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Jonathan John Oxton Kermode

Epithet: Marine engineer and artist (1859-1931)

Record type: Biographies

Biography: Jonathan Kermode, a marine engineer with a most inventive mind, qualified in Liverpool. It was here, in Dale Street, that he set up his engineering business, Kermode's Ltd., where he invented an innovative oil injection sprayer for the boilers of steam engines. This used the 'tangential hole' system where the air required for combustion swirled in one direction to meet the high pressure oil-spray revolving in the opposite direction, so achieving more efficient atomisation and almost smokeless burning. This must have decreased fuel consumption quite dramatically. It is also claimed, in an article in 'Manx Life' in 1976, that the sprayers led to higher speeds from the first vessel to which they were fitted - HMS Swift - in 1907. She achieved a speed of 39 knots during her trials and was the fastest of her class.

Kermode was a great friend of Charles Parsons, designer of the steam turbine, as well as another Manx inventor, Lt. Cdr. John Lindsay Quine, who recalled Parsons and Kermode sitting on top of a large turbine in a shipyard, smoking and 'swapping Manx stories'. The Kermode Oil Sprayer was used in a large number of Royal Navy vessels, with Swfit giving good service in the Dover Patrol during World War I.

Jonathan spent some time in Russia, where his sprayers were used by the government in its railway locomotives, mainly in Azerbaijan and Georgia, around Baki (Baku) and Batumi (Batum), respectively.

Besides being an outstanding engineer, Jonathan Kermode was a very capable artist with a particular interest in landscapes. As an able pupil of Archibald Knox, he had become part of the impressive Manx artistic movement of the late nineteenth century. Some of his landscapes, painted while on holiday on the Island and during his time in Russia, were exhibited in the Walker Gallery in Liverpool. At least one of his paintings is understood to be in private hands on the Island but, sadly, none of his work is held by Manx National Heritage.

Biography written by Leslie Quilliam.

(With thanks to Culture Vannin as publishers of the book: Kelly, Dollin (general editor), ‘New Manx Worthies’, Manx Heritage Foundation/Culture Vannin, 2006, pp.244-5.)

Culture Vannin


Gender: Male

Date of birth: 1859

Date of death: 19 November 1931

Name Variant: Kermode, J.J., Mr


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