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Castrol’s success owes much to the original philosophy of Charles Wakefield.

Our Heritage

Adding a measure of castor oil did the trick

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.

Alcock and Brown

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

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.

If you could visit Mars, who would you take with you?

Albert Einstein

If you could bring your favorite food with you, what would it be?

A salad

If you could soundtrack your journey to Mars, what would you listen to?

Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon

As well as having a heritage of passion and speed, the Castrol brand also stands for innovation and performance:

  • 2008, Castrol launched its Marine Bio range with improved environmental performance to help protect ocean life
  • 2012 NASA's Curiosity rover began its mission on Mars, lubricated by a Castrol grease
  • 2015 Castrol launched Nexcel, an oil change system designed to reduce tailpipe emissions, recycle used oil and simplify oil changes
  • 2017 Castrol launched its first bio-synthetic engine oil with 25% renewable plant-based oil

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.