Pounder, Cuthbert Coulson (1891–1982), marine engineer, was born 12 May 1891 in Hartlepool, Co. Durham, youngest son of a family of six. His father was a blacksmith owning his own business. When he was 6 his mother died, and he was brought up by his stepmother, a Lowland Scot. On leaving school he was apprenticed to the then famous engineering company of Richardsons Westgarth, based in Hartlepool. He hated the engineering works of his day, but he found his real vocation in the design office.
In 1915 he moved to Harland & Wolff (H&W) as a draughtsman in the pipe arrangement office. He gained vital experience in his involvement in the completion of the 28,130-ton Statenham. The hull of the Statenham had been launched in 1924, but because of the fall in the demand for North Atlantic liners it remained unfinished till it was towed to Rotterdam for completion in 1927. However, all the machinery and the main pipe systems were produced by H&W, who provided all the necessary plans and data. This involved the change from Brown Curtis steam turbines to the much more efficient Parsons reaction turbines, made under licence by H&W. Pounder masterminded the changes in design, the transfer of information, and the voluminous correspondence involved.
From 1923 Pounder became involved in the development of the large, low-speed, direct-coupled diesel engines, made and developed by H&W under license from Burmeister and Wain (B&W). In 1923 the decision was made to concentrate the development and manufacture of very large engines in Belfast. Pounder was involved in the introduction of the first double-acting, four-stroke, marine diesel engines installed in the 22,000-ton Asturias and Alacantra, which entered service in 1926 and 1927. This type of engine reached its pinnacle in the engines for the 27,000-ton Britannic and Georgic, which entered service in 1930 and 1932.
In 1926 Pounder was involved in increasing the power output of marine diesels by developing pressure-charging according to the Buchi system, and later by developing under-piston pressure-charging. Up to that time diesel engines used high-pressure air-blast injection of fuel into the cylinders, which added considerably to the cost and complexity. Pounder was much involved in designing the much simpler system of solid injection, which by the mid 1930s became universally adopted for marine diesel engines, including the engines of their licenser, B&W.
In 1932 Pounder was appointed chief technical engineer, with responsibility for propelling machinery, both steam turbine and diesel engines. Though his first love was for diesel engines, nevertheless he was active for most of his life in the development of the high-speed geared steam turbines, and in particular the increase in operating pressures and temperatures, and the resulting improvements in efficiency. From 1951 he was a member, then chairman, of both the steam turbine and research committees of the Parsons and Marine Engineers Turbine Research and Development Association (PAMETRADA), set up by the marine turbine builders. His involvement in steam turbine propulsion culminated with the 48,270-ton Canberra delivered in 1961, the largest liner to have been built since the Queen Elizabeth.
After 1932 his main interest was in the development of the two-stroke diesel engine. The days of the four-stroke marine diesel were limited and B&W turned to the two-stroke and, for the larger powers required, to the double-acting, two-stroke crosshead engine. These were very complex engines and Pounder was faced with severe development problems, not least the cracking of the alloy steel cylinder covers which housed the exhaust pistons. Two of these engines, with a combined power of 12,000 h.p., were fitted to the 11,000-ton refrigerated cargo ship, the Australia Star, delivered in 1935. The largest of these engines were fitted to the 25,500-ton Stirling Castle and Warwick Castle, which were delivered in 1936.
From 1940–45 H&W were cut off from B&W, and during this period Pounder's mind turned to the single-acting, opposed-piston, crosshead engine, which was essentially an H&W design. It was in essence a much simpler engine. The first of these engines was made under licence by J. G. Kincaid Ltd in 1949. This was followed in 1953 by the turbocharged version of the engine. The largest of this design of engine to be built before Pounder retired was a ten-cylinder 25,000 h.p. engine. The two-stroke opposed-piston engines, both of the crosshead and trunk piston types, were manufactured for both marine and land-based applications. The land-based engines were used for electrical power generation (for example, in the Channel Islands) and in pumping stations (for instance, on the main crude oil pipeline from Iraq to the Mediterranean).
Pounder retired in 1964, having been made a director of H&W in 1949. In his long association with H&W he was responsible for the installation of 1,100–1,200 engines with an aggregate power of 6 million horsepower. He died on 15 October 1982 at the age of 91.
C. C. Pounder loved classical music and was an avid reader of Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. He married (1932) Winifred McCauley; they had one son (Rafton Pounder (qv) MP). He was extremely literate with a philosophical turn of mind, and he wrote many books and technical papers. He was a fellow of the Institute of Marine Engineers, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, the Royal Institution of Naval Architects, and the Institution of Civil Engineers, and received numerous prizes and awards. Like many ‘great engineers’, he did not suffer fools gladly, and his relationships with some of his senior colleagues – in particular Sir Frederick Rebbeck (qv), chairman of H&W – were notoriously poor. On the other hand he sang the praises of his colleagues in the drawing office, and of H&W, which he considered was the finest shipyard in the world, as indeed it was in his lifetime.