Ray Hooley's - Ruston-Hornsby - Engine Pages

Company History - Page 5

Ruston Gas Turbines

The wartime team led by Frank Whittle had succedded in developing the gas turbine for the jet propulsion of aircraft. After the War the team split up, some of them moving into industry. Rustons were fortunate in attracting one of the more valuable members of Whittle's team, Mr G.B.R. Feilden, together with several of his old colleagues from Power Jets Ltd. This was in 1946. By 1949 running tests were being carried out on the prototype '3CT' turbine. The success of this engine led to full-scale production of the 'TA' gas turbine commencing in 1952. (see picture below) The 1952 'TA' was rated at 1050bhp (750kW) with heat exchanger, or 1260bhp (900kW) without heat exchanger.

Ruston Gas Turbines assembly Shop 1935

In order to meet the high rate of increase in orders, the production of Ruston Gas Turbines was quadrupled in three years.
The photograph shows a portion of the production factory of Ruston Gas Turbines Ltd., at Lincoln, UK. In the background is
the production line for the basic gas turbine units, and in the foreground, packaged gas turbine sets are being assembled.

In the early 1950's, the Ruston Group had production sites at Lincoln, Grantham and Colchester (Davey-Paxman) When the 1953 Engineering & Marine Exhibition at Olympia was threatened with closure because of an electricians strike, a Ruston gas turbine saved the day. It supplied lighting throughout Olympia and the exhibition was able to carry on. The event attracted special attention and all who examined the turbine were impressed by its quietness of running and smooth output. The first Ruston turbine for an oil field application had already been sold to a Middle East company. Soon afterwards, turbines were sold for use in the new gas fields in Italy. In 1956, Ruston turbines were employed in a 'Total Energy' project at Little Rock, Arkansas, providing all the energy needs for the Park Plaza shopping centre. The 'TA' in an uprated 2500hp (1.86MW) form, was sold in large numbers. Meanwhile, several other models had been developed successfully.

Late in the 1960's, the 'TD' was produced, with an output of 4000hp (3MW) Soon after this, a demand from the oil industry resulted in the design of the more compact 'TB', rated at around 3000hp (2.24MW) The 'TB' was later sold with a rating of 5000hp (3.73MW).

The English Electric & GEC take-overs

The affairs of Ruston & Hornsby Ltd., took a dramatic turn when they were taken over by the English Electric Co. in November 1966. Two years later, English Electric were taken over by the GEC Group. This caused the complete break-up of the Lincoln company. The large diesels joined up with the English Electric Vulcan Works at Newton-le-Willows, to become Ruston Diesels Ltd. The small diesels moved to Stafford to become part of Dorman Diesels Ltd. Paxman engines and boilers continued to be built at Colchester, as Paxman Diesels Ltd. At Lincoln, excavator building continued at the Ruston Bucyrus factory.

The turbine division expanded under the name Ruston gas Turbines Ltd., and they were reinforced by the Napier Turboblower concern which was moved from Liverpool to Lincoln. The Newton-le-Willows Vulcan Works have their own remarkable links with the past - being the factory where Robert Stephenson produced large numbers of steam locomotives from 1830.

D. Napier & Son

Napiers also contributed to a very exciting chapter of the Company history. From the production of precision instruments and machines in the early 1880's they later produced a very successful range of motor cars. World War I saw them producing aero engines. The remarkable 'Lion' engine was followed by the 'Dagger' and 'Sabre' models, both of which were used in World War II. After World war II, Napiers turned their attention to the gas turbine. The successful 'Gazelle' tubro prop engine, adapted to power helicopters, was complemented by the more powerful 'Eland'. Later development work led to the introduction of the 'Scorpion' rocket engine, used in high-altitude flight. Napiers aero-engine division was eventually absorbed by Rolls-Royce Aero Engines.

In the 1940's, Napiers produced the powerful 'Deltic' engine for Admiralty use. powering many high-speed craft. The 'Deltic' was later used in British Railways main line locomotives. In the 1950's, Napier's diesel and gas turbine experience led to the development of a very successful range of turbochargers. After the English Electric/GEC merger, production of 'Deltics' went to the Paxman factory at Colchester. The turbocharger business moved from Liverpool to join Ruston Gas Turbines at Lincoln.

Ruston Gas Turbines went from strength to strength. The 500bhp (373kW) 'TE' of the 1950's was developed into the 1100bhp (820kW) 'TF' in the 1960's. Following the uprating of the 'TB', a decision was made to produce engines of higher power. The 8500bhp (6.34MW) 'Tornado' was introduced in 1981 - and in 1984 Rustons commenced the production of 15MW and 25MW units, using Rolls-Royce gas generators. The 4MW 'Typhoon' was offered to world markets in 1988. By this time the Ruston operation at Lincoln included a very successful high-tech controls centre, building flexible solid state control systems for automatic and remote operation of all Ruston gas turbine installations.

European Gas Turbines Ltd

In 1990, the joint venture of GEC and Alcatel Alsthom led to the formation of the Anglo-French company: European gas Turbines Ltd, with factories in Lincoln and Belfort, France. Current production spans a range of industrial gas turbines from 1.5MW to 212MW (see pictures below) EGT is unquestionably a world leader in the production of industrial gas turbines - and at Lincoln they are also producing vital parts for aero gas turbines. The Company has come a long way since the ploughshare days of Joseph Ruston and Richard Hornsby!.

Ruston Gas Turbines 4.9MW 'Typhoon'

Ruston Gas Turbines 4.9MW 'Typhoon'

Ruston Gas Turbines 7.5MW 'Tempest'

Ruston Gas Turbines 7.5MW 'Tempest'


An extensive archive of the Ruston/Hornsby companies is maintained by the author at Loncoln, both at the Firth Road site and at the Lincolnshire Archives Office. An average of 25 queries per week are received from researchers and owners of old steam engines, oil & gas engines, locomotives, threshing machines, excavators, tractors, motor cars etc etc from all over the world, particularly Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada.

The author has also been involved in acquiring, restoring and preserving several of the older Ruston/Hornsby products. Visitors to the Museum of Lincolnshire Life can see : traction engines, excavators (steam and oil engined) locomotives, oil and gas engines etc etc. A small collection at EGT (Firth Road) includes 2 Ruston & Hornsby cars (1920 and 1923) and a 1930 50-ton 6 cylinder oil engine from Ealing Film Studios, where it supplied DC power for arc lighting on the film sets for all of the 'Ealing comedy' films. The Company archive collection at Lincoln includes: machine registers from 1860 onwards; over 100,000 works drawings (on film) instruction books; parts lists and sales catalogues for most of the Company's products; agreement registers; photographs; patent specifications etc etc.

Access to these archives is by arrangement with the author.


Newman B. 'One Hundred Years of Good Company' Ruston & Hornsby, 1957.
Haynes W. 'History of Ruston & Hornsby Ltd., Lincoln & Grantham', 3 vols, Private Publication.
'Our Part in the Great war', Ruston & Hornsby, 1919.
'Ruston in War, 1939-1945', Ruston & Hornsby, 1945.
EGT Archives, Firth Road, Lincoln - by arrangement with the author.
Wood G.R., 'Design and development of the Tornado gas turbine', GEC Review, 3, 1, p3-12, 1987.
Sanders A.T., 'The Story of the EGT Typgoon Gas Turbine', GEC Review, 10,1, p20-30, 1996.
Scott K.R., 'Design of the Tempest Industrial Gas Turbine', GEC Review, 12, 1, p10-19, 1997.

Ray Hooley

Ray Hooley trained as a Librarian at Trent Polytechnic, Nottingham - interrupted by service in the Fleet Air Arm from 1946 to 1949. He joined BP's D'Arcy Exploration Co. in 1949, providing an information service at their Nottinghamshire-based Research Centre. When this closed down in 1957, he joined Rolls-Royce to organise a new information service for their new Rocket Division, at Spadeadam, Cumbria. When 'Blue Streak' was cancelled as a defence weapon, Ray moved to Lincoln, to reorganize the Library/Information Service at Ruston's new Research centre. Although retired in 1993, Ray continues his role of EGT Archivist and his hobby of collecting and restoring old Ruston products.

Ray Hooley

Ray Hooley, author and Ruston & Hornsby Historian

Main History menu