Obituary –Dr Alex Moulton CBE 1920 - 2012

Posted on 01/01/2013 by Libby Broadhurst & Colin Ledsome

It is with great sorrow that the IED learnt of the recent death of Dr Alexander Moulton CBE, distinguished engineer and designer and Honorary Fellow of the Institution.

Dr Moulton was an inspiration for generations of engineers, designers and inventors. Educated at Marlborough and Cambridge, Alex Moulton worked at Bristol Aeroplanes as assistant to Sir Roy Fedden during WW2. He joined the family firm of Bradford on Avon rubber manufacturers Spencer Moulton in 1945, leading a new research team. His collaboration with Sir Alex Issigonis resulted in Moulton suspension, including 'Hydrolastic' and 'Hydragas' systems, being employed in over 12 million British cars from the original Mini to the MGF.

Dr Moulton was also famous for his revolutionary small-wheeled, full-suspension Moulton bicycle – very popular in the 1960s and still built by hand today in Bradford on Avon, by a loyal team of engineers, technicians and craftsmen. Alex was elected as an Honorary Fellow of the IED in 1986 and was a regular contributor to our work. He hosted A level design students on tours of his facilities in Bradford on Avon, attended AGMs and presentation events and just a few years ago treated other Honorary Fellows to a discussion lunch at the Hall.

Alex was presented with the Institution's highest award, the Gerald Frewer Memorial Trophy, in 2005, in recognition of his contributions to bicycle and vehicle design. That same year the IED nominated Alex for the Prince Philip Design Award, where his work was highly commended.

In 2009 Alex himself introduced the Alex Moulton Award, presented by the IED on an annual basis to innovative and inspiring designers, in reflection of Alex's outstanding achievements in design.

Dr Moulton's approach to problems and solving them was an inspiration to all who work in engineering and design and he was a true gentleman who will be missed by many.

Libby Brodhurst, Chief Executive

Alex Moulton: A short tribute

When I joined the Design Council in 1980, it was part of my remit 'to implement the recommendations of the Moulton Report. That report, titled Engineering Design Education, had been produced in 1976 as the Council's policy document. Its main recommendations were that 'all engineering should be taught in the context of design and design should be a thread running through the course'.

I met him a few times and he was always interested in other people's work and would ask for details and opinions before adding his own thoughts. He was a very open and friendly man, whose enthusiasm for engineering will be missed.

In 1984, the then new Engineering Council's SARTOR document made design a mandatory part of engineering degree courses and quoted the Moulton Report recommendations. They remain the basis of the current UK-SPEC requirements for design content.

Colin Ledsome CEng FIED


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