Made in Preston, the website about Preston, Lancashire




Aircraft Engines

Thousands of aero-engines have been delivered to the aircraft factories of Preston. Not one of them was built in Preston. However there is a surprising amount of engine manufacturing in the area around Preston.

Lancashire County Council published a booklet called;

'Classic and Modern Aero-Engines associated with Lancashire and the North West of England'

This booklet covers a wider geographic range than this site should permit. It starts by relating to Alliott Verdon Roe who built a factory specifically for manufacturing aircraft in 1910 in Manchester. The booklet states this was the first aircraft specific factory in the world. Engines for his aircraft were built in Bolton by two brothers called Edwards who submitted a patent for an engine with 2 horizontally opposed cylinders developing 15hp. Engine power developed to 300hp by the end of the First World War.

Activity continued with a new factory in Lostock north of Bolton which was built as a 'shadow' factory for the de Havilland Airscrew Company to increase production for the Second World War. Many thousand propellors were built in the Lostock factory which continues today as a missile factory.

Also in 1939 a new factory at Clayton le Moors, Accrington, was built as a 'shadow' factory for Bristol Aeroplane Company Hercules engines which developed 1725hp. In addition an engine equipment factory was built around the same time very close-by.

The Base Air Depot No.2 at Warton near Preston overhauled and repaired engines for the US Air Force throughout the war.

East Lancashire became a hotspot for engine shadow factories with both Lucas and Rover taking over former cotton mills. Barnoldswick worked on the W2 Jet Engine being built by Rover from Whittles design. In 1943 it was agreed that Rolls Royce would take over the Rover factories and produced the RB23 Welland jet engine. The first engine designed and built at Barnoldswick was the RB41 Nene engine from 1944. Also the RB65 Avon was designed at Barnoldswick. Since then the work has changed to providing parts for engines such as fan blades. The workforce was around 10,000 at both factories until about 30years ago when it started to decrease and is about 2000 now. Barnoldswick holds a special place in Rolls Royce terminology with the 'B' in RB meaning Rolls Royce Barnoldswick.

The north-west also has Metropolitan-Vickers of Manchester with their axial flow engines, Sapphire, Beryl and Freda jet engines. Also Napiers of Liverpool with their 3500hp engine.

16-Feb-2016 Contact the site author