Castrol’s success owes much to the original philosophy of Charles Wakefield.
Castrol was founded by Charles “Cheers” Wakefield under the name of ‘CC Wakefield & Company’. In 1899 Charles left a job at Vacuum Oil to start a new business selling lubricants for trains and heavy machinery.
Early in the new century, Wakefield took a personal interest in two sporty new motorised contraptions – the automobile and the aeroplane. The company started developing lubricants for these new engines, which needed oils that were runny enough to work from cold at start-up and thick enough to keep working at very high temperatures. Wakefield researchers found that adding a measure of castor oil, a vegetable oil made from castor beans, did the trick nicely. They called the new product “Castrol.” In 1919 John Alcock and Arthur Brown choose Castrol to lubricate their engine on the first trans-Atlantic flight.
Having helped pioneer a new kind of motor oil, CC Wakefield pioneered a new method of getting customers to notice the product: sponsorship. The Castrol name appeared on banners and flags at competitive aviation events, auto races and at attempts to break the land speed record.
By 1960, the name of the motor oil had all but eclipsed that of the company’s larger-than-life founder, and so ‘CC Wakefield& Company’ became, simply, Castrol Ltd. In 1966 The Burmah Oil Company bought Castrol and in 2000 Burmah-Castrol was purchased by BP.
David Eyton is the former head of innovation & engineering at bp. His varied career at bp has spanned over 40 years and he was awarded a CBE for his contributions to engineering and energy in the UK.
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As well as having a heritage of passion and speed, the Castrol brand also stands for innovation and performance:
Today Castrol is developing and testing new products and business models to adapt to developments in sustainability, mobility and digitisation. Recent developments include:
Castrol’s success owes much to the original philosophy of Charles Wakefield. He drew on the help and encouragement of his customers in developing his new Castrol Oils, because he had the foresight to see that working in partnership was the best way to achieve success for both parties. This rationale is as relevant today as it was then.
Since the late 19th century, Castrol has always been at the cutting-edge for engine oil technology and innovation. Founder Charles Wakefield worked with customers and world-leading pioneers in the motorcar, motorcycle and aviation industries to create ground-breaking products.