Arthur David Maddocks, marine engineer, Alexandra Towing and Britannia Marine Towing Equipment Ltd



Arthur David Maddocks was a successful marine engineer from Birkenhead responsible for the invention of the Britannia towing hook used in harbours around the world. Born on 7 July 1901, he received a scholarship at the age of 13 from the Birkenhead School of Art. He then went on to win a first prize from the Skerry Technical College in Liverpool where he was obtaining marks as high as 94% in mathematics and 99% in drawing. In 1921 he completed his technical training at Seftford and Sharpes Engineering Academy in Liverpool. From then on he followed a successful career, both as a public servant and as a superintendent for the Alexandra Towing Co. in Castle Street, Liverpool. In addition he also founded his own trademark, the Britannia Marine Towing Equipment Ltd. Although registered as a "Fitter" in 1923, he was already working as a General Engineer Draughtsman for the Birkenhead Corporation. By 1927 he was married and had a young daughter. In that same year he was appointed an Assistant Superintendent Engineer to the Birkenhead Corporation Ferriers. Ten years later he became the Superintendent Engineer of the company where he remained until May 1942. During the Second World War he worked as Transport Manager and Engineer for the Ministry of War Transport, and after much perseverance and determination on his part, and due to his expertise on the management and repair of fleets, he became the Engineer and Surveyor at the Ministry of Transport in March 1944. This, however, was much to the dislike of his previous department, as they did not want to release him to take the new post. His career with the Alexandra Towing Co. led to the development of the Britannia hook, which sometimes is also referred to as the Alexandra Towing hook, as he worked for that company until 1947. By the time of his retirement in 1978, he was 77 years of age and his decision to retire came as a surprise to his admirers who could not "imagine him resting". His career as an Engineer meant that he was responsible for the design and maintenance of the ferry boats that have serviced the Mersey crossing. These have included the Oxton, Bebington, Upton, Hinderton, Clyfton, Bidston and Thurston. As Superintendent of the Alexandra Towing Co., he was responsible for the construction of some 25 tugs, including the conversion of the British tanker, BP Protector to a first-class passenger liner which was named Flying Breeze. This collection refers to Arthur David Maddocks’ personal papers, especially those concerning his career at the Ministry of War Transport, at the Alexandra Towing Co., and the development and export of the Britannia hook. However, records also relate to the Alexandra Towing Co. and the running of Maddocks's own trademark, the Britannia Marine Towing Equipment Ltd.