Lewis, William Yorath 1875 - 1961


Born c 1874, William Yorath Lewis was a Railway Engineer who became interested in creating a system of continuous transport after seeing the “moving pavement” (Trottoir Roulant) at the Paris Exhibition in 1900. He began to collaborate with Benjamin Ratcliffe Adkins and together they patented the Adkins-Lewis System of Rapid Continuous Transport. In 1903, a trial passenger transporter was set up in Ipswich to demonstrate the Adkins-Lewis System and Lewis began to actively promote the system as an alternative to the current methods used throughout London. He gave a talk before the British Association in 1911, outlining the system as a potential solution to London’s traffic problem. After the talk, London County Council offered Lewis the lease on an island site at Aldwych, enabling public demonstrations of the Adkins-Lewis System.

Following the outbreak of the First World War, development of the system was halted, until Lewis gave a talk to the London Society in 1920, which re-awakened the public interest in the system. In 1921, Lewis entered negotiations with the Committee responsible for organising the British Empire Exhibition due to be held in 1924, with the intention of building a prototype of the Adkins-Lewis system to convey visitors around the exhibition. The negotiations led to the formation of the “Never-Stop” Transit Ltd in collaboration with Arthur Octavius Edwards.

In 1922, under the name “Never-Stop” Transit Ltd, Lewis enters a competition in Paris that invited contestants to submit alternative methods of transport to those that were currently used within the city. Following this, in 1923, Lewis entered an agreement with the British Empire Exhibition to provided them with a “Never-Stop” Railway, resulting in the formation of the subsidiary company “Never-Stop” Railway (Wembley) Ltd to deal with the administration. The exhibition ran for two seasons in 1924 and 1925 before ending due to a lack of public interest. During the same period, in 1924 a prototype of the system was completed in Southend. “Never-Stop” Transit Ltd was disbanded in 1926 and the Adkins-Lewis partnership was temporarily abandoned. Lewis went on to set up his own company, Yorath-Lewis Boilers Ltd in the 1930’s designing boilers.

Lewis resumed contact with Adkins in 1951 and together they agreed to modernise the Adkins-Lewis System, incorporating new ideas. To properly market the new “revamped” Adkins-Lewis System a new company, Lewis-Adkins Ltd, was established. The new system was remarketed as a system of rapid continuous and semi-continuous transportation for passengers, goods and raw materials. Lewis was the Managing Director and his son C Y Lewis was a member of the board. Several potential projects were targeted by Lewis for their potential to benefit from usage of his system. These included various passenger transportation schemes, coal mine transportation and adaptation to an elevator system to be used in coal mines or the London Underground. In December 1959, Lewis appeared on Television in the “Tonight” show after giving a talk to the Society of Engineers.

Lewis passed away on the 7th July 1961.