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British Industrial History

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Peter Hooker

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Peter Hooker Ltd of Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow

The Wikipedia entry provides an excellent account of the company's history. We learn that the engineering business was established in 1827 as printers' engineers at 12 Pump Row, Old Street Road, St Luke's, later at Pear Tree Court, Farringdon Road, London EC. The founder was Peter Hooker (1817-1902), described as a Printer's Engineer and inventor.

1900 A limited liability company was formed to own the business.

1901 Operations were moved to Black Horse Lane, Walthamstow.

1909 they bought the metrology business of the Newall Engineering Co, and moved it from Warrington to Walthamstow.

1912 Sand Blast Rolling Barrel

WWI Manufacturer of the Gnome and Le Rhone aircraft engines.

WW1 the Ministry of Munitions took over the operation as the National Gauge Factories, under the management of R. J. Bray.

Post war: The company had entered into 2 large contracts (with H. G. Burford and Co and D. Napier and Son) which proved to be very unprofitable[1]. BSA had been considering purchasing the company and Aircraft Manufacturing Co with vacant possession but the existence of these contracts meant that Peter Hooker Ltd had to first be liquidated.[2]

1920 BSA took over the business of Peter Hooker Ltd.

c.1921 Started experimental work on the E. L.-S. engine[3] (see below)

1922 A local meeting was held in Walthamstow to pressure the government to allow production of the EL-S engine even though the company was in receivership.

Worked on developments of engines for the Air Ministry - a large airship engine of 1500 hp and Fell's "combined cycle unit" with 2 crankshafts running at different speeds to improve efficiency[4]. Francis Rodwell Banks was chief experimental engineer.

1926 The business was being carried on profitably[5]

1927 Engineering production ended at the site.

1928 The metrology business of Peter Hooker Ltd was bought by Sydney Player, who became chairman and managing director[6]. He set up a new operation at Ponders End, Essex, using the old name, Newall Engineering Company Limited.

1928 Possible successor company Peter Hooker (1928) Ltd, in Hall Lane, London E4[7]

1950 Leased premises at Chingford from London Rubber Co[8]



ELS Stromboli Engine

The company built the ELS Stromboli engine, intended for airships and large transport aircraft. It was enormous by aero engine standards, being 10 ft long and having 12" bore cylinders and running at low speed. It was designed by Ettore Lanzerotti Spina, (hence the acronym ELS), originally from Sicily. Hooker's works manager at the time was Hedley Thompson, who had been closely involved in the evolution of the Newall gauge system. George Purvis Bulman described the unnerving business of being near the engine when running on the test bed, particularly when it stopped suddenly with a loud bang. He noted that the development attracted young engineers and apprentices who were destined to become prominent in the aero engine field, including Eric Moult, E. L. Emtage, Reggie Schlotel, Rod Banks, and Wallace Devereux. Development stopped when the market for the engine disappeared.[9].

Air Commodore F. R. Banks wrote a letter to 'Motor Sport' magazine saying that he had been an experimental engineer to Messrs. Peter Hooker, responsible for the development of the Stromboli engine, 'designed by a charming and gentlemanly Italian engineer, Ettore Lanzerotti Spina'. The cylinder were 12" bore, 6" stroke, and the engine was designed to give 1,500 b.h.p. at 900 rpm and directly drive a 20 ft. diameter propeller. It had eight valves per cylinder (four inlets and four exhausts), this valve arrangement being the subject of a Lanzerotti patent [see US Patent No. US1459630 A ]. In early running, the crankcase, cast in "Alpax", a light silicon aluminium alloy, failed at all the main bearing diaphragms, and an all-steel crankcase was then designed and made by Peter Hooker. The highest power output achieved was 1,475 b.h.p. The Air Ministry wanted the engine to be converted from petrol to diesel, but the whole contract was cancelled in 1928, when development work had started on a single cylinder test engine.[10].


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Aug 04, 1920
  2. The Times Apr 12, 1921
  3. The Times, Sep 15, 1922
  4. The Times, Dec 06, 1977
  5. The Times, May 01, 1926
  6. The Times, Jul 03, 1936
  7. The Times, Jan 02, 1940
  8. The Times Nov 27, 1950
  9. 'An Account of Partnership - Industry, Government and the Aero Engine: The memoirs of George Purvis Bulman' edited and with a commentary by M. C. Neale, Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust, Historical Series No. 31, 2002. 376 pages
  10. 'Motor Sport', April 1974, p.74