Gresham's School in Wartime

We would like to invite people who have an interest in our WWI story to get in touch with us through the blog. Our sixth form researchers will be contributing their own experiences of the project to the blog and we hope to update the website as new material becomes available. If you have any relevant comments or contributions of stories or archive material we would be delighted to hear from you.

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Francis Arthur Perkins - an OG engineer, researched and written by James

Francis Arthur Perkins was born in Peterborough on the 26th February 1889. He was the son of John Edward Sharman Perkins who was an engineer. Francis joined Gresham's in the Lent term 1905 and left in the Summer of 1909. He was a Howson’s boy and got a prize in Latin prose and was a successful sportsman. After he left Gresham’s he  went to Emmanuel College in Cambridge where he successfully gained a pass degree in mechanical engineering in 1910.

When the First World War started he joined up with immediate effect into the Royal Engineers. While he was with them he went to the Dardanelles in Palestine and then to Egypt. He was demobilized in 1918 with the rank of Major.

After the First World War he went to work in engineering. He was a third-generation engineer. He first started at a company called Lawes Chemicals Limited, and then followed the footsteps of his father and grandfather who both worked for Barford and Perkins, a family firm that manufactured roads, rollers, compactors, agricultural rollers and many other agricultural machines. After working at both companies he went to Aveling and Porter in Kent. While working for them he started work on a high-speed, lightweight, diesel engine with someone called Charles Chapman. Soon after starting this work, though,  Aveling and Porter went bankrupt, forcing Francis and Charles to start their own company.

The family firm was eventually sold to Massey Ferguson which is a major Agricultural company today.