A TRIBUTE TO BRIAN AINLEY
1st May 1936 – 15th June 2017
Brian Ainley in 2007
It is known to many of the older hands in the Electronics industry that Brian Ainley started Marl in 1973. What is less well known is the success that the Company has enjoyed in recent years and likely to from this point in time into the future - that Marl will be built on his fundamental principles of good solid engineering and customer service. We have consciously built that into the DNA of the Marl ethos - based on quality (of product and service), agility (with flexibility to respond rapidly to changing customer needs), and integrity (dealing fairly and honestly with all stakeholders).
Brian was an engineer and he told me the inspiration for that came from a fascination with electric fires when he was a very small child before the Second World War. He was also very curious and enjoyed taking things apart to try and understand how they worked. He was a successful student, very good at maths, physics and went on to specialise in Electronic Engineering, (later becoming an MIEEE). One of his best skills was truly understanding the properties of materials and how to apply this knowledge to the design process for both electronic components and systems.
Ironically, he spent some time working with Ashley Accessories on the current site of Marl Business Park in the 1950s, before living and working in Paris for a number of companies and design projects, including early Electroencephalogram (EEG) equipment. He worked for Freddie Oxley for a number of years, before starting Marl in 1973.
In his office/personal research laboratory
Brian and his family were from Huddersfield and a surprising number of links later developed between Marl and that area. Most notably in the 1970s was a collaboration with Broadbent centrifuges, which sadly followed a fatal accident at the Glaxo plant based in Ulverston in 1972. But this did lead to the development and manufacture of the Protex range of centrifuge protection equipment, which were the first Marl products and the main activity of the business in the 1970s.
The flashing LED CD cover for Pink Floyd’s Pulse album in 1995
Marl’s involvement as one of the pioneers in the LED industry is well documented, including the evolution from indication to illumination…with the creation of 8 innovative world firsts to date!
In my opinion, Brian was an engineer who was more interested in the arts. Whereas I am an artist who is fascinated with engineering. Over the past 40 years visitors to Marl, (Marl Park, The Ellers, Stone Cross and more recently Marl Business Park on the Morecambe Road site), cannot have failed to notice a collection of grand pianos- a symbol and reminder of Brian’s love for all types of music, especially classical piano. At one point he owned 17 instruments, but will be remembered more for a long standing series of annual piano concerts held at Stone Cross Mansion, which hosted some of the world’s most prestigious classical pianists.
(Left) Brian Ainley with a 1924 Steinway duo art reproducing piano
(Right) Famous Lithuanian pianist Mûza Rubackyté, after her finale at a concert at Stonecross Mansion
He worked incredibly hard to create Marl. Starting in his garage in the classic entrepreneurial fashion, working seven days a week, for many years. All who have been connected with Marl have some great memories and he will always be remembered fondly as the founder…and since then hundreds of people have worked and benefitted from the Company. Many have flown the nest and gone on to develop very successful careers elsewhere in the industry and beyond, benefitting from a solid foundation at Marl and inspiration from Brian. And for that we will always be grateful. Brian died peacefully in the early morning twilight. Departed now…but to be long remembered.
Brian Ainley and Adrian Rawlinson (with Cuthbert the crocodile in the background) in the reception of the Ellers in 1983
16th June 2017