Short Brothers - Prince of Wales Drive, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 28.713 W 000° 08.878
30U E 698042 N 5706901
Quick Description: This English Heritage blue plaque, erected to the Short brothers, is attached to the west side of the railway arches that run north from Prince of Wales Drive and are located in a gated area.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 1/24/2015 11:44:33 AM
Waymark Code: WMN9CJ
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member bluesnote
Views: 1

Long Description:

The English Heritage website tells us about the brothers:

Britain's first aircraft manufacturers, Horace, Eustace and Oswald Short have been commemorated with an English Heritage Blue Plaque at their former workshop in the railway arches by Queen's Circus, Battersea. The plaque was unveiled by Jenny Body OBE, the first female President of the Royal Aeronautical Society, at 2pm on Tuesday 17th September, 2013.

 The Short brothers achieved many firsts in aeronautics; they designed and built the first British-powered aircraft to complete a circular flight of a mile, they created Britain's first-ever purpose-built aircraft factory on an aerodrome on the Isle of Sheppey, Kent, and their pioneering work on the stressed skin principle of aircraft construction immediately after the First World War was acknowledged by the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors.

They are being honoured at the railway arches at Battersea; at their workshops here the brothers undertook work on ballooning (lighter than air flight) and it was here that they made the transition to aeroplane construction (heavier than air flight). The Short brothers also lived nearby, with their mother Emma, in Prince of Wales Mansions.

Jenny Body OBE, President of the Royal Aeronautical Society, said "Whilst aerospace is at the cutting edge of technology and innovation, it is built on a foundation of great heritage going back to the pioneers of aviation like the Short Brothers".

The two younger brothers, Eustace and Oswald, began their careers as showman-aeronauts. In 1901 they built their first balloon, and in October 1903 they received their first contract to construct balloons for sale. It was for two military observation balloons for the Government of India, and was followed by a repeat order in November 1904.

 Moving To Battersea

The Short brothers' association with Battersea began in June 1906 when they shifted their premises from the Tottenham Court Road district to the railway arches. This move was made under the aegis of Charles Rolls (of Rolls-Royce fame, and himself the recipient of an English Heritage Blue Plaque in 2010), who had chosen the brothers to build his entry - 'Britannia' - for the first Gordon Bennett international balloon race in September 1906.  About thirty balloons were built by the Shorts in Battersea, mostly for members of the Aero Club (later Royal Aero Club), who made the site one of their chosen flying grounds. Balloons were filled with gas from the adjoining gas works.

In August 1907 Eustace and Oswald were appointed aeronauts to the Aero Club; in October 1908 they were appointed its aeronautical engineers, in recognition of the growing interest in aeroplane flight. Knowing that their mechanical skills were limited, Eustace and Oswald invited Horace to join them in this new venture and, in December 1908, he left his employment with the engineer Sir Charles Parsons in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne to set up in formal partnership with his brothers in Battersea. However, even before Horace's arrival, Eustace and Oswald had tried their hand at aeroplane construction when, in 1907, they built a glider for the aviator (and later cabinet minister) J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon, to his own designs.

As aircraft construction became more important the focus of the Short brothers' business began to move away from Battersea, although lighter-than-air work continued and the Shorts did not leave the site until late 1919. The transition began in January 1909 when the aviator Frank McClean ordered Short No. 1; this was designed and built at Battersea, but needed a larger test site. The Shorts took a sub-lease from the  Aero Club on land at Shellbeach, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, where completion and testing of the craft took place; the factory facility the Shorts built at Shellbeach has been described as "the first actual works put down in England for building Aeroplanes adjacent to an open space for use as a flying field'. Short No. 1, however, was a disappointment - for it was under-powered, too heavy and refused to fly.
The Wright Brothers

In March 1909 the Shorts received a contract from Wilbur and Orville Wright to build six Model 'A' Wright Flyers for sale to members of the Aero Club; the Shorts received £1200 for this - the first contract for the batch production of aircraft to be placed in the United Kingdom. Even before the first Short-Wright flew, the Shorts had built Short No. 2, which had been ordered by J. T. C Moore-Brabazon in April 1909 and first demonstrated fully controlled flight by the end of the September. On 30th October Moore-Brabazon flew Short No. 2 on a circular flight of one mile to win the 'Daily Mail' prize of £1,000. Short No. 2's successful flights gave the brothers the distinction of being the UK's first sellers of a functional aeroplane as a proprietary article - and the foundation of the UK's aircraft industry may be dated from this point.

In the years before the First World War the Royal Navy was a major buyer of Short aircraft: the first Royal Navy officers to learn to fly did so in a Short aircraft (1911), the first aeroplanes bought for the Royal Navy were Short built (1911) and the first aircraft to take off from a ship of the Royal Navy was also a Short (1912); the Royal Navy's first seaplane (H1) was delivered by the company in 1912. Short aircraft gave distinguished service in the First World War, during which the U.K.'s first air-launched torpedo was dropped by a Short seaplane. After Horace's death in 1917 Oswald took over responsibility for design and carried out pioneering work in all-metal stressed-skin aircraft construction.
The War Years

The Short brothers went on to become a world-famous name in aviation. During the First World War their business was concentrated at Rochester, where the Shorts built a series of flying boats including the Singapore, Sunderland and 'Empire' airliner, which set the standard for international air travel in the late 1930s. During the Second World War the Shorts built the Sunderland flying boat and the Stirling bomber; in the late 1940s the Short business was relocated to Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the firm was acquired by the Canadian company Bombardier in 1989.

Howard Spencer, Historian for the English Heritage Blue Plaques team, said "The Short brothers were among the most outstanding British pioneers of air travel. It is excellent to be able to commemorate them in Battersea, where their formal business partnership began, and where their first heavier-than-air machine was made.'

Blue Plaque managing agency: English Heritage

Individual Recognized: The Short Brothers

Physical Address:
Battersea Railway Arches
Prince of Wales Drive
London, United Kingdom


Web Address: [Web Link]

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