Edwin Alliott Verdon-Roe (AV) was already known in the early part of the 20th century for his aeroplane experiments at Brooklands and Lee Marshes, where he finally achieved his first controlled successful flight in July 1909.
On 1st January 1910, along with his brother Humphrey, Edwin Alliott Verdon-Roe established one of the world’s first aircraft manufacturers, A.V. Roe & Company, on the basement floor of the Everards Elastic Webbing Company at Brownsfield Mill in Manchester.
At the same time, a shed was rented at Brooklands Flying Grounds to which Alliott moved his flyable machines, which he then offered for sale at £450. Design and development work continued at a pace in Manchester and by the end of 1912, the business had proved itself to be such a viable concern that on 11th January 1913 it became a full limited company.
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 (RFC) 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 in November of the same year, the government placed orders for the aircraft.
Soon after, orders for the machines were such that larger premises were desperately needed and on 17th March 1913 all of the materials and the 75 personnel were moved to Clifton Street, Miles Platting in Manchester.
In 1914 and having totally outgrown the Clifton Street site, Avro 504’s were being produced in an extension to the Mather & Platt Works at Newton Heath and although some adjacent land was already acquired, the full development of the site was not completed until 1919.
The Avro 504 was to keep the company busy throughout the First World War and beyond, primarily as a pilot trainer and was an instant success with the Royal Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service with nearly 9,000 aircraft being built. By November 1914, the aircraft had assumed many other roles and the RNAS used Avro 504’s to carry out a hugely successful raid over the Zeppelin Works on the shores of Lake Constance.
With production escalating and general lack of flying facilities close to the Manchester Factories, AV Roe selected The Hamble , on the South Coast near Portsmouth, as a suitable site for the creation of a new ‘Garden City’ and a place where both aeroplanes and flying boats could be built with employees living locally in the 450 newly-built houses. Sadly, the project faltered when wartime shortages halted the development of the 300 acre site although the attraction of the South Coast was to prove instrumental in future of the of Roe himself.
During 1928, Alliott Verdon-Roe sold his stake-holding in the company and with the proceeds purchased the S.E. Saunders Company to create 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 Aircraft. Following AV's departure from the company, his 'Personal Assistant' Roy Chadwick returned to Newton Heath to take on the role of Avro 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 however, 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 Avro Lancaster bombers were produced at Chadderton 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) with the addition of yet another factory at Yeadon Aerodrome (now Leeds Bradford Airport) for the production of over 5,500 aircraft (Avro Anson, Avro Lancaster, Avro York and Avro Lincoln).
As in the first World War, Avro played a significant role providing over 7,500 Avro Lancaster, Avro Manchester and Avro York aircraft to the RAF and Bomber Command.
After the war, Chadwick turned his attention to civil aircraft designed the Avro Tudor which was to be Britain’s first pressurised airliner. However, with the development of the new jet airliners by De Havilland in the UK and at Boeing in the USA, very few Tudors were ever built.
Avro answered the Air Ministry call in for a 'peace-time maritime reconnaissance patrol aircraft' wheit produced the Avro Shackleton which flew for the first time in April 1951. The Shackleton went on to serve the RAF for over 40 years before retiring as recently as 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 he had overseen 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. Some 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 in 2015 before a final show at its home base at Doncaster's 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|