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Author Topic: Short Brothers of Rochester  (Read 72799 times)

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Offline GP

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #117 on: March 17, 2017, 15:34:40 »
I notice several people & a TV programme have visited the Shorts Tunnels, etc.  English Heritage are advertising a visit in May for members only (all now booked up) and 60 members on the waiting list if they do another visit.

Just wondered who or what owns these tunnels, Medway Council, English Heritage or someone else?

Anyone know more?

Offline HERB COLLECTOR

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #116 on: October 19, 2016, 20:22:31 »
In 1913 Lord Northcliffe offered a prize of £10,000 to the crew of the first aeroplane to make a direct flight across the North Atlantic between any point in North America to any point in the British Isles. The flight could be made in either direction and had to be completed within 72 hours.
The Short Shamrock was one of several aircraft and crews that were attempting to win Lord Northcliffe's prize.

7th April 1919

The Transatlantic Flight.
Entrant to Fly from East to West.
Short Seaplane’s Prospects

As The Times has announced, Messrs. Short, of Rochester and Bedford, have now entered a machine for the cross-Atlantic air contest, and have decided to flu from this side.
.........The biplane with which the Atlantic flight is to be attempted was laid down on March 17.  Since then an army of men and girls have been at work upon her day and night, and to-day the wings were being finished and prepared for fixing to the body.  Mr. Short believed – and indeed most of the constructors with whom I have discussed the problem of Atlantic flight are of the same opinion – that the standard modern aeroplane of good make is quite capable of flying the journey, if room can be found aboard for sufficient fuel, and so in the Short machine, as in others that are competing, it has been decided to modify an existing type rather than design a special one; moreover, there is not now sufficient time to do anything else.
This biplane is of the same pattern, with minor adaptions, as many supplied to the Government and originally intended for war work with torpedoes.  The most impressive thing about her is the enormous aluminium petrol tank that has been fitted.  Slung just below the centre section, this gives the machine a fuel capacity of 600 gallons, which will keep her flying at from 90 to 100 miles per hour for 20 hours.  There is a special feature in the location and construction of the tank.  It has been so placed that if a forced descent has to be made at sea it can be emptied rapidly by an appliance fixed near the pilot’s seat, and will then act as a float sufficiently buoyant to keep the craft on the surface for some considerable time.
The biplane, which is painted white with grey wings and has a Union Jack in colours on her rudder, has a span of 60ft. and an over-all length of 34ft.  She is fitted with a Rolls-Royce engine of 360 h.p., dual control mechanism, wireless – both sending and receiving – and fixtures for storing food and drink for the trip.  In contrast to some machines recently seen, the Martynside “Raymor,” for example, the pilot’s seat has been placed in front of the navigator’s quarters.  She will make trial flights in a few days.  The pilot for the Atlantic flight will be Major J. C. P. Wood and the navigator Captain C. C. Wylie.  It was from these officers that the idea of entering a Short plane first came, for they approached the firm and offered their services before Mr. Short had decided to compete.....

The Shamrock was a modified Short Shirl torpedo bomber with an increased wing area, a crew of two and a large fuel tank in place of the torpedo, giving a maximum range of 3,200 miles.
The aircraft was completed at Rochester in March 1919.
Crewed by Major J. Wood (pilot) and Captain C. Wylie, it took off from Eastchurch on the 8th April 1919 to fly to Curragh from where the Atlantic flight was to start.
Rather naively they thought that they would be assisted in their navigation over the Atlantic by smoke from the funnels of ships plying the sea route. Perhaps luckily, the Shamrock ditched in the Irish Sea due to an airlock in the fuel line. The crew were rescued and the Shamrock was towed to Holyhead. It was not repaired.
A couple of photos of the Shamrock @ http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1919/1919 - 0503.html?search=short shamrock

The first air crossing of the Atlantic was made by the crew of the USN flying boat NC-4, who flew from Newfoundland to Portugal, via a stop at the Azores, May 26-27, 1919.
John Alcock and Arthur Whitten-Brown made the first non-stop Atlantic flight, June 14-15, 1919.

Photo: State Library of South Australia. PRG 280/1/29/316.

On 20 April 1919 Major J. Wood (pilot) and Captain C. Wylie (Navigator) took off from Eastchurch, England, on the first stage of their attempt to fly cross the Atlantic. The engines (sic, just one engine) on their Short Brothers flying boat (sic, landplane) failed over the Irish Sea and they ditched near Anglesey. The two men were rescued and their aircraft was towed into Holyhead.

The cylindrical object between the wheels is a fuel tank.
Herr Holger  Garmarna

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #115 on: April 14, 2016, 14:20:27 »
AlanH. Yes, much more likely- I was an apprentice Fitter & Sheet Metal Worker- as a/c are basically sheet metal. Your last sentence is very pertinent for there is no museum - or even an area at Rochester M.- that caters for the 2nd largest employer in the Medway towns - thousands!-   ( &, with the Sunderland, a most important contibutor to the " Battle of the Atlantic"). CAT. Yes, all painstakingly done by hand. Your - AHIY was the last of 12 Solents made at Rochester. These were Mk.2's & there were 5 conversions from Seafords (Mk.3's); 4 at Belfast, 1 at Hamble. Finally, 4 Solent 4's built at Belfast. BOAC & T(asman) E(mpire) A(irways) L(td.) were the initial owners. BOAC flying a scheduled route 3 times a week from Southampton to Johannesburg via the Nile & E. Africa - carrying 34 passengers it was a 4 day trip, incl. overnight stops - which ended on 10th Nov. 1950?; end of BOAC flying boat ops. TEAL had 5 Solents on scheduled services between Sydney, Fiji & Auckland - carrying 45 passengers - between 1949 & Sept.'60. Several Solents were sold 2nd hand to Aquila Airways who operated schedule services between Southampton & Madeira & the Canary Islands and Trans Oceanatic (Oz) & South Pacific (USA).

Offline AlanH

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #114 on: April 14, 2016, 08:54:36 »
Thanks Dave S. To confuse matters further, in my mind at least, it seems from family members Dad may actually have been a sheet metal worker rather than an engine fitter.
Of course memories are fading and the oldies are long gone (Dad at 52 when I was 14) but to reinforce the sheet metal worker bit was the trucks (lorries in the UK of course) he made for us out of bits of off cuts.
Whatever it's good to see these memories being put down for future generations to read and ponder upon.
Alan.
 

Offline CAT

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #113 on: April 13, 2016, 15:55:12 »
Many thanks for the info Dave Smith and AlanH. I assume that the BAOC markings in the body towards the front suggests this one was destined for commercial passenger flights? You mentioned that your own image of G-AHIL is similar, but as the first Solent. The caption I have with my collection calls this the last one built?

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #112 on: April 13, 2016, 14:16:41 »
AlanH. Your dad could have been an engine fitter (Pobjoys were popular) but well before WW2, when they made bus bodies to keep open. However, during & after the war, engines supplied by Bristol were fitted by their own personnel - always wore white overalls. Up until the take over by Blaw Knox of 18 shop in the late 40's, Shorts made medium size components there, including specials  e.g the main frame components for changing Sunderlands to the civilian versions (Mk V to Sandringham, MkIV to Solent) by removing the front & rear turrets - one of my jobs early in 1946.

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #111 on: April 13, 2016, 13:32:57 »
Well done CAT, tinkering with contrast certainly paid off. This Solent ( civil version of the MkIV Sunderland or Seaford) is standing on the slipway outside No. 3 shop, where all the flying boats were finally assembled, engines fitted & markings painted on by hand. Definitely it contains some of the parts that I made( they were always made in batches of at least a dozen), although I had left Shorts by then. I do have a similar photo' of the first Solent G-AHIL on this slip, minus the workers, as mine was clandestine.

Offline CAT

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #110 on: April 13, 2016, 11:44:37 »
The second image is another from a series I have showing a very similar scene, all of which were fairly heavily bleached, but this one adapted better to tinkering with. Shows that even then you can't get people to stand still?

Offline AlanH

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #109 on: April 13, 2016, 09:46:18 »
I'm sure I've got a copy of that pic somewhere with my old dad who was an engine fitter (or something) in it. I know I've got an original of him when they were building buses in 18 Shop I think before BK took it over some years later.
AlanH.

Offline CAT

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #108 on: April 12, 2016, 20:13:02 »
Sorry. Just did a bit of computer trickery and managed to desensitise the light levels on the image. Shows a little bit more of the plane?

Offline CAT

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #107 on: April 12, 2016, 20:05:27 »
Not sure if this is a plane built at Blaw Knox or not, but I have a picture in my collection entitled 'The last Solent flying boat built in Rochester'. Sadly the image is rather bleached, but I assume it shows the flying boat behind on the slipway with the men who built it?
The picture should be about 1950-55?

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #106 on: April 07, 2016, 17:23:26 »
Saw that prog. Generally very good & interesting. When they visited Shorts, it was a pity they didn't show a map of where the tunnels ran - just said 4-5 miles - or show a picture of at least one (iconic) Sunderland. Still, thankful for small..... They also referred to manufacturing instruments? in the tunnels but I think "stores" would have been more likely; similarly with components made in the Seaplane works. In my day, Aug.'45 - Jan. '47, the tunnels were not in use, certainly not for manufacture.

Offline AdrianPearce

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #105 on: April 06, 2016, 22:24:21 »
The tunnels were shown on the BBC TV show "Secret Britain" tonight.

Offline AlanH

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #104 on: March 07, 2016, 08:05:11 »
There used to be access to the tunnels behind Blaw Knox and I remember going down an air shaft once with others to explore. This was when I was an apprentice and fitter (and slimmer) than I am now......between 1959 - '65.
Other ways of getting in were up behind Berry Ede & White, from memory.
AlanH


Offline AdrianPearce

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Re: Short Brothers of Rochester
« Reply #103 on: March 07, 2016, 02:00:33 »
Back in March 1990, I and several members of Kent Underground Research Group were given permission to explore the air raid tunnels in the cliffs along the Esplanade at Rochester. During WW2 they were used by staff in the Shorts Seaplane factory there and several items still left in situ suggest that some work was carried out in the tunnels themselves. From memory, there is one entrance from the factory (not sure if it is still there) and the other was via a block of flats built in front of the entrance. I remember we had to be surreptitious while entering the flats access as the landlords did not want residents alarmed!

Some photos are attached.

 

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