March 14, 1939
The King and Queen at Rochester - Tour of Aircraft Works
The King and Queen spent more than an hour today in one of the most crowded and active aircraft factories in the land. They travelled by road to Rochester to visit the works of Messrs Short Bros,where whole fleets of flying-boats for the ocean routes of Imperial Airways and for the service of the R.A.F. are in course of construction. They watched blue prints being made. They saw aircraft parts being beaten into shape with a mallet or machined to precise limits,or being fitted together with jigs. Finally they stood on the slipway in the rain to watch one of the military boats, launched only last night, take off on its first flight.
They must have walked fully a mile on their way from the entrance gate through shops and subterranean passages to the exit at the far end. In the course of their walk the King and Queen talked to many of the men and women in their overalls. At one point in the tour the King and Queen walked far into the catacombs driven into the hill behind the works. These underground passages,from 60 ft. to 300 ft. under the surface,serve as the air raid shelter for all the thousands of employees. The figure of the Queen dressed in a violet costume and hat trimmed with fur,was watched by many of the workpeople as it passed deeper into the well-lit burrow and at last vanished round a bend far into the heart of the hill. Returning from the 600 ft. long shelter.
They went on to the shop where hundreds of wing-tip floats were being made,and next they found themselves in a shop where the hulls of many Sunderlands were being put together on huge jigs. By this time the heavy clouds had brought a cold rain,but as the visitors emerged the four engines of the latest Sunderland began to roar and the flying-boat moved steadily away and lifting off the water climbed over Rochester bridge. Their majesties stood on the river bank while the big seaplane circled over the works,an umbrella held thoughtfully high enough over the Queen to protect her hat without obscuring her view. Afterwards they drove away to Rochester aerodrome to see the land aircraft which are being built there. The King and Queen were guided on these tours of inspection by Mr. Oswald Short.