Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Bristol Siddeley Whittle Tools

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Whilst working for one of Shell Oil's subsidiaries, Frank Whittle developed a new type of drill that was self-powered by a turbine running on the mud pumped into the hole that was used as a lubricant during drilling. Normally a well is drilled by attaching rigid sections of pipe together and powering the cutting head by spinning the pipe but Whittle's design meant that the drill had no strong mechanical connection to the head frame, allowing for much lighter piping to be used.

1957 Whittle left Shell but the project was picked up in 1961 by Bristol Siddeley Engines, who set up Bristol Siddeley Whittle Tools to further develop the concept.

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