Edwin Alliott Verdon-Roe (AV) was already known in the early part of the 20th century for his aeroplane experiments at Brooklands and at Lee Marshes, where he finally achieved his first controlled successful flight in July 1909.
The first 'AVRO' type to be built in any real quantity was the Avro E (or Avro 500) of which 18 were manufactured and saw service with No.3, No.4 and No.5 Squadrons of the Royal Flying Corps in 1913.
The Avro 504 was developed from the Avro 500, which appeared in September 1913 and was clearly an advanced design. At the Official Trials at Farnborough it gave such an impressive demonstration that the governement placed orders in November of the same year. Orders for machines were such that larger premises were needed and on 17th March 1913 all of the materials and 75 personnel were moved to Clifton Street, Miles Platting, Manchester.
In 1914, having totally outgrown the Clifton Street site, Avro 504’s were produced in an extension to the Mather & Platt works at Newton Heath and although some adjacent land was also acquired, the full development of the facility was not completed until 1919.
The Avro 504 was to keep the company busy throughout the First World War and beyond primarily as a trainer. The 504 was an instant success with the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service and nearly 9,000 aircraft were built.
In November 1914, the RNAS used 504’s to carry out a successful raid over the Zeppelin Works on the shores of Lake Constance.
With production escalating and with a general lack of flying facilities close to the Manchester factories, AV Roe selected The Hamble on the South Coast near Portsmoth as a suitable site for the creation of a new ‘Garden City’, a place where both aeroplanes and flying boats could be built with employees living locally in 450 newly-built houses.
Although the project faltered when wartime shortages halted the development of the 300 acre site, the attraction of the South Coast was to prove instrumental in A.V. Roe’s future.
In 1924, Alexandra Park closed and their operation moved to New Hall Farm, Woodford, Cheshire which was later to become the Woodford Aerodrome. Meanwhile production continued at Newton Heath with final assembly and testing carried out at Woodford.
During 1928 Alliott Verdon-Roe sold his shares in the company and with the proceeds purchased The S.E. Saunders Company and created Saunders-Roe Limited (SARO) based at the Hamble.
With the sale of his shares to JD Siddeley, A.V. Roe & Company became part of the Armstrong Siddeley Development Company, a sister company of Armstrong Whitworth. With AV's departure from the company, his 'Personal Assistant' Roy Chadwick returned to Newton Heath to take on the role of Chief Designer.
In 1935, J.D. Siddeley merged his interests with Hawker and ownership of the 'Avro' brand passed on once more, this time to Hawker Siddeley Aircraft Limited. Surprisingly it still continued to trade under the Avro banner.
With tensions growing in Europe in 1938, Avro opened a new 750,000 sq ft factory at Greengate, Middleton, now better known as Chadderton. Over 3,000 Lancaster bombers were produced before being shipped by road to Woodford for final assembly. A year later an Experimental Department was established at the newly opened RAF Ringway (now Manchester Airport) as well as yet another factory at Yeadon Aerodrome (now Leeds Bradford Airport) for the production of over 5,500 aircraft (Anson, Lancaster, York and Lincoln). As in the first World War, Avro played a significant role providing over 7,500 Lancaster, Manchester and York bombers to the RAF.
After the war, Chadwick designed the Avro Tudor which was to be Britain’s first pressurised airliner although with the development of jet airliners at De Havilland and at Boeing in the USA, very few Tudors were ever built.
Avro answered the call in for a peace-time maritime reconnaissance patrol aircraft when the Avro Shackleton flew in April 1951. Shackleton served the RAF for over 40 years, retiring in 1991.
Sadly, Roy Chadwick died on 23rd August 1947, ironically a victim of an accident involving a prototype of his own design (Avro Tudor 2). His death was a major blow to the company although rather poignantly it was not before overseeing the design of what was probably one of Avro's most famous aircraft - The Avro Vulcan.
The Vulcan was originally designed as a nuclear strike aircraft and maintained the British nuclear deterrent throughout the early days of the Cold War. 136 aircraft were built with a number reaching notoriety during the Falkland Crisis in 1982, some 26 years after the first flight.
Much beloved at air shows until 2015, the last flying Vulcan (XH558) carried out a farewell display tour of the UK before a final show at its home base at Robin Hood Airport where it currently resides.
When Avro was finally absorbed into Hawker Siddeley Aviation Limited in July 1962, the Avro name disappeared, some thought almost forever.
However, it was to re-appear some thirty years later when in 1994 British Aerospace re-branded its 146 regional jet design and adopted the name Avro RJ (Regional Jet).
|1910||AV Roe & Company|
|1963||Hawker Siddeley Aviation|
|1908||Roe I Biplane||1923||Avro 558|
|1909||Roe I Tri-plane||1923||Avro 560|
|1910||Roe II Tri-plane||1924||Avro 557 Ava|
|1910||Roe III Tri-plane||1924||Avro 561 / 563 Andover|
|1910||Roe IV Tri-plane||1924||Avro 562 Avis|
|1911||Avro Curtiss Type||1926||Avro 566 Avenger|
|1911||Avro Farman Type||1926||Avro 571 / 572 Buffalo|
|1911||Roe Type D||1926||Avro 581 / 594 / 616 / 625 Avian|
|1912||Avro Duigan||1926||Avro 581 / 594 Avian|
|1912||Roe Type E / Type 500 / Type 502||1927||Avro 584 Avocet|
|1912||Roe Type F||1928||Avro 604 Antelope|
|1912||Roe Type G||1930||Avro 618 Ten / 619 Five / 624 Six|
|1912||Roe-Burga monoplane||1930||Avro 626 Prefect / 637 / Tatra T.126|
|1913||Avro 504 and variants||1931||Avro 608 Hawk / 622 / 626 Mailplane / 654|
|1913||Avro 511 / 514||1932||Avro 631 Cadet / 643 Cadet & Cadet II|
|1913||Avro Type H / 501 / 503||1933||Avro 621 Tutor / 624 Sea Tutor|
|1914||Avro 510 / 519||1933||Avro 638 / 639 / 640 Cadet|
|1915||Avro 508||1934||Avro 642 Eighteen|
|1915||Avro 521||1935||Avro 636 / 667|
|1916||Avro 523 Pike||1935||Avro 641 Commodore|
|1916||Avro 527||1935||Avro 652 / 652A Anson|
|1917||Avro 528||1935||Avro 671 Cierva C19 Rota|
|1917||Avro 529||1939||Avro 679 Manchester|
|917||Avro 530||1941||Avro 684 High-altitude bomber (Abandoned)|
|1918||Avro 531 Spider||1942||Avro 683 Lancaster|
|1918||Avro 533 Manchester||1942||Avro 685 York|
|1919||Avro 534 Baby||1943||Avro 691 Lancastrian|
|1919||Avro 536||1944||Avro 694 Lincoln / 695 Lincolnian|
|1919||Avro 538||1945||Avro 688 Tudor 1 / 689 Tudor II|
|1919||Avro 548||1948||Avro 701 Athena|
|1920||Avro 547||1949||Avro 696 Shackleton|
|1921||Avro 539||1949||Avro 707|
|1921||Avro 549 Aldershot||1950||Avro 706 Ashton|
|1921||Avro 552||1952||Avro 698 Vulcan|
|1922||Avro 555 Bison||1960||Avro 748|