Francis Claude Blake

Francis Claude Blake was a British engineer, known for his pioneering work designing and manufacturing cars, boats and railway locomotives. He was a member of the Institution of Automobile Engineers.[1]

Francis Claude Blake

Early lifeEdit

Blake was born in Putney in 1867.[2]

Blake MotorsEdit

In 1896, Blake started an engineering company in Dalling Road, Hammersmith called Blake Motors.[3] The company produced a design of an “oil motor carriage… being given with a view to the construction of such a carriage by amateurs”.[4]

In 1901, the company had outgrown its original site and moved to a site next to Kew Station. The company was by now supplying components, including complete engines, to London car manufacturers such as Pritchett and Gold and A. E. Farrow.[3]


In 1902, Blake undertook the construction of a locomotive for the nearby Richmond Main Sewerage Board. His design was based on cars of the time, but adapted for the 2 ft 9 in (838 mm) gauge railway at the sewage works. It used a 7hp Blake engine. This was second successful petrol locomotive built, preceded by an 80hp petrol-mechanical built by the Maudslay Motor Company earlier in 1902 for the Deptford Cattle Market in London.[5]

Blake built at least one more locomotive, supplied to the Port Elizabeth Municipality for use on construction of a dam and associated pumping station on the Van Stadens River.[6] These may be the only locomotives that Blake produced.[3]

Marine engines and boatsEdit

Blake was particularly interested in marine engines and in 1905, he received a patent for a reversing gear for boats. The company focused on creating motors for use in boats. By 1906, it was advertising a line of engines for "Auxiliary Yacht and Launch Work". The company closed in 1906 and the Kew works was sold to Cowey Cars. Blake built and raced his own launch after the First World War and he continued to build engines and spare parts into the 1920s.[3]


  1. ^ "Francis Claude Blake". Grace's Guide.
  2. ^ "Francis Claude Blake's Household Members". 1911 Census of England and Wales. 1911.
  3. ^ a b c d Quine, Dan (March 2019). "F.C. Blake and the Mortlake Tramways". Industrial Railway Record. the Industrial Railway Society (236).
  4. ^ "Flashes". The Autocar. Vol. 1. 18 April 1896.
  5. ^ Webb, Brian (1973). The British Internal Combustion Locomotive 1894–1940. David & Charles. ISBN 0715361155.
  6. ^ Lewis, Charlie. The Port Elizabeth Narrow Gauge.

External linksEdit