Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 148,405 pages of information and 233,863 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Noel Penny

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(Robert) Noel Penny (1926- ), a major contributor to putting gas-turbine-powered cars on the roads in the 1950s and early 60s.

1926 Born in Coventry[1]

WWII Apprenticed at Keelavite Hydraulics Co

Post-WWII Worked for Atomic Energy Research. Offered position of plant manager at the new Capenhurst separation plant but turned it down. Also offered a position working on cyclotron development at Birmingham University

Instead went to work for Rover in 1952

1952 Rover Gas Turbines Ltd was formed under Charles Spencer King; Frank Bell was in charge of gas turbine development. Penny was appointed technical assistant responsible for high speed bearings and fuel system development.

c.1964 Chief engineer of Rover Gas Turbines Ltd[2]

One of the team that developed the pioneer Rover gas turbine car.

After Rover became part of Leyland, the focus was on use of gas turbines in lorries.

1971 Penny resigned as chief executive of British Leyland Gas Turbines; he still believed there was a future for gas turbines in cars[3]

He set up his own business at Coventry - Noel Penny Turbines.[4][5]

1982 He was awarded the R. Tom Sawyer award from the board of governors of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers for his pioneering efforts. Penny became only the third Britain to ever gain the award - the first being Sir Frank Whittle, father of the British jet engine.[6]

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. BMD
  2. The Times, Apr 28, 1964
  3. The Times, Jun 28, 1971
  4. The Engineer 1982/04/22
  5. The Times, Mar 15, 1972
  6. The Engineer 1982/04/22
  • The "nearly" engine, By John Mortimer