Frederick Richard Simms, 1863-1945

The father of the British motor industry:

F.R. Simms was born on August the l2th, 1863.  He is universally recognized as the father of the British motor industry.  In 1888 he made his first contact with Gottlieb Daimler.  As a result, Simms became fired with enthusiasm for the great potential of the petrol engine, so much so that he negotiated the selling rights of Daimler products in Britain and much of the rest of the world.

In 1895 he took a Cannstatt Daimler to the Crystal Palace to demonstrate its capabilities to the Press.  Shortly after, he took the initiative and formed what is now the Royal Automobile Club - RAC.  ln 1901 F.R. Simms was responsible for the inauguration of the Society of Motor Manufacturers & Traders Ltd.

The following is just a small selection of Simms' achievements:

1890:  Simms founded Simms and Company - with offices in Amberley House, Norfolk Street, Strand - to import Cannstatt Daimler engines and cars and, later, Bosch magnetos.  Simms credited with having coined the term Motor Car.

1891:  Simms demonstrates on the Thames between Charring Cross and Westminster the first motor boat.  It was powered by a Daimler engine.

1896:  Simms took prominent part in organization of London's first Motor Show in the Imperial Institute.  Also helped to organize the Emancipation Day Run to Brighton in which Gottlieb Daimler competed in a Cannstatt-Daimler.

1899:  Simms made his first bicycle engine and also his first two and four cylinder car engines.

1900:  Simms patented the first four cylinder engine with mechanically operated overhead valves.  Simms produced his Motor Wheel which took part in the famous 1000 mile trial of April and May.  This was a motor tricycle with rear wheel steering and fitted with a horizontal air cooled engine and low-tension magneto ignition.

During the period 1896-1901, among the many inventions designed and made by the Simms company, were the following:

1:  Horizontal air cooled engine with automatic inlet valve and low tension magneto ignition.
2:  In conjunction with Messrs. Vickers, Low and Maxim, an armoured war car was designed and built.
3:  Also in conjunction with the same company, a quadricycle was designed and built on which a Maxim gun was mounted.
4:  In conjunction with Messrs. Ransome, Simms and Jeffries Ltd., an air cooled motorcycle engine was applied to a lawn-mower.
5:  In conjunction with the British Vacuum Cleaner Company Ltd., an engine was applied to a vacuum pump for carpet cleaning.

1902:  The first Simms Welbeck Car went into production.

1905:  Demonstration at the Hotel Cecil of the first ever car safety bumper invented by Simms.

1907Simms Manufacturing Co. Ltd., converted into the Simms Magneto Co. Ltd.

1912:  Captain Scotts' Antarctic expedition reached the South Pole with the aid of Simms equipment.

1913Simms Motor Union Ltd., formed with a total payroll - including its three directors - of 12!  Production of magnetos continued but also many other products, including fuel gauges, couplings, magnetic oil filters, Etc.

1918:  At the end of the World War I the workforce had expanded from its original 12 to some 300 employees.

1918-1927:  The Simms empire continued to expand.  His annual profits for 1927 exceeded 41000, more than 20 times that of five year's before.

1928:  The first commercial vehicles powered by high-speed diesel engines appeared on British roads.  Simms immediately began intensive development of fuel-injection equipment.

1930:  The main development of Simms Motor Union Ltd. began with the production of diesel fuel-injection and electrical lighting and starting equipment.

1935:  Simms resigned as chairman and managing director, retiring at the age of 71.

1945:  F.R. Simms died on April the 22nd.