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GEC Whetstone Engineering

March 2010


The Engineering site at Whetstone, near Leicester was opened in 1941 as a facility to engineer and test early Jet engines. The site was initially setup by jet engine inventor Frank Whittle’s company Power Jets ltd. Their workshops produced a number of experimental jet engines. However In 1944 Power Jets was Nationalised and Frank whittle left the company in protest at his lack of control. Within two years the decision was taken to centralise research and new facilities were built at the National Gas Turbine establishment in Farnborough. The Whetstone site then passed into the control of the General Electric Company.

By the late 1940’s it became an important center for the rapidly growing nuclear industry. The Atomic Power Division produced specialist components, prefabricated parts and control systems for the early nuclear industry. Research was at the cutting edge and The work carried out at whetstone fed into the program that created the worlds first commercial scale nuclear reactor. It went on to play an important role in the construction and development of the Magnox Reactors.

Computer research was also an important part of the work conducted at Whetstone. In the late 1950’s the site had two Early DEUCE computers. These were used for the calculation of engineering problems, conducting projections and simulations. As well as Writing programs for use in nuclear controls and further research into early computer science.

Whetstone was also home to a number of other important divisions of GEC including their and mechanical engineering laboratories, which continued research into gas turbines for power applications. Some activity continues on site under the name of Alsthom other parts have been let to other companies the remainder is now derelict.














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