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News > Archives/ History > Brian Arton - Engineer extraordinaire

Brian Arton - Engineer extraordinaire

Brian Arton (OD) clearly had a passion for engineering, here seen as a young child on his car that he built at Glen Bawn where he grew up.

Brian Arton with a car that he built
Brian Arton with a car that he built
The following account reached us in the Archives, from Kenneth Gibbs who was at Bishops from 1954 to 1958.  Kenneth knew Brian Arton at school.  Brian was at Bishops from 1948 - 1956.  He is said to have been best known for his purchase of a motorised cart that sold fish in Fish Hoek.  Kenneth writes as follows: "The fish cart was completely open, and the driver sat on a fish box, so nobody thought anything of the purchase.  Who needs an old, smelly motorised ex-fish cart anyway ?  Well, it transpires that the fish cart had, in its younger days, been a Rolls Royce so Brian got a Rolls Royce engine on a chassis.  This was while he was still at Bishops.  He decided to resurrect the Rolls and I saw it as a work in progress when he had started building the walnut fascia and he was in the market for original dials and instruments.  He overhauled the engine and showed that it was so good that you could start it simply by rotating the magneto so that it fired once, and it would purr from then on.  I know of no other engine that can do that.  I must have been 14 or 15 when I saw Brian’s work, and for a schoolboy, it was astonishing".  We contacted Brian's son Charles Arton who was at Bishops from 1969 - 1978.  Charles kindly gave us some information about the Rolls Royce Story saying that: "It was originally, before the fish cart, an Ambulance built on a Phantom 1 chassis".  Charles says that he has some pictures of the Phantom 1 somewhere but that he would need to locate them. In the meantime Charles sent in a pic of his father as a young child with some or other car he was building at Glen Bawn, which appears in the enclosed picture.  Thank you to Charles for sending it to us and for Kenneth Gibbs for the story and to those who sent it on.  The death notice for Brian Arton who passed away on 9 October 2011 at his home in Port Macquarie, Australia, mentioned his 'unique style' that would be missed.  The obit for Brian Lansdell Arton in the 'The Diocesan College Magazine' of December 2011, p.132 explains Brian's richly led life and in particular his intense and 'lifelong affinity with machinery, both flying and terrestrial'.  Brian was devout about attending the school reunions and did so to the end of his life.   

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