The Petter Family of Yeovil


When James Bazeley Petter married Charlotte Branscombe, his father presented him with the ironmongery business of Hanham and Gillett. Later James bought the Yeovil Foundry and Engineering works in Huish.  In 1881 following the introduction of the Nautilus Grate, one of his most successful inventions, he opened the Nautilus Grate works in Reckleford.  Queen Victoria had one installed in Osborne House on the Isle of Wight and one is held at the Community Heritage Access Centre at Lufton.


At the age of sixteen his twin sons Ernest and Percival started work at the ironmongery, which was later called James B. Petter & Sons.


The twins inherited their father's genius and in swift succession invented a steam engine, a horseless carriage, stationary engines, oil engines, including the first self-propelled oil engine, and electric vehicles. 


In 1913, the foundations of the Westland works were laid, and in 1915 the Petters offered their entire production to the War Office, forming the Westland Aircraft branch in 1916.  Agricultural machinery was being produced alongside aircraft resulting in the opening of the Plough works at Westland in 1919.


Teddy Petter continued the tradition of success in the world of aircraft with his design for the Westland Lysander in 1934.


In 1937 the Petter twins retired and in 1939 Associated British Engines Ltd. acquired the Petter engine business and Westland Aircraft went on to become a major manufacturer of helicopters.


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