aero and automotive engines and engineers


STEWART  STEWART  TRESILIAN - sometime chief engineer: a CV
by Richard Hodgson

The amended transcript of a detailed talk about the life of Stewart Tresilian given to the Bristol Branch of the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust can in certain circumstances be made available on special request, as can the amended transcript of a detailed talk about the last Armstrong Siddeley Dog engines and the amended transcript of a detailed talk about gas-turbine projects and work at Armstrong Siddeley from 1936 [sic] to about 1950.   For further details about requesting these transcripts, please write or send a fax to the address or fax number given at the end of the home page.

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Richard Hodgson gave a talk about Stewart Tresilian at Coventry University to the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust on 8th January 2001.  This C.V.  will be altered in due course to bring in new and additional information that was mentioned during a session after the talk.


Stewart Tresilian:  9th January 1904 - 20th May 1962

1917-1922 Wellington College,


1922-1925 Cambridge University (BA in Engineering)


1925-1927 At JAP (Prestwich motor-cycle engines)


Late June / early July 1927 - late Jan / early Feb 1936, Rolls-Royce, Derby










  • Projects at the time of his death included:

  • A flying observation "van" for the Army which had reached wind tunnel testing (lift provided in some variants by 3 Blackburn gas-turbines driving two ~ 6' contra-rotating fans in the van floor);

  • A flying platform for short range battlefield missiles called the "flying pig" (a Pegasus, later BS100 [?], mounted on 4 wheels with a cab).   Confusingly, the "flying pig" name was also used at times for the Army Van.

  • A V12 engine of about 4 1/2 litres extreme speed (probably with powered valve return) 11,000+ rpm lean burn engine to produce at least 1000hp for helicopter and tank use.

  • All of his projects died with him.


Other Matters

Tresilian wrote a long paper on the piston engine that for various reasons was not published by the Automobile Engineer as originally intended, but appeared - in parts - in Automotive Design Engineering in 1965.  It was republished in a text book in the mid-80's.  Another long paper, an introduction to suspension, which he completed a little time before he died, remains unpublished.

One of Tresilian's main interests at the time of his death was the design of a lightweight high performance saloon of reasonable price.  The late Mervyn Cutler recalled hearing that Tresilian was trying to raise venture capital to further such work and look into light alloy cars.

Tresilian refused in both 1960 and 1961 Bristol Siddeley's firm request that he return to Coventry (the Armstrong Siddeley part of BS).  His reasons can be all too readily understood.   It is not yet known what capacity the company had in mind.  He believed he could not refuse another time and knew that the third and final request would be made during 1962.  As a result, he was discretely seeking independent consultancy work at the time of his sudden death in 1962.



The Missing Tresilian Manuscript

Tresilian wrote a long book between about 1959 and 1961 on design philosophy.  There were at least five copies of the manuscript.  Despite numerous searches, none can now be traced.  All those who read the manuscript for the book describe it as both instructive and very amusing!  Two engineers consider that certain other engineers might have had an interest in the manuscript's complete disappearance ....  It can only be hoped that a copy will be found one day.

If you have any information, addition or correction about Tresilian and/or the missing manuscript, please do let me know.   All information will be gratefully received.

1991, 1992, 1993, 2000  Richard Hodgson - may not be reproduced in whole or in part without permission


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