List entry

List entry Summary

This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

Name: LADYWOOD WORKS (THE OFFICES AND THAT PART KNOWN AS B3 UNIT B ADJACENT TO THE NORTH, ONCE OCCUPIED BY SIR FRANK WHITTLE AND POWER JETS LTD.)

List entry Number: 1392641

Location

LADYWOOD WORKS (THE OFFICES AND THAT PART KNOWN AS B3 UNIT B ADJACENT TO THE NORTH, ONCE OCCUPIED BY SIR FRANK WHITTLE AND POWER JETS LTD.), LEICESTER ROAD

The building may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

County District District Type Parish
LeicestershireHarboroughDistrict AuthorityLutterworth

National Park: Not applicable to this List entry.

Grade: II*

Date first listed: 11-Dec-2006

Date of most recent amendment: Not applicable to this List entry.

Legacy System Information

The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System: LBS

UID: 500188

Asset Groupings

This list entry does not comprise part of an Asset Grouping. Asset Groupings are not part of the official record but are added later for information.

List entry Description

Summary of Building

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Reasons for Designation

The early C20 buildings where Sir Frank Whittle in 1938-41 developed and built the first viable jet engine which was installed in the Whittle/Gloster E28/39. This plane had its maiden flight at RAF Cranwell on May 15, 1941. The engine is now in the Science Museum, London. A version of this engine was built and shipped by Whittle from this works to the USA to found the North American and subsequently the world-wide jet industry.

History

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.

Details

LUTTERWORTH

1323/0/10003 LEICESTER ROAD 11-DEC-06 (East side) LADYWOOD WORKS (the offices and that part known as B3 Unit B adjacent to the north, once occupied by Sir Frank Whittle and Power Jets Ltd.) II*

Factory offices with attached area of factory buildings, the part now known as B3 Unit B. Earlier C20. Red brick with slate roofs and coped gables and factory with north-light roofs. Offices are of 2 storeys, factory single-storey. Office building has a rendered front and a 10-window range at first floor with various windows and doors below, the cross windows being original.

Various offices with steel truss roofs, including that to far right first floor where Sir Frank Whittle worked. There is an internal window which looks down on the factory interior. This office has now been joined with that next door. The factory interior also has steel truss roofs and the part which is of special historic interest consists of the first two bays of north-light roof. It includes the piece which comes forward to the left of the office building and has a recent corrugated metal front. The rest of the factory was not used by Whittle's team and is not of special architectural or historic interest.

HISTORY The buildings at Ladywood were originally constructed for use as a foundry in the early C20 by British Thomson Houston (BTH). Whittle, a serving member of the RAF and also director of Power Jets Ltd., and his team were asked to move to the vacant buildings there in 1937 when BTH decided that the experiments and trials being undertaken at their factory in Rugby were too dangerous.

At the same time as Whittle was developing the jet engine in Britain, unbeknown to him Hans von Ohain was doing similar work, along technologically similar lines, in Germany. Whittle registered his patent in 1930, five years before Ohain took out a patent for a basically similar engine. Although Ohain made his engine operational before Whittle, for the German engine did power a Heinkel 178 into flight in 1939, it only flew three times and never went into production (Golley 1996, 80).

By January 1938, at the latest, Whittle's design team occupied the office building at Ladywood to the point of it being crowded out, as engineers were working on the stairs (Golley J. 1987). Those who worked with Whittle have produced a detailed plan of the offices showing where the various members of the team worked, often in cramped conditions. Whittle's office was on the first floor at the right hand (east) end, overlooking the railway line. On the ground floor there were the engineers' offices.

The engine was tested from April 1938 in a bay of the factory adjacent to the offices to the west, within an internal testing house now demolished. The external, low, factory wall adjoining the left (west) end of the office block marks the south wall of the original test room, through which the engine's exhaust was vented. Subsequent test houses built nearby were demolished long ago. Only the first two bays of the factory closest to the offices were utilised by the team: the first bay of the factory was used by fitters and for sheet-metal work and welding. The next bay of the north-light roof further northwards was the machine shop in 1941 (it was not used in 1940).

Whittle's jet engine was built into a Whittle/Gloster E28/39 which had its maiden flight at RAF Cranwell on May 15, 1941. The engine itself is now in the Science Museum, London.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE. The early C20 buildings where Sir Frank Whittle in 1938-41 developed, built and brought to production the first viable jet engine which was installed in the Whittle/Gloster E28/39. This plane had its maiden flight at RAF Cranwell on May 15, 1941. The engine is now in the Science Museum, London. A version of this engine was built by Whittle and shipped from this works to the USA to found the North American and subsequently the world-wide jet industry.

Whittle always considered that Ladywood Works was the most important place connected with his invention, developed in the utmost secrecy in the middle of the war. In terms of architecural quality, the interest in the buildings is limited. It is what happened in the buildings, events that helped to shape the modern world, that makes them of the utmost importance and gives the buildings an immense resonance, enhanced in part by virtue of their apparent insignificance. From such a modest start has emerged one of the great drivers of world commerce and modern life.

SOURCES. Sir Frank Whittle, The Early History of the Whittle Jet Propulsion Gas Turbine, (1945 lecture). Information from the Reactionaries (the staff who worked at Ladywood, especially Roy Fowkes). Jeff Smith, Lutterworth Museum John Golley, Whittle, the True Story, 1987, now reprinted as Genesis of the Jet, 1996.

Selected Sources

Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details

National Grid Reference: SP 54805 85196

Map


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This copy shows the entry on 27-Nov-2014 at 08:41:11.