Arthur Joseph Hungerford Pollen was born in Southwater, Sussex, 13 September 1866, the son of John Hungerford Pollen and Maria Margaret LaPrimaudaye. He was educated at the Oratory School, Birmingham, 1878-84, and Trinity College, Oxford, 1884-8. He married Maud Beatrice Lawrence in 1895, with whom he had two sons and one daughter.
He was called to the Bar by Lincoln's Inn, 1893. He stood unsuccessfully as the Liberal candidate for Walthamstow, 1895. He supplemented his income by writing for the Westminster Gazette and tutoring the sons of wealthy families, with whom he travelled to the United States, Canada and India, 1895-6. He was appointed Managing Director of the Linotype Company, 1898. After witnessing a practice firing at sea, he became interested in the challenge of improving the accuracy of naval gunnery and pursued projects with that aim at the Linotype Company, from 1900. After trials in 1905 and 1906, he was commissioned by the Admiralty to work on perfecting his ideas; but his designs for instruments were repeatedly rejected in favour of the Dreyer fire control table, 1908 and 1912. He founded the Argo Company, 1909; took out patents on his various inventions; and became a shareholder in T. Cooke and Sons of York, who manufactured his equipment, 1911. His most famous invention for improving naval gunnery rangefinding was the Argo Clock. He also became an influential commentator on naval technology and, during the First World War, worked as a journalist on "Land and Water" and as a lecturer. He toured the United States during 1917. After the war, he returned to business as Managing Director of the Linotype Company and a board member of the Birmingham Small Arms Company. In 1925, he was awarded £30,000 by the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors in recognition of the elements of the Argo clock that had been incorporated into the Dreyer fire control system without his permission.
He died at his home in London on 28 January 1937.
His publications include: "The Gun in Battle " (1912) and "The Navy in Battle" (1918).
Papers comprising articles and press cuttings about naval gunnery and tactics
Including minutes of the proceedings of the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors, 1925
Also including correspondence between Arthur Pollen and Admiral Sir Reginald Custance, 1905-35, and some papers of Admiral Sir Reginald Custance, 1909-21
The papers were deposited in Churchill Archives Centre by Arthur Pollen's son, Anthony Pollen, 1967-71, and via Jon Sumida, 1983.
The collection is open for consultation by researchers using Churchill Archives Centre, Churchill College, Cambridge. Churchill Archives Centre is open from Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm. A prior appointment and two forms of identification are required.
Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.
Please cite as Churchill Archives Centre, The Papers of Arthur Pollen, PLLN
Churchill Archives Centre also holds the papers of Admiral Sir Frederic Charles Dreyer, creator of the Dreyer fire control table, who was involved in the controversy with Arthur Pollen over their competing inventions to improve the accuracy of the Royal Navy's gunnery (reference: GBR/0014/DRYR). A collection of Arthur Pollen's papers is retained by his family and selections from it have been published in Jon Sumida, "The Pollen Papers" (1984).
Copies of the collection level description and the catalogue are available for consultation at Churchill Archives Centre, Cambridge, and the National Register of Archives, London.
This collection level description was prepared by Sophie Bridges, July 2005. The papers were catalogued by Stephen Roskill, 1971. Biographical information was obtained from the website of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.