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Background and early lifeEdit
Perkins was born in Peterborough, the son of John Edward Sharman Perkins, an agricultural engineer, and his wife Margaret Charlotte Long. His brother Christopher Perkins became a noted artist , and both boys were educated at Gresham's School, Holt, Norfolk. Frank attended Rugby School (1902–1904), Gresham's (1904–1907), and Emmanuel College, Cambridge, (1907-1910) gaining a pass degree in mechanical engineering in 1910.
At the beginning of the First World War, Perkins quickly volunteered, and was commissioned into the Royal Engineers, serving in its 34th divisional company in the Dardanelles, Palestine, and Egypt. He was demobilized in 1918 with the rank of major.
He was a third generation engineer, following both his grandfather and father, who both worked for Barford and Perkins, that family firm that manufactured road construction rollers/compactors, agricultural rollers, and other agricultural machinery. However, before joining the family firm at its Queen Street ironworks in Peterborough, he worked for Lawes Chemicals Ltd.
While later working at Aveling & Porter in Rochester, Kent, Perkins started working on a high-speed, light-weight, diesel engine with Charles Chapman. Before they could complete the project, Aveling & Porter went bankrupt as part of the AGE group of companies. Convinced that the scheme would be profitable in serve the agricultural tractor market, the two were forced to form their own company, Perkins Engines Company Limited, on 7 June 1932. Chapman was its technical director and Perkins its president.
Perkins would go on designing and building new engines and building the company up until 1959, when at the age of seventy he sold a majority stake to his largest customer, Massey-Ferguson. He retired from day-to-day management and died eight years later, in 1967.
In 1915, while on leave from the Royal Engineers, Perkins married Susan Gwynneth Gee, the daughter of Hugh Roberts Williams. They had one son and three daughters.
- Perkins, Francis Arthur [Frank] (1889–1967), diesel engine manufacturer by Anne Pimlott Baker in Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
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