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Jeremy Joseph Fry

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Jeremy Fry was a British inventor, engineer, savior of the Theatre Royal, entrepreneur, and avid arts buff who died in 2005 at the age of 81. Born in Bristol in 1924, Fry was the descendant of JS Fry, the chocolate manufacturer. He used his inheritance from his famous uncle to found a small electrical and mechanical engineering business in 1957, which would soon thereafter become Rotork Engineering Company. Rotork was the market leader in equipment for use in old and gas pipelines, refineries, power stations, and waste water plants. Fry founded the ground-breaking company after identifying the potential of valve actuators.

Fry was educated in Gordonstoun and joined the Royal Air Force as a pilot during the war. Between 1954 and 1957, Fry held a position as product designer for Frenchay Products Ltd. His most notable designs include the Sea Truck (a flat boat ferry with the ability to carry one car at a high speed) as well as a four-wheel drive wheelchair. Fry is also credited with mentoring famous inventor James Dyson, who joined Rotork in 1970.

In addition to his engineering contributions and personal achievements, Fry is noted for his interest in the arts and his friendship with Antony Armstrong-Jones (later Lord Snowdon), who married Princess Margaret in 1960. In 1979, Fry moved outside of Bath and bought the Theatre Royal in the city. He would spend the next five years restoring and renovating the theatre before it re-opened in 1982. Fry moved to India towards the end of his life and hand-built a palace in Kerala, which he then transferred brick-by-brick to Tamil Nadu, where he would die.

Companies and Investments

Rotork Engineering Company (Founder), Frenchay Products Ltd (Product Designer), Northern Ballet (Chairman), Arnolfini Gallery (Chairman), Sea Truck (Designer)


Lessons Learned

I stand by the Edisonian approach to inventing: make prototype after prototype until you get it right.

If you think you have a good idea, pursue it and turn it into something wonderful. Forget about what people think, it’s all about having blind faith in what you are doing.

I place a great deal of importance on nurturing the talents of my employees. To me, this is perhaps the most important aspect of business ownership and fostering creativity and cutting-edge ideas.


Inspiring Quotes

To me, the goal is to move people, to make people think, but never, never at the expense of the person you’re photographing. To laugh with, yes - but never to laugh at

Antony Armstrong-Jones (Lord Snowdon)

Jeremy Joseph Fry's Quotes

I have absolutely no routine. If I have a lot to do, I get up very early. If I haven’t, I stay in bed. I am a tradesman as well as a thinker

Jeremy Joseph Fry

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