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Jet engineer was a gifted designer with a long career

Robert Blackhurst. (s)
Robert Blackhurst. (s)
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A man who started his career as an engineer in Clitheroe, working on Sir Frank Whittle’s early jet designs, has died at the age of 89.

A man who started his career as an engineer in Clitheroe, working on Sir Frank Whittle’s early jet designs, has died at the age of 89.

Robert Blackhurst (Bob) and his wife Jean were married for 67 years and lived in Ripley, Yorkshire, for more than 50 years, before moving to Wimbourne in Dorset and then to the Isle of Wight in their retirement.

Born in Lancashire, Bob was educated at Clitheroe Royal Grammar School and on leaving, went on to join Rover as an apprentice jet engineer, with his job split between Waterloo Mill in Clitheroe and Rolls Royce in nearby Barnoldswick.

There, he worked on early jet engine designs which eventually became the Rolls Royce Derwent jet engine, which was used to power the Gloster Meteor, Britain’s first ever jet fighter.

Rolls Royce subsequently took over from Rover and Bob moved with them to Derby as a design engineer, where he worked until his retirement in 1982 having become an authority on the manufacture of jet engine components utilising composite materials.

After declining offers of employment in the USA, he continued his work in Derby, designing components and registering hundreds of patents of his own design, many of which are now operating in the RB211 engine.

Robert leaves Jean, his children Lynne and Robert and grandson Matthew.