Martin was born in Crossgar in 1893. He trained as an engineer establishing his own firm in 1929. In those days it was an all-embracing company. Martin was inventor, draughtsman, experimental engineer, toolmaker, fitter, assemblyman, salesman and, finally, delivery driver - it is on record that he designed and made a rather specialised road vehicle for a customer in Manchester and, on completion, drove it through the night in order to save the expense of hiring a delivery driver.
In 1934, Captain Valentine Baker, a flying instructor, became a partner and together they formed the Martin-Baker Aircraft Company Ltd. Sadly in 1942, Baker died when the MB-3 he was flying crashed after engine failure during landing. In 1944 the Air ministry asked Martin-Baker to develop an ejection seat as in the new age of jets, baling out of an aircraft had become impractical or impossible. Martin set about this task and in 1945 carried out the first test with dummies from the Defiant aircraft. It was found that most effective way of ejection was to have an explosive charge that forces the seat up into the air. On 24th July 1946, Bernard Lynch was the first person to participate in a live test. The first person to be saved by a Martin-Baker ejection seat was test pilot John Lancaster who ejected form an A52 'flying wing'. Since then over 6,900 lives have been saved by Martin-Baker ejection seats and the company is now the largest supplier of ejection seats worldwide.