Handley Page Ltd.

Handley Page Ltd was incorporated on 17th June 1909, and was founded by Sir Frederick Handley Page (1885-1962). They were based in Creekmouth, Barking, Essex and had offices in Victoria Steet, Westminster.

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In the early days they made all sorts of components for the early pioneers of flight. Handley Page supplied the propeller for the Oakington Monoplane. The relationship with Handley Page appears to be more than just that of a supplier of a propeller. HP’s offices in Victoria Steet, Westminster were less than two miles from The Regent Street Polytechnic, where Feary was an instructor. At that time HP were suppliers of all sort of components for the budding aeroplane builder including wire ropes, strainers, eye bolts, bamboo, steel tubing and aluminium sheet.

Advert for The Handley Page Bluebird from Flight 19th March 1910

It is very likely that Grose & Feary would have used HP for all these supplies and all most certainly for the rubber cloth. An HP advert from 1909, advertises their stock of ‘1,000 yards of North British Rubber proofed fabric’. It was this fabric that was used on HP’s Type A monoplane of 1910 and was the reason for the monoplane being known as ‘Bluebird’ due to it’s blue/grey colour. The similarity between the two monoplanes continues with the engine, as the 20 hp Advance V4 was also chosen to power Bluebird. The Type A was not complete in March 1909 when it was exhibited at Olympia, but after the show it was finished and Handley Page set about getting his plane airborne. The Advance gave it’s full power for only about 1 to 2 minutes after being persuaded to start. At first it was too cold to run up to speed, then it overheated rapidly unless the aeroplane could actually be kept moving at more than 30mph. HP kept trying with changing wind speed & direction, engine revs & temperature, C of G location & elevator angle to trim.. However his tenacity paid of and he managed a short flight in the Type A on 26th May 1910. After several adjustments a few more hops were accomplished. The first attempt to change direction ended in a crash. Advance engines were also used the Dixon Nipper No.1, designed & built by H.S.Dixon during 1911 and the Hammond Monoplane which was built at Brooklands during the summer of 1913.

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However the H.P. propeller was not the last product to be sent to Oakington. In 1939 the fields where Grose & Feary attempted to take off, became Oakington Airfield. The airfield stayed in constant use until 1974 when Handley Page Jetstreams were sent to No.5 Flying Training School there. It was that year that as part of Government cut backs both the airfield and No. 5 FTS were closed. The last Jetstream left Oakington on the 1st January 1975.

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