James Martin was born on 11th September 1893 in Crossgar, County Down, Ireland. He grew up on a farm among people of sturdy independence. He was a man of strong personality, upright principles, with deep religious convictions, though he was not a church-goer. From a very early age, James Martin displayed exceptional powers of inventiveness and, while still in his teens, had designed, made and sold a wide variety of machines. He had a great desire to invent and make things with his own hands, and, scorning conventional education, by dint of hard work and continuous study, he was an accomplished engineer long before the age of 21. His farmer father had died whilst Sir James was still an infant and his mother, wishing him to have a university education, took him to see a professor of engineering at Belfast University.
Whilst in his early twenties, feeling the confines of Ulster too restrictive on his ambitious outlook, Martin moved to Acton in London. In the early days at Acton, his remarkable gifts of design and engineering ingenuity were put to the task of developing and putting on the market a wide variety of useful and saleable machines ranging from small oil engines to specialised vehicles of all kinds.
In his newly formed company, James Martin was inventor, draughtsman, experimental engineer, toolmaker, fitter, assemblyman, salesman and finally, delivery driver.
After many others had tried and failed James Martin developed the first successful ejector seat which became the standard ejector seat for most fighter aircraft and which by the turn of the 21st Century had saved nearly 7,000 lives. Sir James Martin died on the 5th January 1981