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British Industrial History

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Stanley Hooker

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Dr. (Sir) Stanley G. Hooker of Rolls-Royce, (1907–1984), engineer and aero-engine designer

1907 Birth of Stanley George Hooker on 30 September 1907 on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, the youngest child of William Harry Hooker, flour miller and later a carrier, and his wife, Ellen Mary Russell, of Ruckinge, Ashford, Kent.

Attended Borden Grammar school

1926 read mathematics at Imperial College, London.

1928 Won the Busk studentship in aeronautics

1930 Awarded the Armourers and Brasiers' research fellowship

1935 DPhil at Brasenose College, Oxford. Worked at the Admiralty laboratories, Teddington, and then moved to Woolwich Arsenal,

1937 Hooker married the Hon. Margaret Bradbury, daughter of Baron Bradbury

1938 Joined Rolls-Royce. Raised the efficiency of Merlin superchargers from 68 to 76 per cent; placed in charge of supercharger development.

1940 Hooker met Frank Whittle and then persuaded Ernest Hives to help the gas turbine development with particular parts from Rolls's supercharger division.

By 1941 Rolls had developed a two-speed, two-stage intercooled supercharger for the Merlin 60 engine which dramatically improved the speed and the rate of climb of the Spitfire.

1942 Spencer Wilks of Rover met Hives and Hooker at the Swan and Royal pub near the Barnoldswick factory to discuss the problems between Rover and Whittle. They decided to trade the jet factory at Barnoldswick for Rolls' tank engine factory in Nottingham. A handshake sealed the deal. The handover took place on January 1 1943, although the official date was later.

1943 January: a team from Rolls-Royce was put in charge of the Rover workshops, with Hooker as chief engineer and Leslie Buckler as works manager, to help the development of Frank Whittle's W.2B/23 jet engine, which became the Welland. Buckler quickly overcame turbine blade shortages, production capacity was increased tenfold. The B/37 turbo-jet, the Nene, and the Derwent engines, all centrifugals, were rapidly developed at Barnoldswick under Hooker.

1943 Believing that turbo-jets would be unsuitable for transport aircraft, Hooker started turbo-prop work in 1943.

1944 The Trent became the world's first turbo-prop to fly. The Clyde turbo-prop became the first to do the 150-hour military/civil type test.

Post-WWII Hooker was suffering from overwork and went to Argentina to recuperate. Barnoldswick Engineering was moved to Derby. On his return Hooker struggled with stubborn troubles with the Avon engine but could not solve them quickly.

Hooker was made chief research engineer.

1948 Joined Bristol Engine Co

1949 Tackled the Bristol Proteus turbo-prop, power plant of the Bristol Britannia.

1950 The two-shaft Bristol Olympus turbo-jet started testing, as Hooker became chief engineer.

1950 Hooker married Kate Maria, daughter of Herbert George Pope, licensed victualler, and former wife of Gordon Garth.

1953 With growing interest in VTOL, Hooker preferred the Gyroptère concept of Michel Wibault. Using the Orpheus compressor (the turbo-jet engine that Bristol started to develop for the Gnat fighter in 1953), Bristol created the Pegasus vectored thrust turbo-fan.

1962 Fellow of the Royal Society

1966 Rolls-Royce acquired Bristol but did not appoint Hooker to the main board

1966 Shared with A. A. Lombard the James Clayton Prize for 1966, for his work on jet engines.

1970 Hooker retired in September but a month later returned as technical director to help the Derby works with the RB211's troubles.

1973 Awarded an honorary professorship of Peking Institute of Aeronautical Sciences.

1974 Knighted

1984 Died in Bristol

See Also

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Sources of Information

  • The Magic of a Name by Peter Pugh. Published 2002. ISBN 1 84046 151 9
  • Biography of Stanley Hooker, ODNB