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Rooke was born in New Cross, London, the younger son of F. G. Rooke. He attended Westminster City School and Addey and Stanhope School before studying Mechanical Engineering and Chemical Engineering at University College London, then served in REME until 1949, attaining the rank of Major. He married Brenda Evans in 1949, and they had a daughter, Diana, who survived him. He died 2 September 2008. Lady Rooke died in 2017.
From 1949 he worked in the gas industry, first on coal tar, then on Liquefied natural gas (LNG), pioneering the sea transport of LNG. He was aboard the ship making the first delivery of LNG to the UK in 1959.
He became Deputy Chairman of the Gas Council in 1972, and along with the Chairman, Sir Henry Jones. and Sir Arthur Hetherington, he was responsible for combining the Gas Council and 12 separate gas boards into the British Gas Corporation in 1973.
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