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Hydraulics Innovation in Gloucestershire ben lee

History of hydraulics innovation in Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire has a rich history of engineering design and manufacturing. Many of today’s high tech manufacturers have businesses built on this heritage or pedigree.


Fielding and Platt were approached in 1871 by Ralph Hart Tweddell with his portable hydraulic riveter invention, this was then patented in 1876. They went on to produce many hydraulic products

Hydraulic lifts for Blackpool tower in 1878

Hydraulic accumulators for 4500 psi (310 bar) were built in 1888,

Press for making hydraulically pressed concrete slabs in 1890

Metal working Extrusion presses, 1950-1970

Aluminium stretchers 1960’s

Gloucestershire (Gloster) Aircraft Company formed in 1917, manufactured aircraft such as the Gladiator, Meteor, Hurricane and Typhoons in Brockworth up until 1964 when it was rebranded by Hawker Siddeley. In 1940 GAC received a contract from the Ministry to produce an aircraft to test Sir Frank Whittles Jet Engine, the Gloster E.28/39. With many innovations in aircraft design the Gloster E.28/29 utilized a 1500psi hydraulic accumulator to retract the undercarriage. This was backed-up by a pilots hand pump for emergencies. This landing gear system was supplied by Dowty Aviation.


In 1935 ex-employee of Gloster Aircraft Company, Sir George Dowty, started Dowty Aviation manufacturing the first internally sprung aircraft wheel (used on the Gloster Gladiator) later developing these into the modern hydraulic undercarriage. With this success the Dowty group expanded in many areas.


Dowty Mining was founded from a development of the undercarriage pioneering. Launching the first hydraulic pit prop in 1947. This range of products led to increases in outputs and safety in the worlds longwall coal mining.

Dowty Hydraulic Units designed and manufactured waterjet propulsion equipment beginning in the late-1950's. Up until its break-up in 1990’s these Gloucestershire based manufacturers developed high pressure gear pumps, motors and Servo Valve controls as well as rail speed retarders used worldwide in rail freight yards.

These pioneering companies have left a legacy of hydraulic design and innovation throughout the people of Gloucestershire.

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