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Who was Robert Blackburn?

7th April 2015

Robert Blackburn, OBE, FRAeS (26 March 1885 to 10 September 1955) was an English aviation pioneer and the founder of Blackburn Aircraft.

Blackburn was born in Kirkstall, Leeds,Yorkshire,England. He attended;Leeds Modern School and graduated in engineering at the University of Leeds, building his first aircraft in 1909 (a monoplane). He made his first short flight on the beach at Filey Sands in the spring of 1909 but this aircraft was badly damaged in 1910 when flying the aircraft, he attempted to make a turn and lost control of the plane.

He then moved to Filey and built a second monoplane which established his reputation as an aviation pioneer. He founded the Blackburn Aeroplane Company in 1911, then creating the Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company in 1914.  He opened a factory at Roundhay, Leeds in 1914, before establishing the company in a new factory on the banks of the River Humber in Brough, East Riding of Yorkshire in 1916.

He introduced the first scheduled air service in Great Britain, offering half-hourly flights between Leeds and Bradford. In 1919 he set up the North Sea Aerial Navigation Company, using surplus World War I aeroplanes, which operated a regular passenger service between Leeds and Hounslow, London as well as cargo flights between cities, including between Leeds and Amsterdam. In 1917 Blackburn and his wife purchased Bowcliffe Hall at Bramham, near Wetherby as their home.

He was the founder of Scarcroft golf club. In 1950 he retired, leaving Bowcliffe Hall and moving to Devon. On his death in Devon in 1955 the Blackburn company production facilities became part of Hawker Siddeley.

Posted By HEP Communications | 7 April 2015

Photo credits: BAE System (Operations) Ltd.