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Friday 21 June 2013

The Eccentric Brain Behind Imperial Typewriters

Arthur Bott Pateman (1886-1972)
When Arthur Pateman designed the Imperial Model 50 standard-size typewriter in 1926, he managed to incorporate in it Hidalgo Moya's concept of interchangeable keyboards and typebaskets - used on the downstrike Imperial portables, Models A through to D (1908-1919). As a 24-year-old mechanical engineer, Pateman had in 1910 been promoted from Imperial's tool room to its experimental department to work with Moya in developing the early Imperial portables.
Pateman's success in including the same interchangeable keyboard-typebasket feature in frontstrike typewriters was continued on through all his subsequent Imperial standards - the Models 55, 59, 60, 65 and 66 (1937-1954), as well as the "Doppelgänger" double keyboard machine Pateman developed with Claude Brumhill in 1957.
With the flick of switches on either side of the keyboard, the whole keyboard-typebasket section pulls out from the body of the Imperial standard typewriter. This is as well as the carriage being detachable, making the Imperial standards so easy to dismantle to change carriage widths or fonts and languages, or for maintenance, repairs and a simple service (with the need to remove only two screws, the ones holding the ribbon spools cover in place).
In 1951, a technician at the Imperial factory in Leicester, in England's East Midlands, works on the interchangeable section of the Imperial standard. The machine shown on the factory workbench below is a Model 60
The Model 60 was succeeded in 1952 by the Model 65, which I am using here to illustrate Pateman's design. Imperial typewriters were not so much the machines of choice as Imperial was the brand backed by governments (especially for use in the public service) and given tariff relief in countries throughout the British Empire (as it still was until the late 1950s). The demand for differing keyboards in many Commonwealth countries was met with this Pateman design.
I call Pateman "eccentric", by the way, not so much because of his typewriter designs, but because of his "hobby" when he was at home, away from typewriters and the Imperial factory. But not all that far away, as Pateman's first home was on East Park Road, North Evington, very near the typewriter factory.
Pateman used much of his wages to buy cars and, immediately upon taking delivery of them, taking them completely apart, chroming all the engine's moving parts (and whatever else he could strip off that wasn't already chromed) and re-designing the bodywork. Pateman called chrome "the sign of an enthusiast".
He started this crazy, destructive past-time in 1913 with his first car purchase, a Belgian-made Métallurgique (below).
After Pateman had built a new, streamlined body for this car in his attic at home, he realised it was too big to get down the stairs. So he simply removed the attic and front doors and the banisters to get it out of the house. If that hadn't worked, his next planned step was to remove the stairs. Did I say "eccentric"?
Eventually Pateman could afford to build a magnificently-fitted garage at his country estate house in Rothley, a village in the Charnwood borough in Leicestershire. There he made what he called "improvements" to the manufacturers' original designs of his cars.
An Alvis
A Standard Swallow
Pateman went on to "re-design" six Alvises, four Standard Swallows, three Jaguars, four Rovers and a Bentley - 19 cars altogether. They became known as "Patemanised" models. 
In May 1958, Arthur Pateman and his then 20-year-old undergraduate daughter Christine use a chain block and tackle to haul an engine part on to a work bench in Pateman's Rothley garage.
Richard Polt (no, that's not Richard above) has often persuasively pressed the point that nothing has yet been invented to beat the printed word. That is, the word indelibly printed in ink on paper, the way it has been since the Han Dynasty and which will, hopefully, last for people to read it until the end of time. Not the word that is floating around untethered in the ethereal, unattached to anything with any as yet real permanency.
In researching typewriter history, I was reminded of this when trying to access documents relating to the life of Arthur Bott Pateman, the man who, for 56 years, from 1904 to 1960, was the brain behind the Imperial Typewriter Company of England.
Yes, it was through the Internet that I was made aware of the existence of these documents, but that is as far as I could go.  Eventually the Leicestershire County Council agreed to come to my assistance, and it photocopied the documents so that I was finally able to read the full story of this fascinating typewriter man's life. The stories of countless other Great Typewriter men and women have doubtless been recorded in the printed word but are not yet accessible online - notably with so many issues of Typewriter Topics still to be scanned and made available.
The Leicestershire County Council staff found many items about Pateman from newspapers, magazines and company records, none of which have not yet found their way online - and may never do so. Better still, scrawled beside an Imperial company announcement of Pateman's retirement in 1960, in Pateman's own wavering handwriting, are the scathing words, "Not once consulted after retirement". The notation appears beside this paragraph of unfulfilled promises:
Not so beloved?
It was a relief to at last get images of Pateman, to see what the man looked like - and so soon, too, after finding an image from a 1915 US passport application of Imperial founder Hidalgo Moya:
Hidalgo Moya
Here is a brief rundown of Pateman's life:
1886: Born St Mark, Tollington Park, Islington, London, August 7.
Studied engineering at the East London Technical College, then at the College of Technology, Leicester.
1900: Served apprenticeship with British United Shoe Machinery Company, Belgrave Road, Leicester.
1904-06: Started work in the assembly department of the Moya Typewriter Company on Garton Street, Leicester.
 The Garton Street factory in 1902, with Moya standing, back of room.
1908: Worked for Alfred Herbert Ltd, Britain's largest machine tool maker, in Coventry.
1909: Returned to Leicester to what had become the Imperial Typewriter Company, working in the tool room at Wharf Street.
1910: Joined Hidalgo Moya in the Imperial Typewriter Company's experimental department, working on the further development of the Imperial Model A.
1911: Made Imperial works manager under general manager Eric Julius Pilblad at East Park Road, North Evington. Pilblad succeeded Moya in this position. This was the year that investors Joseph Wallis Goddard and his brother-in-law William Arthur Evans took control of the company from John Gordon Chattaway and Moya.
1923: Appointed Imperial general manager, succeeding Pilblad.
1925: Appointed an Imperial company director.
1926: Invented Imperial's first standard-size typewriter, the Model 50. This typewriter was, mechanically, to remain virtually unchanged until Litton Industries took over Imperial 40 years later. It turned into the Imperial 55 (1937), Imperial 58 (1948), Imperial 60 (1949), Imperial 65 (1952), Imperial 66 (1954), "Doppelgänger" (1957) and Imperial 70 (1962). Under Litton, it became the Imperial 80 (Series I 1968, Series II 1970). 
Model 50
Model 55
Model 58
Model 60
Model 65
Model 66


(Designed by Pateman with Claude Wellington Robert Brumhill)
Model 70
 (This model ended the line of detachable keyboards and typebaskets.
The detachable carriage continued.)
Model 80
1939: Appointed Imperial managing director.
1956: Appointed Imperial chairman.
1960: Retired.
1972: Died, St Bernards, Bradfield, Swafield, Norfolk, on August 28, aged 86.
I have posted previously on the Model 50 (my Imperial 50 is now owned by John Lavery, who worked on these machines as a young technician) and the "Doppelgänger". So I will here give as prime examples of Bateman's work my remaining Imperial standard, the Model 65:
Workers in the Imperial factory, Leicester, in 1951:


Peter said...

A fascinating story! Thanks for your hard work in bringing it to us!

TonysVision said...

I enjoyed the story of Pateman and his cars, but especially studied the nice photographs of workers in the factory. As a photographer, I know how difficult it is to separate subject matter out of the clutter in environments like that. And as one who has never mastered the use of artificial light I was impressed at how well flash was used in these photos.

Richard P said...

A great post. I never realized that the later Imeperials had interchangeable keyboards. It makes me want to do something insane such as look for one of these in a London flea market next month!

Rob Bowker said...

I used to use a 66 in the 80s. It sat in the compositor's room on the ground floor of an old mill which had been repurposed as an art college annexe. After my Remington 5, it felt intimidating and reassuring both at the same time. Being an NGA stronghold, it was the only thing I was allowed to touch in the room. It was a great excuse to hang around the inky end of things - especially when the Monotype was clattering away in the background. The typewriter of course was a means to that end. Chris, the comp, would only accept typescript for jobs he was tasked to set. You see a lot of 66s on ebay UK and I'm often tempted to get one, if only to bask in the silvery green sheen of the paintwork. I'm very happy the council staff were helpful and helped you get ths great story together. Thanks.

Rob Bowker said...

...reminds me, there's a Mr Walker, another Leicester magnate but in the potato crisp indstry (Walkers is now part of the Pepsico stable) who was also a complete car nut. I wonder if their paths crossed on the leafy lanes of Charnwood Forest?

Allison said...

This is cool!

Tobias said...

Hi, I have an imperial 65 that I am restoring and I have disassembled it into its three parts, the carriage the main body and the type unit, however rhere are two issues that I can't work out. The first is how to put the type unit back in, each time I have attempted putting the type unit back into the body the black piece on top where the typebars slot into when they hit the paper is hitting the bottom of the spool cover even when I have the shift key depressed to lower it. The other problem is the carriage keeps moving back to its starting position. It's as if the carriage lock isn't working or maybe I put too much tension on the motor.
Do you have any advice as to how to remedy these issues.

Robert Messenger said...

Tobias, don't screw the top plate back down until the typebar/keyboard section is back in place. The top plate needs to be slightly elevated. Maybe unscrew the front two screws and loosen the back two, that might give you just enough elevation. I gather that on taking the carriage off the drawband remained taut? The other problem sounds as if the carriage hasn't been properly reattached. It needs to sit completely flat on the two grips before you let go of the release levers. What have you done to hold the drawband taut during all this? Once the keyboard/typebasket is properly back in place, you may find the carriage moves properly? Hard to say without seeing what's you've done.

Tobias said...

The drawband had perished so I had to order a "new" one from an identical typewriter. The other thing is oiling the typewriter, what parts do I oil and what parts don't I oil, I have given it a dunk cleaning twice. When I received it it was full of leaves and insects and the like so it looks quite clean now, however about 5 of the keys are still quite sticky in that once I push the key the typebar is very slow in returning to its resting position or it doesn't move at all. The only way to remedy this is to lift the key back up from the keyboard.

Anonymous said...

Hello Robert. Thank you for your Blog on Imperial Typewriters, Leicester, UK. Arthur Pateman's eldest daughter Margaret (Bunty) was a big part of my husband's family. Bunty was the long time partner of my husband's grandfather. She also loved anything to do with cars and was still driving well into her 80's. Bunty was a lovely generous lady who lived in Nottingham. She had a sharp brain and used to enjoy watching quiz shows on TV. I have fond memories of her. She was always kind to me. I still have some photos of her. Would you allow me to use a link to your blog for our family history tree please?
From Carol Pratt

Anonymous said...

I've owned my Imperial 66 typewriter for 47 years. I purchased it when I worked at Joseph Lucas Electrical Ltd, the car factory in Birmingham and it has been around the world with me twice to Australia and back. I cannot bear to part with it and it takes pride of place in my lounge. It was built to last and is still working well and I shall probably hold on to it forever.

goldilocks said...

Hi Robert

As an ex typewriter engineer working on the Imperial range of products in the 1970's, I thought you may find this info. of use.
Imperial had a dedicated factory in Hull to produce portables. Good Companions were produced there followed by the Messenger.As far as I remember, the factory was closed at the Litton takeover. Most portables post Litton were japanese Silver Reed badged Imperial/Royal: Imperial Signet, 200,220, electric 300. The Imperial Safari portable was a Royal design,later models manufactured in Portugal.
The only Imperial Electric pre Litton/Royal was the ELE.
Post Litton electrics were the 660,770,775,790,795, all Royal designs. A deluxe model 970 was also introduced which was the Triumph Adler 21d in Royal/Imperial casing. The last Imperial manual was the model 90, again a badged Triumph Adler Universal 200.

Kind regards

Robert Messenger said...

Thank you for this Simon. You will find all of this info and a lot more on other posts on this blog, in particular about Imperial portables, but also the standards and electrics.

Unknown said...

Hi Simon

I have an Imperial 60 in nearly new condition if you would like any pictures for your blog let me let me know.