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Honorary Degree Orations
Dr Alex Moulton, CBE, RDI, FREng
Public Orator, Tony Hodgson presented the Honorary Graduand at the Degree Ceremony held on Monday 17July at 3.00pm
Chancellor, Vice-Chancellor, honoured guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, and Graduands
Dr Alex Moulton graduated as an outstanding engineer from Cambridge University and has been devoted to research and development, design and manufacture, since the 1950s. His innovative work has been successfully exploited Internationally, being sold into countries including the USA, Japan and Europe.
During the Second World War, Dr Moulton was employed in the Engine Research Department of the Bristol Aeroplane Company and he continued his research when returning to the family rubber business, specialising in the development of rubber suspension systems for vehicles. It is this work that has characterised his design and development throughout his career.
Dr Moulton founded his own company, Moulton Developments Ltd, in 1956 and worked closely with the British Motor Corporation (BMC) for many years, developing automobile suspension systems. Famously, these included the rubber suspensions systems for the Mini and the Hydrolastic systems for the Austin 1100/1300 and other BMC and British Leyland models. Later, he was responsible for the Hydrogas system, which was developed for the Austin Allegro car and is still in use on the Rover 100 series and the MGF.
As testimony to the impact of his work, it was Dr Moulton’s use of conical rubber springs with small wheels that enabled Sir Alec Issigoniss’s design of the mini to become a reality.
Alongside the development of suspension systems for cars, Dr Moulton designed his revolutionary Moulton Bicycle. He explained that this was “… born out of a resolve to challenge and improve upon the classic bicycle …” and, I am told that he holds the view that “… one is capable of pursuing two main avenues of research simultaneously, but no more”. Once again, it utilised small wheels and rubber suspension. Indeed, it was the original full-suspension bicycle, highly efficient and designed with superior performance and comfort in mind. His bikes are lighter, safer and more comfortable, yet still go faster than most as well! The Moulton Bicycle, now a design classic, has continued to develop over many years, spawning a massive following of devotees and a wide range of models and variants.
Despite its early origins, the Alex Moulton Bicycle was a winner of last years New Designer’s competition for the most iconic example of British ingenuity, nosing ahead of the ipod MP3 music player. James Dyson commented, “… good design is about how something works, not just how it looks, which is why I like the Moulton bike so much.”
In addition to all this, Dr Moulton was elected a fellow, then Vice President, of the Royal Academy of Engineering., and was awarded the CBE in 1976.
There is no doubt that Dr Alex Moulton has made a most significant contribution to British design and engineering.
Therefore, Chancellor, I have the honour to present to you, and the whole University, Dr Alex Moulton, for the degree of Doctor of Technology, honorosis causa.