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British Industrial History

1901 Royal Aero Club

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The Royal Aero Club

The Aero Club [1]

24th September 1901. Ascent from the Crystal Palace in the City of York, 42,000 cubic feet, by Miss Vera Butler, Mr. F. Hedges Butler, and the Hon. C. S. Rolls, with the late Mr. Stanley Spencer in his official capacity as aeronaut. Conversation during the voyage on the subject of the success of M. Santos Dumont in encircling the Eiffel Tower and winning the 4,000 prize presented by M. Deutsch de la Meurthe, through the Aero Club of France; the formation of a similar Club for British balloons, dirigibles, and aeroplanes, suggested by Mr. F. Hedges Butler. The idea cordially endorsed by the other voyagers, and the decision taken to register the name of the “Aero Club" on descent.

25th September 1901. Mr. Claude Johnson, Secretary of the Automobile Club, interviewed at Whitehall Court by Mr. F. Hedges Butler, Hon. Treasurer of that Club, on the subject of an Aero Club, Mr. Butler's original idea being to make the new Club a part of the Automobile Club, in view of the important part played in dirigibles and aeroplanes by the internal combustion engine.

21st October 1901. Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Automobile Club; decision to form an Aero Club in connection with the Automobile Club; the Secretary directed to register the title of the "Aero Club of the United Kingdom."

29th October 1901. Meeting of the Standing Committee of the Automobile Club; report by Mr. Staplee Firth of the completion of the registration of the Aero Club as a company, namely, as "The Aero Club of the United Kingdom, Limited"; half-page advertisements of the Aero Club ordered to be inserted in the Autocar and the Motor Car Journal, together with small advertisements in The Times and the Daily Mail; letter read from the Hon. C. S. Rolls in connection with the formation of the Aero Club; recommendation passed that congratulations should be sent to Senhor Santos Dumont; directions given for the Secretary to send out additional Circulars concerning the Aero Club and to take steps to bring the Aero Club to the notice of suitable members of the Automobile Club.

NOTE. Funds were provided by Mr. F. Hedges Butler and cheque sent to Messrs. Andrew Barr & Co, Chartered Accountants of the Automobile Club, for preliminary expenses and the registration of the name, etc. The Aero Club of the United Kingdom, Limited, was registered without Articles of Association. This had to be done, as other people were desirous of registering the name, and papers were presented within a few hours after these papers had been lodged at Somerset House. The capital of the company was registered as £100, divided into 2,000 shares of 1s. each. The signatories registered at Somerset House are as follows:

Frank Hedges Butler, Wine Shipper and Merchant, 155 Regent Street, W. . . One.
T. W. Staplee Firth, Solicitor, 140 Upper Tulse Hill. . One.
Mark J. Mayhew, Lieut. Imperial Yeomanry,S cio, Roehampton, Surrey. . One.
Charles Stewart Rolls, Gentleman, South Lodge, Knightsbridge One.
Ernest Instone, One.
James Burrows, Steward, Lavender Hill . . . . One.
Claude Goodman Johnson, Secretary, Automobile Club. One.

Dated the 29th October, 1901.
Witness to above signatures,
JOSEPH G. POTTLE, 25, Ralph Street, Newington,
Solicitor's Clerk.

The statutory notice gives the Registered Office as 4 Whitehall Court, and the fee paid on registration amounted to 3 12s, 6d,

15th November 1901. Inaugural ascent of the Aero Club, Stamford Bridge Grounds, by Miss Vera Butler, Mr. F. Hedges Butler, and the late Mr. Stanley Spencer (in his official capacity as aeronaut); the Hon. C. S. Rolls, who was to have been one of the party, gave up his place, as, owing to the heavy gas supplied, the balloon would only lift three persons.

The following was the first draft of the preliminary circular of the Aero Club: Liability of Member of the Club. The Aero Club of the United Kingdom is registered under the Companies Act, by which the liability of a member is restricted to his subscription and to a share of one shilling.

Purposes of the Club. The Club is for the encouragement of ballooning as a sport and of aerial locomotion in all its forms and applications.

It is intended -
(a) To encourage the study of aeronautics and develop the sciences connected therewith.
(b) To organize aerial excursions in which all members may take part.
(c) To organize Congresses, Exhibitions, races, and contests.
(d) To acquire balloons for the use of members.
(e) To acquire premises, to form a library, and to promote intercourse between those interested in the subject.
(f) To encourage a competent aeronaut for the conducting of aerial excursions and for education of members.
(g) To acquire the use of grounds for the inflation of balloons and for ascents.
(h) To grant certificates of competency to members who, having made a sufficiency of ascents, are recognized as competent to take control of a balloon.

The Programme for 1902. The Club will be open to ladies and gentlemen, subject to election. It is suggested that - (a) At the outset a balloon should be acquired for the use of members.
(b) Ascents should be confined to members of the Club.
(c) Ascents should be made weekly or periodically, according to demand.
(d) The charge for ascents should be in accordance with the cost and the time of the year.
(e) Dates for ascents should be by ballot.

Premises. It is suggested that the Automobile Club should be asked to allot a room in its new premises for the use of members of the Aero Club, in which the library of the Aero Club would be located and the reading of papers and discussions should be held, and in which members should meet for intercourse.

Subscription for Members. It is proposed that the subscription of membership should be for the first three hundred members (Founder Members) 2 2s. per annum, including the right to use the Aero Club Room (only) at the New Automobile Club premises in Piccadilly.

Further, that the Automobile Club should be asked to admit (on election) as members of the Automobile Club gentlemen who are members of the Aero Club, who are not members of the Automobile Club, at the ordinary subscription of the Automobile Club, less 1 Is. per annum.

Committee. Early in 1902 a General Meeting of members of the Aero Club will be held to elect a Committee and Officers and to frame rules.

Organizing Committee. On Tuesday, December 3, 1901, at 5 p.m., a meeting of those who have intimated a desire to join the Club will be held at the Automobile Club, 4 Whitehall Court, London, S.W., to appoint an organizing committee.

Club Colours. The Club colours, light blue and chocolate, can be obtained from Messrs. Lane and Neave, 4 Minories, London, E. Members are requested to fly the Club colours in all competitions.

The early meetings of the Committee of the Club were held in my chambers at 56 Pall Mall, S,W., and the inaugural ascent of the Club was made on November 15, 1901. Miss Vera Butler, who could fairly be regarded as the fairy godmother of the institution, myself, and Mr. Stanley Spencer were the voyagers, and the City of York was again the balloon to be used. The ascent took place from Stamford Bridge, Chelsea, and as soon as we were a few hundred feet in the air Miss Butler unfurled a white banner 36 feet long, bearing the words, in large blue letters, "Aero Club."

Many of the Automobile Club members came in their cars to see the start, and it is interesting to recall that a biograph camera took a moving record of an historic event.

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Extracts from 'Fifty years of travel by land, water and air' by Frank Hedges Butler