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Based on “Skinner’s Union – A History of the Skinner Family and S. U. Company” by Mike Harvey, published by The S. U. Carburetter Co. in 2015.
The Skinner Family
& S.U. Carburetters
W Banks Skinner
Jane Skinner (nee Lilley) c1871
William Banks Skinner c1871

Mr. William Banks Skinner was born in Rushden in 1848, son of George Skinner, butcher, farmer and churchwarden. He was educated at Higham Ferrers Grammar School, and later at Eaton Socon.  Although he was apprenticed as a draper, he soon turned to the leather trade he had known at Rushden, and became a salesman for Thomas Lilley leather factors and shoemakers, of London, Wellingborough and Irthlingborough.

In 1871 William Banks Skinner married Jeanne (Jane) Lilley, daughter of Thomas, and they lived at Wellingborough. A son, George Herbert (Bert) was born the following year and two years later a daughter Emily was born. A move to Hampstead was followed in 1882 by the birth of another son, Thomas Carlyle (Carl) Skinner.

In 1881 Thomas Lilley junior left his father’s business and set up a new business, taking his brother-in-law, William Banks Skinner, into partnership which they named Lilley & Skinner.

William and Jane built a fine new house at 28 Park Hill, Ealing, which he called “Rushdene” in acknowledgment of his roots at Rushden. The house stood on an acre and a half plot and had a croquet lawn to the side, and a large garden. Here Jane gave birth to a third son, John Hershall (Jack) and a daughter Margaret.

In 1885 Thomas Lilley junior built himself a home next door to “Rushdene” called “The Croft.”

Jane died in 1889 and William, remarried 3 years later, now aged 44, to Isabelle Rae, eleven years his junior. They had a son, William Banks Rae Skinner in 1896. The family moved to Clacton. (Isabelle died in 1908 and WB returned to London. He was married for a third time in 1911 to Emma Florence Adams, but he died in 1914 following complications after an operation, just a few months after his father’s death.)

George Herbert "Bert" Skinner
In 1895 Lilley & Skinner Ltd. built a new warehouse in Rushden, next to the village Green and close to WB’s father’s butchery business which was now in the capable hands of his brother George Henry Skinner.

George Herbert Skinner was a director of Lilley and Skinner Ltd, and he patented some of his footwear related inventions. In 1896 he learnt to drive whilst in France. Two years later he married Mabel Knight, and they lived with her father in Ealing. He bought a motor car in 1898, and was soon making improvements to it. Working with his brother Carl, and with help from their father, they continued this work.

In 1900 Bert filed a provisional patent application for some of the improvements to the carburetter. He was a founder member of the ‘Society of Patentees’ and filed at least 29 applications between 1900 and 1926.

Skinner’s Union was founded by Bert with his father and his two elder brothers, Carl and Jack, and after WWI, this became the S U Carburetter Company. Carl went into partnership with Reginald Wailes in 1906, and with a restructured company, George Wailes & Co, and under Carl's direction, Bert's experimental carburetters were built. This company continued to make the early S U Carburetters.

4 generations
c1910 l-r: Jack, his grandfather George, and father William Banks Skinner.
The child is Jack's son, John Hershell Skinner II .

The link with the Skinner family ended in 1947 when Carl retired. S U continued under BMC after Morris and Austin had merged but began to decline after 1975.

The S U trademark is now owned by Burlen Fuel Systems Ltd, who continue to supply vintage SU carburetters and fuel systems to the historic/classic car markets.

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