100 Years of the Turgo


Gilbert Gilkes and Gordon Ltd, is this year celebrating the Centenary of its Turgo Impulse Turbine. The Turgo was designed by Gilkes in 1919 by the Grandfather of Gilkes current Chairman. Almost immediately after returning from the war he conceived the idea of a side entry impulse turbine which would run, typically, at twice the speed of a Pelton turbine when operating on the same head. Thus was the "Turgo Impulse Turbine” born and a Patent was applied for in 1919 and granted to the young engineer, Eric Crewdson.

100 years later and the Turgo maintains its place as one of the most popular hydropower turbine designs, testament to the longevity of the original design and technology.

The first ever 30kw Turgo was installed at Invergeldie Lodge near Crieff in Scotland in 1919 and there are now over 1,000 installations worldwide, ranging from 25kW to 7.5MW. To date Gilkes have supplied Turgo turbines to 65 countries. Installations are located from Grytviken, South Georgia [The most southerly hydro installation in the world] to Alaska and from Japan to Zimbabwe. With hydro installations over 100 years old still generating today the enduring performance of Gilkes turbines is well proven. To keep the Turgo attractive in an increasingly competitive market Gilkes continually look to improve its invention. Innovation is congruent with the Gilkes business strategy and strategic business objectives, and over the last 5 years improvement processes have been driven by significant investment in research and development capabilities with the aim of producing new designs with enhanced efficiency.

Validated Gilkes product developments like the optimised Turgo runner and injector are introduced as standard to all new turbines and can also be included in plant modernisation upgrades meaning that many lasting partnerships between turbine supplier and turbine owner have been formed.  

Eric Crewdson died in 1967 but his legacy to Gilkes lives on in the modern versions of the Turgo Impulse Turbine which will continue to make a major contribution to hydropower around the world.  

Charles Crewdson OBE, Chairman, Gilkes: ‘During four hard years on the Battlefields of World War One, my grandfather was already thinking to the future, and succeeded in patenting his design and selling the first Turgo within months of leaving the Army. It is a truly astounding feat, and has great resonance today as the Company attempts to think through the World’s troubles and do what is best. We couldn’t have a better role model’.

All of this means the Turgo can quietly look forward to its next 100 years.

Download the history of the Turgo