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The Beatrice Shilling Building

Beatrice_Shilling_webBeatrice Shilling (1909  1990) was a British aeronautical engineer and motor racer. Her engineering prowess had a direct impact on the outcome of the Battle of Britain for her retro-modification to the Merlin engine. The Merlin was the engine in both the RAF's Spitfire and Hurricane fighter aircraft, which when nose-diving in a dog fight could cut out, flooding the carburettor and sometimes causing the engine to stall with potentially catastrophic consequences for the pilot and aircraft. Beatrice came up with a fix known as 'Miss Shilling’s Orifice' which restricted the fuel flow preventing the stall. Of probably greater engineering significance was the fact that the RAE Restrictor could be fitted to aircraft on station without the need for aircraft to come back to the Rolls Royce factory.

In 1929, Beatrice was one of the first female engineering undergraduates to enter Victoria University, Manchester and when she joined, there was no female title available. She also held a doctorate from the University of Surrey, was a Chartered Engineer, a member of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Women's Engineering Society.

She raced motorbikes in the 1930s, and, after the war, raced cars.  She raced regularly at Brooklands, in nearby Weybridge, where she won the Gold Star for lapping the circuit at 171 mph.


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