Fascinating career of jet engine developer

Robby Robinson
Robby Robinson
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The former managing director of Hartridge’s, who led the Buckingham firm to win the Queen’s Award for Exports and the Queen’s Award for Technology, was one of the last men living to have worked with Sir Frank Whittle on the development of the jet engine.

Eaton Holroyd Robinson, known as Robby, passed away on November 19, aged 97.

Mr Robinson was born in 1915. His father, a professional engineer, was the superintendent in charge of Woolwich Arsenal and later of the Royal Small Arms Factory in Enfield.

Robby Robinson obtained a degree in mechanical engineering from Imperial College, London, and became a post-graduate trainee for Rolls Royce Aero Engines, in Bristol.

At the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939, he was offered a commission in the Fleet Air Arm, but Rolls Royce refused to release him as engineers were vital in the manufacture of aero engines for the war effort.

In 1940, he was transferred to a secret project in Lutterworth, which turned out to be the development of the first jet engine, designed by Whittle.

After the war, Mr Robinson joined the aviation department of Shell and then became a management consultant.

In 1956 he married Shirley Reilly and in 1957 he joined Hartridge’s, becoming managing director in 1959.

The couple adopted two children, Anthony and Tessa, then had a daughter, Sarah.

Mr Robinson retired in 1980 and set up a business in export consulting.

Sadly, Shirley died in 1985.

In 1987, Mr Robinson married June Micklem, a former High Sheriff of Bucks, and moved to Winslow. Mrs Robinson passed away in April.