Engineering founder retires

Enormous changes: Brian Snowdon, who set up Macawber Engineering in Doncaster back in 1974
Enormous changes: Brian Snowdon, who set up Macawber Engineering in Doncaster back in 1974
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Macawber Engineering founder Brian Snowdon is retiring from his full-time post with the Doncaster company – now part of German group Schenck Process.

Mr Snowdon, who set up the business in 1974 will continue to act as a technical consultant for the company, which develops systems for moving bulk materials in industries ranging from food processing and pharmaceuticals to cement and steel.

“We have seen enormous changes over 40 years,” said Mr Snowdon, “but the one thing that hasn’t changed is the need for industrial systems to be absolutely reliable.

“Many of the processes we provide for clients need to work around the clock, 365 days a year and any downtime can cost hundreds of thousands of pounds, so reliability is absolutely vital.”

The key to that reliability has been the Dome Valve, which Mr Snowdon invented in the 1970s and which still plays a key role in the success of the company he founded.

“When I first got involved in this business, the valves that were available were often the weakest link in any system and simply didn’t have the staying power they needed, so I came up with the idea for the Dome Valve – a simple, but extremely effective valve which opens and shuts on a quarter turn and can do that at least half a million times without the need for any maintenance,” he said.

“That invention led to huge improvements in the reliability and efficiency of pneumatic conveying systems in a wide range of industries, including coal, steel, health services and even dog food, for Pedigree Chum, for example. It has stood the test of time, creating the foundations for decades of success.”

Macawber experienced significant ups and downs over the years – most notably the year long miners’ strike in 1984, which resulted in the business collapsing and being acquired by Simon Engineering of Stockport.

Mr Snowdon continued to to apply his technical expertise to increasingly sophisticated systems through a number of other changes in ownership, culminating in its acquisition by Schenck Process last year. Today it employs more than 230 people in the UK, most of them in Doncaster.