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Founded 1984
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John Patrick Billingham Smith

John attended the Dixie Grammar School at Market Bosworth, between 1955 and 1962, achieving 8 ‘O’ Levels and then 3 ‘A’ Levels before becoming a Technical Apprentice with Alfred Herbert Machine Tools in Coventry, where he completed his indentures in 1965.

It was while with the Coventry firm that John demonstrated an aptitude for metallurgy and became a sponsored graduate for an HND in Metallurgy with Foundry Technology at Lanchester Polytechnic, Coventry, which he achieved  with Distinction in 1965. Then followed a College Diploma in Metallurgy in 1966 [again with a Distinction] while working as a Research Assistant. He was now to spend four years [1967-1972] sponsored at the University of Aston in research and development for an MSc in Industrial Metallurgy, Computing and Management.

Although he registered for a PhD, to his disappointment power shortages, mining strikes, a lack of funds and changes of personnel meant that he was unable to submit the final thesis and instead moved to the Netherlands to work for SKF in1972, where he introduced a number of computer-based applications to help engineers in the manufacturing plants. He received promotions within SKF but in 1978 was recruited to establish a company owned by the UK National Research Development Corporation, to exploit software in universities and government centres of excellemce.

The NRDC was sold to a US company in 1983, but a year later John, with three colleagues, created a computer-aided design software company and became the Engineering and Technical Director.

A severe health problem ended John’s career in 1996, but four years later he decided to work on internal combustion engines, a lifelong passion. He was interested in using new materials and he obtained funding from the DTI, working largely in his garage at home, but able to carry out testing in various industrial locations.

Although his research and development project relied mainly on 1970s and 1980s equipment his results were reasonably successful. Sadly prohibitive costs prevented further development. The new material he developed had been aimed at the high performance piston market particularly for Omega Pistons Ltd.

John became a freelance metallurgical, mechanical, manufacturing and systems engineer and carried out a diverse range of projects, most involving pistons, for a variety of specialist companies both in the UK and worldwide. In 2020 John was appointed Chief Engineer at Flying Spares, a family run company supplying parts, by mail order, for all post-War models of Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars.Quality Manager Malcolm Crane described John as “a true English gentleman, very knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with”. He was always particularly associated with Omega however and he was still involved with them at the time of his death in January 2021.