a vacuum. With the advent of the Industrial revolution engineers took on a more important role within society helping to produce economic wealth. The early engineers such as Brindley had designed the canal system of inland transport; Telford designed roads and bridges. They were the first of a generation of new breed of civil and structural engineers.
The Industrial Revolution accelerated into the 19C and made further economic demands and expansion. In particular for the speed and volume and flexibility of materials transit and manufactured goods. This placed an emphasis away from the canals to railways and steam ships.
Into this society Brunel was born in 1806; and to meet this societies needs he was destined to make far reaching and remarkable contributions. He was said to be the greatest engineer of his age.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel accomplished works that others refused to contemplate.

Early Life

Isambard’s father, Mark Brunel was a great engineer I his own right. He must have been a great inspiration and influence on the young man. They were opposites in temperament and personality. The father tending towards absent mindedness and unassuming; the son complex, sophisticated and a shrewd judge of men. Isambard had a commanding presence spite of his short staure.Where as the father lived peacefully into old age, the son through extremely hard work and stress won fame and an early grave.
Both men showed the ability to transform visions into reality through hard work and attention to detail. Brunel was born 9/4/1806. As an infant .Brunel showed great talent for drawing. By the age of six or so he had mastered the principles of geometry. His father sent him to a boarding school in Hove, where he made a survey of the town and sketched its buildings. In his youth Brunel was sent to France for higher education. He attended the Lycee Henri Quatre in Paris, famous for its teaching of mathematics. To supplement his education, the young man had practical training with master craftsmen.
At the age of sixteen he returned to England to join his father. His practical knowledge developed with regular visits to local engineering works.

The Thames Tunnel

The tunnel had been conceived of as early as 1798.Two engineers Vazie and Trevithick had worked on the project unsuccessfully. Marc Brunel took up the challenge aided by new inventions of his own; the tunnelling shield [borrowed from the “shipworm” whilst working at Chatham dockyard. The work went on under great hardship and difficulties. The main drawbacks were tunnel “sickness” and leaks. Isambard during this time often worked thirty six hours on end. When a tidal wave ran through the tunnel Brunel saved a workman’s life. The work later was stopped and did not resume for a considerable period.
After this project Brunel dreamed of being rich and famous. Although many of his inventions failed he travelled widely doing “one offs” and gained much experience.

The Clifton Suspension Bridge

A chance came to prove his ability with the competition for a bridge to span the Avon at Bristol. It was an immense challenge and required spanning the gorge.Brunel decided on a suspension bridge. This was both bold and imaginative. From his drawings of his conception we can see the great draftsmanship of which he was capable. Brunel won the competition, but the bridge was not completed until 1864 which was after his death.
During this period Brunel worked on cleaning Bristol dock. This was mundane work but introduced him to the men planning a railway from Bristol to London. They were impressed by Brunel’s energy and vision and as a result was appointed engineer.
This was the turning point in his career.

The Great Western Railway [Engineer to the Great Western Railway]

At the time he was working on the Great Western Railway, Brunel married Mary Horsley in 1836.It was a conventional marriage but Brunel considered his work his real “wife”. He was fond of his children and they had three.
Brunel was appointed engineer to the GWR in March 1833 and asked to complete his survey by May. During this hectic time he designed his personal carriage; his famous “Flying Hearse”. This held his plans, instruments and a huge case of fifty cigars. There was considerable political resistance to prevent the railway being built. In a parliamentary debate, Brunel defended the case and it was said of him
“He was rapid in thought, clear in his language and never said too much or lost his presence of mind”
The GWR eventually won and work proceeded.

The Finest Work in England

Brunel was faced with the joint problem of supervising the greatest construction work recorded in history and fusing his work force into a disciplined and efficient team. He succeeded in both and was thus able to deliver effective rail travel to millions.
The first section from Paddington to Taplow needed the Maidenhead Bridge designed by him [the world’s largest brick built span. The rail link ran out from Paddington through Ealing and there are two lesser engineering pieces en route; the viaduct at Hanwell and the Iron Bridge over the Uxbridge Road [see editors photographs and those of roof at Paddington]
As the route advanced Brunel also built the terminus at Bristol Temple Meads. Work was held up at Box Tunnel .This was a two mile long and is considered by some as one of the greatest works since the pyramids.

Battle of the Gauges

Although Brunel’s Great Western was termed the “Finest Work in England” he was defeated over the gauge size. This was not based on technical considerations .In many respects the broad gauge offered superior travel, speed , comfort , safety and efficiency. The reason was primarily economic and pragmatic based around cost and flexibility [interchangeability] of the existing 1900 miles of narrow gauge. To make an alteration was not merely to the track but the rolling stock, bridges stations and infra structure.

The Atmospheric Railway

This was a costly failure, but it showed Brunel’s futuristic vision. Today it would be considered “green”. It was smokeless and noiseless .The design was relatively simple but suffered from inappropriate materials available at the time and weather. The design required a sealed tube and induced movement by displacing air. The system worked relatively well for a short time but due to faulty materials and construction / servicing had to be closed down

The Royal Albert Bridge [Saltash over the Tamar]

As the railway advanced westward it became necessary to build bridges over the Tamar. Brunel’s design was for spans of 465 ft; supported by single deep water pier. Trusses were floated into position on pontoons and then jacked up to the level of the pier.
The design is a functional and aesthetic masterpiece of refined understatement of form and function.

The Great Ships [Great Western 1837, SS Great Britain 1843, Great Eastern 1858[Leviathan]

During the time spent working on the railway Brunel became interested in steamships. This may have been in part the necessary physical means of continuous travel, commercial considerations of faster trade and the possible mutation of steam power to drive and an alternative system of propulsion.
Previously they were thought to be impractical because of the volume required to carry fuel. Isambard proved this wrong from the basic reasoning of volume and area. By which method larger ships were possible. This permitted the designs for the Great Western. To prove the competence of the steamship a race to New York was arranged. In spite of a fire aboard the journey was completed in fifteen days in 1838
Never content Brunel planned a second larger ship .This design allowed for a screw propeller and iron hull. It was named The SS Great Britain .Unfortunately just after her trials she ran aground but later made services to Australia. The ship is now in Bristol dock undertaking restoration.
The Great Eastern or “Leviathan” was a result of Brunel’s contact with John Scott Russell on the Great Exhibition committee. Brunel faced some extreme challenges setbacks with this project. Brunel acknowledged one of the greatest technical challenges of his career was the launch of the hull. Eventually with the aid of spring tide the Great Eastern was floated in January 1858.she steamed majestically and Brunel realised a considerable ambition but not without personal toll.

Brunel’ Death

Brunel’s life had been stressful and many times he came close to over stretching himself and perhaps harboured a fear of failure. The technical problems and launch of the Great Eastern left Brunel a sick and dying man. He attempted to recuperate with a trip to the continent but soon returned. It might have been his last ambition to see the Great Eastern steam. This was realised on 9th September 1858. During sea trails of the Great Eastern a heater exploded and this killed several engineers. It’s possible that when the news was broken to Brunel the shock, sadness, and sense of responsibility killed him September 1859.

The Crimean Portable Hospital [Renkioi]

Although Brunel rarely got involved in Government he made a wonderful design for a prefabricated hospital. The terrible conditions that Florence Nightingale had described were partly mitigated by the simple clean and efficient design submitted by Brunel. It’s reputed that of the 15,000 men who passed through the hospital only 50 died. Brunel dismissed the project as:
“Just a sober exercise in common sense”

Brunel: An Assessment

Britain’s place in technological history is in part due to the availability of capital, a willingness to invest [and take risk], partly to our then Empire and our ability to conduct trade and the work of our engineers and inventors. This was very relevant in the Victorian era. The technology allowed Britain to maintain and raise the standard of living for an ever increasing population [which also in part due to advances in medicine etc].
The men who helped produce this higher productivity and affluence were of Brunel’s stamp.
S.S. Miles made the pertinent observation:
“Our engineers may be regarded in some measure as the makers of modern civilisation.”
Although Brunel had many tragedies and near disasters, he was a man who lived before his time. From his simple design of a dock scraper or small harbour at Briton Ferry to the magnificence of the Great Western Railway, he made an enormous contribution to society in which he lived and we can still experience the engineering feats today whilst appreciating the integrity courage and foresight that brought them into existence.
Rolt said of Brunel:
“Brunel was more than a great engineer; he was an artist and a visionary, a great man with a strangely magnetic personality; which distinguished him even in the age of powerful individualism in which he moved”
Vaughan has said of Brunel first in the introduction and then in the epilogue:
“Outwardly indomitable, Brunel was driven by “blue devils” fears and insecurities …………. This drive cost others dear; The Thames Tunnel cost lives including nearly his own; the GWR … left contractors bankrupt, his experiments with the atmospheric railway cost shareholders their savings…. Throughout his life he ruthlessly pursued fame and worked himself into an early death.
Brunel’s superbly engineered railways, daringly designed bridges and three great ships – more ambitious than anything attempted for decades afterwards – serve as his monument .Much of his work is still in place. As serviceable as when it was built….
“He was indeed a great man, an exceptional man though he did not by himself build the railway but received vital assistance from untold thousands of other men whose efforts he rarely if ever acknowledged.
It’s astonishing to think that his super human labours and his intense mental energy he focused came from an unhappy mind; a mind plagued with blue devils and so supremely lacking in self confidence that he believed he had to slave incessantly……………….
His perfect taste, his insistence on only the best workmanship his obsession with his status and his frequent change of mind and grievous mistakes cost his shareholders dear [their life savings very often]
While he himself did not achieve great wealth and indeed paid for his dreams by his death at an early age of 53 .But he did not dream in vain. He took up his challenges as an honourable knight errant; he pursued his dragons with utmost tenacity and executed then with reckless bravery. Never a man to allow his dreams to remain nebulous. Isambard Kingdom Brunel had the courage, tenacity and skill to translate his aspirations into practical achievements which stand out as his lasting memorial ….

ACB Chapman

Readers are directed to the A&R article “Motoring icons of the 2C” which undertakes a detailed analysis of Colin Chapman’s approach and methodology. Chapman’s achievements for brevity might be summarised as:

  • Multiple World Motor Sport Campion Manufacturer [and driver]
  • Engineering innovator in various transport mediums.
  • Manufacturer and employer
  • Designer of revered iconic cars and Industrial Designer
  • Motivator of Men
  • Backbone of Post War Motor sport making Britain the leader in the field of high technology and investment.
  • Enduring and continuing legacy and inspiration not least in green/ sustainable products through mechanical efficiency and low weight.

Human Frailty

Both Brunel and Chapman had frailties. They were human. Both men paid a heavy price for their engineering idealism and integrity. Both aspired to the best and bore a heavy responsibility pushing boundaries accepting challenges and risks resulting from exploration and experimentation. These men made mistakes and had weaknesses but these were proportional to the exceptional gifts and responsibilities they bore. They did not become victims and their optimism and self believe drove them forward even when carrying scars.
Their pushing boundaries were not primarily for personal gain, although Chapman erred possibly nurturing a sense of injustice and hypocrisy. .The Nation was a primary beneficiary, experiencing inward investment and kudos. We find it easier to criticise than construct and to find fault without judicial balance.
When we examine the top ten Great Britons which was without fault? Or some inadequacy, hypocrisy, contradiction at some point in their lives or career.
Judgemental bias is not healthy nor does it promote technology or wealth.
The editor would contend that no human being is perfect and that genius is almost invariable counterbalanced in some aspect.
If we are to have a humane and consistent progress we should try and learn to conduct more through and even handed analysis. Rejoicing in deliberate and systematic denigration is in reality evasion, denial, suppression and regressive.

Conclusion and Comparative Analysis [What they had in common.]

  • Modest origins and both self made men [ neither inherited significant capital]
  • Both engineers in structural / civil discipline not mechanical. Both are deemed Industrial Designers by academics.
  • Visionary innovators both pushed the envelope of technology
  • Contributors to national economy creating wealth , or exports and generating employment
  • International perspective without barriers or artificial horizons
  • Both visually literate strong aesthetic sensibilities both draftsmen
  • Both undertook design solutions outside their main specialism
  • Both tragically died young. Invested their capital , ideas and ultimately the lives in pursuit of their “ideals”
  • Suffered disappointment and failure but still persisted; both invested their own capital on occasions and lost. Both men experienced the death of close colleagues and workmen and “carried the cross”
  • Colossal self belief and mild egotism
  • Both inspired loyalty and motivated others / subordinates
  • Both put Britain on the map and had worldwide impact and adoption of ideas
  • Both inspired transport revolutions and extrapolated technologies
  • Both had design philosophy towards economy of materials and resources
  • Both were driven men with human frailties who on occasions suffered doubts, perceived injustice. Chapman engaged in ill conceived dealings that he might have felt were legitimate.
  • Their names have entered folklore because of the magnitude of their achievements.
  • Midwifes to revolutionary transformations in engineering
  • Lasting legacies and influence and source of inspiration

Economics, Culture, Education and Opportunities. The proposed Colin Chapman Museum and Education Centre

This article has been used in part to question our relationship and understanding of engineering, culture and aesthetics. It has done this by questioning comparison and extrapolation. It has attempted to examine definitions. Convention fine art has tended to devalue masterpieces of engineering and Industrial Design. The editors would argue that this does society a massive injustice and is particularly regressive. If engineering is not honoured or accorded respect then it’s unlikely to be pursued and our lives will be poorer economically and visually. We go occasionally in a life time to a museum or theatre but we live in a house, commute to work, drive a car, consume energy and fly away to holidays almost every minute of every day.
The proposed Colin Chapman Museum and Education centre has the declared intention and objective of being a source of inspiration to engineers and designers. An exploratory laboratory and spring board taking successful solutions as a momentum and point of departure. It offers the learning opportunity to dissect and criticise methodology and technology. To question and reason to deduct and prompt creative springboards to new solutions. In a holistic definition the aesthetic and culture is as radiant, beautiful and meaningful in engineering .The proposed museum will enrich individual development along with the contribution towards wider social capital. In many respects Chapman’s mechanical efficiencies and economies are more needed and relevant now than ever.


Isambard Kingdom Brunel –Engineering Knight Errant
Adrian Vaughan
John Murray 1991
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
LTC Rolt,
Penguin 1976
Brunel and After
Archibald Williams
Great Western Railway 1925
Isambard Kingdom Brunel
Shire Publications 1972
Brunel and his World
John Pudney
Thames and Hudson 1974
The Great Western Railway in the Nineteenth Century
The Archaeology of the Industrial Revolution
Industrial Archaeology
Great Britons
John cooper
BBC .2002
ISBN: 1855145073
The Brunel Museum, Railway Ave; Rotherhithe, London SE16 4LF
Motoring Icons of 20C [Archive and Resource article]
Colin Chapman: Wayward Genius
Mike Lawrence
Breedon Books 2002
ISBN: 1859832784
Colin Chapman –Lotus Engineering
Hugh Haskell
Osprey 1993
ISBN: 1855323761
A Salute to British Genius
Gordon Rattray Taylor
John Player Foundation 1977
SBN: 436516373
Industrial Design
C&P Fiell
Taschen 2000
ISBN: 3822863106
Industrial Design
Ed: Jocelyn de Noblet
Flammarion /APCI 193
ISBN: 2080135392
The Conran directory of Design
Ed: S Bayley
Octopus Conran 1985
ISBN: 1850290059




Lotus 25 picture courtesy of
Sports Car Digest – The Sports, Racing and Vintage Car Journal

5. Contemporaries and Peers: Leslie Ballamy 1903-1991.


Leslie Ballamy was an inventor and motor engineer who was involved in British motor sport including the 750 Motor Club in both the pre and post war periods. He was gifted, talented, self taught and independent.
Although considerably older he was a peer of Colin Chapman and his thinking on independent front suspension may have inspired Chapman in part.
The term “Ballamy wheel” has entered folklore. Leslie Ballamy was very influential in production sports car racing and his range of products / components contributed significantly to Ford specials of the 1950’s and the 1172 Formula racing with which Chapman and Lotus as so identified.

Leslie Ballamy: The Man

Leslie Mark Ballamy was born in Camberwell. South East London in 1903. He was a Scout but left school young without qualifications or any evidence of engineering interest or potential.
He was however to develop into a gifted, intuitive, focused practical engineer with a bent towards exploration and research. He tackled a diverse range of problems as his designs and patents prove. [See below]
As young man he travelled in Europe acquiring some basic engineering and mechanical skills.
He returned home and set up a business with his brother possibly in Hammersmith
At the end of the 1920’s he established independently; from his own premises at 13 Leigham Hall Parade, Streatham, South London, SW16 & 63 Old Town Clapham, SW4 c 1935 [note shared Town location with Allard [see below] and possibly a branch in Thornton Heath

Independent Front Suspension

LMB had possibly commercial as well as theoretical reasons to improve the Austin Seven front suspension.
C1933 he split the front beam axle in a way that he considered improved handling and safety. This product was put into production and was primarily aimed at Austin Seven &Ford 8/10 owners. However this suspension system he fitted to other cars including Allard, Bugatti, Delage V12 and Bentley.
It ought be recorded this was not a first and other major manufacturwres had experimented with this arrangement.
Its very possible that major mass production manufacturers did not believe the system cost effective and that their customers were satisfied with the product and its value for money in the utility car class. A combination of reasons including existing patents might have prevented the LMB systems wider adoption.

Lotus Connections: Direct and Indirect

LMB was known to Colin Chapman but they were not in direct competition within racing classes although both has some parallel involvement first with Trials and the use of Austin Seven and then Ford 1172 side valve components. Both may been aware of each other through the 750 Motor Club. As noted Chapman may have taken some inspiration from Ballamys IFS.He certainly dramatically simplified it but retained the same essential components.
In Russell’s book further connections are noted:

  • See page 131 The Lotus Mk.III in background
  • See page 132 Lotus XV with Buick V8 at LMB workshop
  • C 1957 -59 Peter Gammon drove Ballamy’s racing Popular registration No. 817 FXH
  • Nordec Special captured in photograph alongside Lotus Mk.VI [registration ECP 100 seen at Silverstone 1954?] offering contrasting interpretations and performance from basic Ford 1172 cc side valve components and significantly the IFS formats.

The Caterham Connection and Supercharging [see editor’s photographs]]

C 1939 and almost immediately after the Second world war Ballamy had moved southwards to a location on the A22 between Caterham and Whyteleafe in Surrey. The present location is colloquially referred to as the Wasps Lodge Roundabout.
Its here that Ballamy is believed to have set up his “Research Laboratory” on what was former large ex army premises and possibly land used by Moore and George. As far as the editor can detect the site is now Bourne House. [Russell’s book shows some period photographs and additional items can be seen in the Bourne Society Village series.]
It’s believed that LMB fitted superchargers ex Air Ministry Godfrey Marshall cabin blowers from this site along with other motor components.
After moving the site might have been acquired by Givandans
As an aside Tattershalls, Shalless Engineering Co.Ltd and Blue Star were other garages within a mile of each other.

For a brief period c 1940 it’s believed that LMB had an interest in North Downs Engineering that were based at Westway Common, Caterham on the Hill. They have an Internet listing and went on to produce model aeroplane engines. There may have been a short overlap with Caterham Cars who established a hundred or so yards away at Town End [see A&R article on Caterham Cars]
There is some reference to LMB having contact with Patriot Engineering in Caterham Valley but the editor has not been able to research this.

Specials and Contemporaries including the Nordec [see editors photographs]

Leslie Ballamy was involved with the following specials:

  • C1934 Ford V8 [Registration MG 3306]
  • C1935 Ellembee Special [Registration no. BCL 335]
  • C1936 LMB Epoch 10hp 1172 cc Ford conversion [Registration no’s JG 7785, CYO 576,]
  • C 1936 Type 37 Bugatti and “Doodlebug” Ford 10 trials car [Registration No, DBY 803]
  • C 1936/37 LMB V8 known as Symmons V8 Special [Registration no GMD 1 now rebuilt and registered KMB 300 [see authors photographs,]
  • 1939/40 various Allard’s
  • Thompson Engineering Special [based on Salmson]
  • 1961 LMB Debonair [Edwards Brothers fibreglass body and Ballamy lightweight ladder chassis. Priced at £785 in late 1950 early 60’s it was not particularly good value against the Mini or Austin Healey Sprite. It has been estimated that 50 were sold. [Its thought that the chassis might have influenced or perhaps evolved into the subsequent Reliant Sabre with Ashley Laminates body]


Its possible that Ballamy had an interest in at least two Nordec Specials They seem to be associated with North Downs Engineering {see above} and possibly sold from the Godstone Road site.
An advertisement in Autocar 25th March 1949 offers a Nordec at £650. It comprises a 1172cc Ford side valve with attractive two seat aluminium clad body and full windscreen that seems in appearance to resemble a scaled down Allard. [See references for link]. It appears to be relatively expensive [see A&R article on price relativity]
A further Nordec may have been NNK13? A photograph in “Motoring Specials – see references] at Silverstone in 1954. This car is fitted with a supercharged Ford 1172cc side valve engine. It is well designed and has the appearance of a BMW. It might have been both a test bed and demonstrator for the supercharger conversions that Ballamy was offering.

It’s possibly that one of these cars was coachbuilt by Fox&Nicholls and fitted with a Marshall J75 supercharger?


From the 1930’s onwards with the introduction of the Ford V8 many specials were constructed with the simple expedient of using the power, reliability and low stressed affordable American units in modified chassis with lightweight bodies.
This formula was possible first experimented in trials [see A&R article on Lotus trials cars]
Sydney Allard was very successful with utilising this combination and also tried the Ballamy front suspension principle. He went on to produce very successful racing and road cars

“Peer Pressure”

C 1935 Ford GB introduced a variation on the £100 “Y” Type 8. The specification included the 1172cc side valve four cylinder unit producing an estimated 30bhp.Top speed was limited but the robust engine was receptive to tuning. Approximately 10-15 additional bhp could be extracted by tuning including twin carburettors, and higher compression etc etc. The engine could also be supercharged. Its very self evident that should this engine be incorporated with a light weight chassis and body significant performance was possible a la Lotus Mk.VI.as the most sophisticated expression of these principles.
Hence the popularity of special building in the 1950’s when the mechanical components were readily available and relatively inexpensive.

Leslie Ballamy was in the company of and possibly influenced by these special builders:

  • Derek Buckler [Reading and Wokingham]
  • Ken Dellingpole & Ron Lowe [Dellow] trials car
  • M&L Special [note constructed by Alfred Moss and Mike Lawson – see A&R article Lotus Trials cars]
  • Gregory brothers who produced one off specials Ford based V8 and 1172.
  • Mid to late 1950’s the Ford special craze with fibreglass bodies.
  • Arthur Mallock – Mallock “U2”

Ballamy Accessory Range

The following are some of the range seen in period magazine articles:

  • LMB Light weight IFS
  • Ford E93A modified head
  • Twin Amal Carburettor conversion
  • Ignition equipment
  • Economy Manifold
  • Cross Flow radiator
  • Brass header tank
  • High ratio crown wheel pinion
  • Twin leading shoe front b’k kit
  • 15”wheels and hubcaps [see editors photographs]
  • Wheel spacers

“Ballamy Wheels” [see editors photographs]

Ballamy wheels have entered folklore and command a high premium. They are widely used on the Lotus Mk.VI where they mate with the 5 studs fixing on the Ford 10” drums.
LMB offered these for Ford Popular 8 &10, variety of Ford Specials of the period and the LMB chassis
Its thought that the 15” wheels were made for LMB by Rubery Owen and that prior to this manufacturers wheel was modified.
In period the relatively lightweight wheel retailed for £2/2/6 and with 15/125 Michelin X [steel braced radial Tyres and tube] at £7/17/6.
The advantages were:
Reduced ground clearance down from the standard 17” Ford road wheel.
Reduced unsprung mass
Improved road-holding quality of tyre.
[Of course a lower back axle ratio was also required to compensate]

LMB: Guildford

Leslie Ballamy lived in and had premises inn Guildford from the 1960.’s. The details are I believe:
Home: 5 Albany Road.
Works: Rowland’s Yard, Ladymead and Weyford House, Woodbridge Meadows.

Ballamy Designs and Patents

Tony Russell lists these as some of Leslie Ballamy’s ideas:

  • Aerosol Can
  • Centrifugal clutch
  • Lawn mowers
  • Paintbrush holders
  • Drawing board clamps
  • Garden tools
  • Hypodermic Syringes
  • Lampshades
  • Sliding joints
  • Wheel barrows
  • Tube bending equipment
  • Carpet tufting
  • “Stepstool” manufactured by Creative Tubewear.
  • The Polio Car

This was an idealistic attempt at increasing mobility for the disabled. In 1961 the Polio research Charity Fund commissioned a design with the following brief:

  • Independence
  • Mobility
  • Capacity for passengers
  • Space
  • Safety

Ballamy came up with design using Citroen Dyane floor plan and both rear and side access. Although it did not reach major production it was influential and has spawned the current much larger market and manufacturers like Brotherwood Automobility Ltd [see references]


Leslie Ballamy was a modest man and perhaps did not acquire the fullest reputation and publicity he deserved. He participated in various forms of motor sport perhaps the least “romantic” or exciting or publised production car where his Popular’s were driven to success by the likes of Rivers Fletcher.
He contributed significantly to the post war specials movement and assisted the less well off enter motor sport or construct their own individual car.
He was a contemporary of and influenced on some of the best-known names in British motor sport.
He was also an influential member of the London engineering and motor sport tradition who was fortunate to be involved with Brooklands pre war.
He perhaps represented the best of the British tradition of applied engineering and allied inventions for the purpose of practical problem solving. He possessed a form of engineering idealism.

Out in Front: The Leslie Ballamy Story.
Tony Russell
MRP Publishing.
ISBN: 1899870695

Bourne Society Village Histories [No.2] Caterham.
Ed. G.Fookes
ISBN: 0900992452

-Do- [No.9] Whyteleafe
ISBN: 0900992670

Motoring Specials
Ian Dussek
Shire Publications

Relevant OS large scale maps that help identify factory site as Godstone Road, Whyteleafe




6. Lotus books one for the library.


AUTHOR: Phillip Parfitt
TITLE: Racing at Crystal Palace 1927-1972
PUBLISHER: Motor Racing Publications
DATE: 1991

This is a useful book that has become more relevant as a result of the sprint revival.
[Readers might like to see A&R articles: Lotus on Track – Crystal Palace and Report of 2010Sprint]
The editor will have a copy at this year’s meeting and it will help illustrate along with other material and exhibits Lotus competition and participation on this South London circuit.
Crystal Place and Brooklands both have prewar connections .It might be debated that Crystal Place has the claim to be the London home circuit due to its proximity, and continuation post war through the dominant years of British motor racing in the 1960’s. As such Crystal Palace also forms a link with the Motor sport industry based in London and its environs. Not least Lotus at Hornsey only 10-12 miles north of Crystal Palace.
Crystal Palace has a rich and diverse racing tradition including motor cycles and Parfitt is even handed in his coverage.
Parfitt traces the circuit’s history in chronological order and chapters evolve:

  1. Sir Joseph Paxton’s Greenhouse
  2. Motorcycling Comes to Crystal Palace
  3. Cinders ,Speedway and The Glaziers
  4. Purpose Built Road Racing Track
  5. Crystal Palace in Post War Guise
  6. Crystal Palace in Racings Golden Era
  7. Crystal Palace on Borrowed Time 1970-1972

Parfitt also includes an appendix.
This work is readable and informative. It discusses the magnificent Crystal Palace and its sad demise from Victorian splendor and magnificent engineering. Parfitt includes some good aerial photographs which along with site plans enable the reader to understand the fitting of the buildings into a distinctive landscape [plateau and slope] and the track which has variation and gradients. The editor often postulates what if Colin Chapman had become an architect. It’s almost certain that he would have produced building with parallels to the Crystal Palace with their grace, lightness and framework construction.
Parfitt also provides some background of the politics and possible ulterior motives that undermined the circuit. This seems particularly short sited as other decisions where long term vision is easily killed against short term but ultimately both cultural and financial loss [ had the crystal Place survived etc tourism would have been significant in an area that has suffered industrial and employment loss.]
The editor’s review concentrates on motor sport and the period of Lotus participation.
Chapter 5.
This covers the period 1953-59. At this time the old LCC [London County Council] was managing the site .Residents objected to noise levels and took out an injunction. Racing was restricted. The “New Link” was added [see circuit plan] and the track was 1.39 miles ling.
On Whit-Monday, 23 May 1953 42.4k spectators attended
September 19th 1953 was significant in Lotus history as it witnessed the epic battle of Colin Chapman in the MK VI against the OSCA.
In 1957 Archie Scott-Brown raced a Lister at the track and made very favorable comments [see A&R article Lotus on track: Crystal Palace.
Saloon car racing became very popular during this period and drivers like Graham Hill competed in Speedwell Conversions etc.
In 159 it’s noted that Lotus drivers such as Alan Stacey and Michael Taylor competed with Elva’s, Kift’s and Tojeiro’s.
Parfitts work includes some attractive and informative photographs. For example
Dick Steed Lotus Mk VIII
Peter Gethin Lotus 23
Colin Chapman and Jim Clark etc
Chapter 6
Covers 1960-1969. This witnesses the redevelopment to include the National Sports and Leisure Centre. Parfitt devotes detailed attention to this subject and its worth reading and applying to broader considerations.
Although he considers it to be the beginning of the end. 30,000 spectators attended in June 1960.
Circa 1965 the LCC changed to the GLC [Greater London Council].
On the 7th June 1965 the BRSCC International Meeting was held.
Lotus would be well represented including Lotus Cortina’s.
Readers will recall that the in the 1960s London seemed to be the centre of World culture and the “Swinging Sixties” were in full flood with the likes of Carnaby street, Beatle mania, Mini Car and Mini skirt. London was the epicenter of music, fashion and particularly motor sport with its concentration of drivers, manufactures, sponsors and specialist engineers.
Parfitt notes it was the rich and diverse era and eclectic mix of cars competed at Crystal Palace such as Mallock U2’s, Chevron’s; ford GT40’s Lola type 70’s, Ferrari P2 and Gold Leaf Team Lotus Type 47 Europa etc.
Various Rally events were staged at the Palace and the BBC provided coverage.
Chapter 7
Is devoted to the final brief years and the impact of safety and the circuit became embroiled in politics and redevelopment.
Whilst the debate raged the circuit hosted exhibitions themed to motorsport. These provided family entertainment opportunities.
Sadly in 1971 the GLC announced the closure.
Parfitt includes an appendix of the names and lap records. The editor summaries these:
Tony Rolt: Connaught
Roy Saladori”Connaught
Reg Parnell: Ferrari
Stirling Moss: Maserati
Jack Brabham: Cooper Climax
Graham Hill: Lotus Climax
Innes Ireland: Lotus BRM
Denny Hulme: Brabham Honda
Jacky Ickx: MatraFord
Jocken Rindt: Lotus Ford
Jackie Stewart: Brabham Ford
Emmerson Fittipaldi: Lotus Ford
Mike Hailwood: Surtess Ford
Parfitt includes an information panel that refers to one of the conservation groups having an interest in the Place:
The Crystal Place Foundation, 84 Anerley Hill, SE19, 2AH .They have a small museum our readers might like to visit, although motor sport is not featured.



7. Lotus Collectables

Lotus Esprit Turbo Steel Metal Wall Sign


8. Lotus interest on “Youtube”

Restoring the Type 38 Lotus Car
Thank you for your continued interest and support

Editors of the newsletter
John Scott-Davies
Neil Duncan
Jamie Duncan (webmaster)