HANDLEY PAGE

Frederick Handley Page, born 1885, electrical engineer 1903-09, formed world’s first public company solely for construction of aeroplanes, Handley Page Ltd, 17 June 1909. Moved from Woolwich to shed at (Barking) Creekmouth, making propellers and accessories, whilst lecturing at City & Guilds and later at Northampton Poly, London (now the City University). First aircraft. Type A Blue Bird monoplane (26 May 1910), led to improved Type D Yellow Peril (15 July 1911). Moved September 1912 to disused riding school at 110 Cricklewood Lane, N. London. Several further monoplanes and biplanes followed, with back-curved wings inspired by Weiss. On outbreak of war Cdr. Murray F. Sueter, Director of Admiralty Air Dept., asked HP to produce 'a bloody paralyser of an aeroplane'; result, O/100 bomber (17 December 1915). HP persuaded Admiralty to pay £20,000 on account; then persuaded his bank to lend same sum to finance 2 giant factory sheds at Claremont Road, Cricklewood. Here were built 46 O/100, followed by 320 O/400 and about 20 V/1500, both types also being produced by other contractors. Contracts cut at Armistice. Handley Page Transport began scheduled services August 1919 using converted O/400s followed by various purpose-designed W.8 airliners, leading to W.9 and 10 for Imperial Airways into which HP Transport merged 1924. Invention of slat 1919 (also patented by Gustav Lachmann, who became important HP aerodynamicist) brought increasing worldwide royalty payments. Encroachment of housing on airfield forced move to Radlett, Herts, 1929, Cricklewood factory remaining. Succession of fabric-covered biplanes continued until 1935. First production monoplane was H.P.54 Harrow bomber with fabric covering. Much superior H.P.52 Hampden was major wartime bomber/minelayer, 502 built plus 770 English Electric and 160 Fairchild Canada. H.P.57 Halifax heavy bomber flew 25 October 1939, total production 6,178 by HP, LAPG, Rootes, Fairey and English Electric. Post-war Halton civil conversion gave way to Hastings and Hermes transports and 50 Victor 1 (30 December 1952) and 34 Victor 2, both marks converted as tankers. HP himself knighted 1942. In June 1948 Handley Page (Reading) formed to take over former Miles factory and projects, initially Marathon and later HPR.3/7 Herald. Main Cricklewood/Radlett complex tooled up for 15 H.P.137 Jetstreams per month, but Government showed no interest in company that refused to merge in 'shotgun wedding'. Sir Frederick died 1962, and after long struggle world's first aeroplane company collapsed 1970.

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