Erasmus Thump was born in the Spring of 1875 to Egon and Myrnalia Thump of Pillock Ford, East Sussex. He grew up in the leafy outdoors of that sleepy burgh and loved trotting down to his father's workshop to watch the workers carefully grind waffles through laborious, time-honoured and hand-crafted means.
While still a young lad, Erasmus was transfixed by the arrival of a mechanical egg-beating device procured for his mother by his father. Erasmus seemed unable to take his eyes off the engaged teeth of the two sprockets as his mother turned the handle of the device. No one in the family could have imagined the consequences of that moment.
By the time Erasmus had reached 12 years of age, he had already been cobbling together bits of things together in his father's shed for some considerable time. Egon found it all quite charming that his young boy was so inventive and could create such interesting machines, regardless of the fact that they never seemed to do anything of value. Then, one day, his father came into the shed to bring Erasmus in for tea and spotted a curious device consisting of various clockwork springs and gears with a sort of hopper on the top, and an opening halfway down one side of it. Into the hopper the young Erasmus inserted a waffle that he must have liberated from his father's works the day before, and the machine whirled into life emiting strange sounds and vibrations. But before Egon could scold the lad for nicking his prized resource, a beautifully ground waffle appeared from the opening on the side of the device. Egon was astonished! Never before had he seen a waffle dispatched with such speed and skill! In this one moment, Egon knew that his business, and the life of his family, would be forever transformed. The rest is history, quite well known to all, so we will not bore you with the retelling of the Thump success.
Erasmus was bundled off to Cambridge where he studied mathematics, physics and the new science of metallurgy in the hopes that his natural gifts in the mechanised arts could be made to flourish. Whilst at university, Erasmus' parents did everything they could to support his curious nature and drive to experiment – they even went so far as to provide him with laboratory and workshop facilities in which he might carry on his experiments.
After a long day trying to perfect his automatic shirt buttoner, Erasmus and one of his assistants, Titus Bottomly, caught sight of something, the likes of which they had never seen before. Coming up the tow path, past their bench outside their local, the Scruffulous Beggar, came a rather foppish gentleman astride a noisy, smoke-bellowing contraption. Just as it reached their bench, the machine emitted a loud bang, bits of shrapnel flew in many directions (one snapping the handle from young Bottomly's jar) and came to a rather disgraceful halt.
The gentleman rider stepped off the machine, gave it a kick and marched into the pub, no doubt to ease his jangled nerves with a pint of Stinking Poacher. Once served, and having quaffed his first draught, he meandered outside to cast his eyes over the mechanical disaster that was his relatively new, ACME Lucifer Model 3. Standing over it in rapt concentration were Erasmus and Titus.
The gentleman introduced himself as Enoch Podsnap. He was known to Erasmus as a rather infamous young man of significant wealth and appetite for adventure of all sorts. Clearly, rumours of him being the first in town with a motorised autocycle were true. Erasmus introduced himself and Titus and began quizzing Enoch about the machine at their feet. Enoch was quite frank in his estimation of the thing through the flagrant use of terms far too colourful to be repeated here.
It became clear very quickly that the vision behind this machine was sound, but the execution of its production was lacking in many areas. Not only were there worrying cracks that were beginning to appear in various places on the frame of the beast, copious quantities of oil seemed to ooze from every joint. Then, there was the ease at which the cat-gut belts that connected the motor to the rear driving wheel slipped in its pulleys, not to mention the alarming regularity of incidences of spontaneous combustion!
Erasmus listened intently as Enoch recited the litany of woes he attributed to the beast. And when he was done, he simply suggested that he bring the cycle to Erasmus' workshop where they might investigate the possibility of improving upon the machine's design so that it might prove more satisfactory. This would prove to be the genesis of The Phantom Manufacturing Company.
It was from these humble beginnings that Erasmus' contribution to the rolls of glory in the field of personal mobility would flow.
And yet, just as Erasmus, and his Phantom Manufacturing Company seemed to be gaining strength upon strength, he was struck a blow by fate's hand that would remove him all too prematurely from this mortal coil. Whilst standing outside the stable block of his country home, he let out a whistle as he watched his latest creation, the Phantom J, wheeled from its enclosure by one of his hands. His pet Spoetzel, Wolfgang, which was watching his master from an upper-storey window, responded instinctively to the sound and leapt to his master. The impact of Wolfgang's rather corpulent body upon Erasmus' head proved too much for his spindly neck and it snapped like a twig. Thus ended the short, yet eventful life, of Erasmus Thump. But was it the end of Erasmus? Thankfully not.
Through the applied intervention of his spiritualist secretary Mrs. Ramsbottom, Erasmus was plucked from the ether and put back in contact with the land of the living. To this day, Mrs. Ramsbottom offers her services as a kind of conduit for the eternal souls of Erasmus Thump, Titus Bottomly and Enoch Podsnap. When she is given leave by the staff of the Gnarled Stump Convalescent Home of Grott's End, Hampshire, and her rheumatism permits, she types communiques from the three gentlemen and gives voice to their spirits from the beyond so that the business of the Phantom Manufacturing Company may continue unhindered.