Odds and quads

December 31, 2009

Although it was his polymath brother Frederick who was known as Britain's answer to Leonardo da Vinci, George Lanchester was an eminent engineer in his own right.

He hand-whittled this striking collection of walking sticks, most of them made of ash, finding inspiration for his designs in the shapes of the wood and finishing them with watercolours and varnish.

Frederick Lanchester was a pioneer in automotive engineering and aerodynamics, who started the Lanchester Engine Company in 1900 with two of his brothers. When he turned his attention to the war effort in 1914, George took over as chief engineer.

Such was Frederick's fame as a local Midlands entrepreneur that the institution that became Coventry Polytechnic in 1987 and Coventry University in 1992 was previously known as Lanchester Polytechnic.

Coventry's new state-of-the-art library is also named in his honour, and its Lanchester Collection includes about 50 of George's walking sticks.

Send suggestions for this series on the sector's treasures, oddities and curiosities to: matthew.reisz@ tsleducation.com.

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