WIGAN, England (June 27, 2012)—Eric Holroyd—British engineer and inventor who earned more than 300 patents, many to automate tire manufacturing, and a Colwyn Medal winner—has died.
Holroyd was well known for his work on tire production technology, spending 40 years with Dunlop in England. His efforts ranged from producing the first machine to automate golf ball production to work on tire plant automation that had enormous labor-saving results.
While working for Dunlop Ltd.'s Engineering Consultancy Service subsidiary, he developed miniaturized compounding and tire-building technology. BTR P.L.C. obtained the business when it bought Dunlop Holdings P.L.C. in 1985, and in 1986 Goodyear acquired the technology for $28 million.
Holroyd worked for Goodyear until November 1986, then formed Holroyd Associates Ltd. and had a court fight with his former employer over contractual obligations and trade secrets. Goodyear dropped the case and settled with Holroyd.
Holroyd as a child had been inspired by his grandfather, William Holroyd, a successful inventor and businessman who had patents ranging form fire extinguishers to one-piece loaf pans, according to his family. Eric Holroyd began his career doing a six-year engineering apprenticeship at Scotts Engineering, a maker of side-cars, motorbikes and gear boxes, where he specialized in gearboxes.
He moved to Liverpool, England, in 1939, working on technology for bomber aircraft, and joined the British Navy in 1943. Holroyd served on a ship involved in convoy runs to Russia.
After World War II he began his career in the rubber industry by working as an engineer at a plant in Spekes, England, that later became part of Dunlop.
Holroyd advanced at Dunlop during his career. During his time there, he worked with Donald Campbell designing and producing the tires for the car that broke the land speed record for a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, a record that still holds today.
He was a senior engineer at the Fort Dunlop operation when he was appointed director of Engineering Consultancy Services in 1974. He started his consultant business with his son, Colin, and retired at the age of 75.
In 1986 he was awarded the Colwyn Medal for his services to the rubber industry, and he became a fellow of the Institute for Rubber Technology.