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British Industrial History

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Claude Grahame-White

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1909. At Pau with pupils. Alfred Leblanc, Louis Bleriot, Claude Grahame-White and A. J. Milne-Wilson.
1909. At Pau.
1910. C. Lane, C. Graham Gilmour, Claude Grahame-White, H. J. D. Astley, Spottiswood, James Radley, L. D. L. Gibbs and Alan Boyle.
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1910. Claude Grahame-White, Bertram Dickson, John Armstrong Drexel and McArdle.
1910. Cecil Grace, John Armstrong Drexel, Claude Grahame-White and McArdle.

Claude Grahame-White (1879-1959) was an English pioneer of aviation, and the first to make a night flight, during the Daily Mail sponsored London to Manchester race in 1910.

1879 August 21st. Born at Bursledon Towers, Bursledon, Hampshire, the second son and the youngest of the three children of John Reginald White, a Cement Merchant and a keen yachtsman who later took the name Grahame-White, and his wife, Ada Beatrice, the daughter of Frederick Chinnock, a property agent, of London and Dinorbin Court, Hampshire.

1881 Living at The Towers, Hound, Hants; John White (age 33 born Southampton), living on Income from Houses. With his wife Ada B. White (age 26 born London) and their children Beatrice White (age 4 born Southampton), Montague White (age 3 born Hound, Hants), and Claud White (age 1 born Hound, Hants). Plus four servants. [1]

1891 Living at 63 Linden Gardens, Kensington: Ellen Chinnock (age 72 born Berkshire), a Widower. With her son-in-law John White (age 42 born Southampton), a Cement Manufacturer. With his wife Ada Beatrice White (age 32 born London) and their children Beatrice Ely G. White (age 14 born Southampton), Montague R. G. White (age 13 born Burlesdon, Hants), and Claude G. White (age 11 born Burlesdon, Hants). One servant.[2]

He was educated at Crondall House School, Farnham, and Bedford grammar school

He was apprenticed to an engineering firm

Later he worked for his uncle, Francis Willey, a Yorkshire wool magnate, and it was the engineering side of the business that interested him. He persuaded his uncle to replace the firm's horse-drawn vans with motor lorries

He formed a company to service motor vehicles in Bradford, in competition with the steam trams.

1901 Claude G. White is living at 14 Hanover Square, Bradford (age 21 born Southampton), a Manager of Motor Works. Single. He is a boarder in the house of Clara Lobley. Note: In the census for Brighton his father has assumed the name John Graham White (and without the 'e' or the hyphen) [3]

1905 Listed as Estate Agent to George Wilder of Stanstead, Sussex [4] He spent three years ther.

c1907 He made a lengthy visit to South Africa, during which he hunted big game.

On his return to London he set up a motor-engineering business in Albemarle Street and traded as C. Grahame-White and Co

In 1909 he learned to fly in France, and became one of the first Englishmen to qualify as a pilot.

1910 January 4th. Became the first Englishman to receive a pilot's certificate from the Aero Club de France

On July 2, 1910, Claude Grahame-White, in his Farman biplane, won the £1,000 first prize for Aggregate Duration in Flight (1 hr 23 min 20 secs) at the Midlands Aviation Meeting at Wolverhampton.

On October 14, 1910 while in Washington, D.C. Grahame-White flew his Farman biplane over the city and landed on Executive Avenue near the White House. Rather than being arrested Claude was celebrated for the feat by the newspapers. His noted achievements though were centred in the commercialisation of aeronautics. He was also involved in promoting the military application of air power before the First World War with a campaign called "Wake Up Britain", and experimented with fitting various weapons and bombs to planes. During the war itself he mounted the first aerial defence of a city.

1911 Living at 73 St. James' Street, London: Claude Grahame-White (age 31 born Southampton), Engineer (Aerial Engineering) and Employer. Single. Note: He signs his name using the hyphen in the surname [5]

1911 Established a teaching school at Hendon, which quickly became Hendon Aerodrome. The Aerodrome was lent to the Admiralty (1916), and eventually taken over by the RAF in 1919.

1911 Formed the Grahame-White Aviation Co to cover his aviation interests, including the aerodromes and developed some aircraft. One of the designers was John Dudley North who would become Boulton and Paul's chief designer.

1911 Organized the first official air-mail delivery, from Hendon to Windsor.

1912 June 27th. Married (1st) the wealthy socialite Dorothy Caldwell Taylor, the daughter of Bertrand Le Roy Taylor, of New York, at Chelmsford. The marriage was dissolved in 1916.[6] [7]

1914 Temporary appointment as Flight Commander in the Royal Naval Air Service[8]. He made the first night patrol over London, in search of a Zeppelin reported crossing the Essex coast.

1915 was involved in an ill-fated attack on Cuxhaven when was forced to ditch in the sea 5 miles from the Belgian coast.

1915 he resigned his commission to concentrate for the remainder of the war on government aircraft construction contracts. His company was mainly manufacturing the designs of others.

1916 December 21st. Married (2nd) the revue star Ethel (Grace Ethelia) Levey, a friend of his former wife

1917 Having borrowed heavily from both his uncle and the Admiralty to fund wartime expansion, Grahame-White faced mounting debts as his factory stood idle due to shortage of raw materials. In December he suffered a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for six weeks.

1918 Facing bankruptcy, Grahame-White diversified into furniture and car manufacture, and he discovered a lucrative business in refurbishing war-surplus Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost chassis.

He had some success with post-war plane designs, notably the Bantam single-seater biplane, but his efforts to take a lead in the development of civil aviation were frustrated by the legacy of the wartime DH-6 fiasco and the Air Ministry's refusal to return Hendon aerodrome, which the Admiralty had requisitioned in 1914.

1924 the Treasury appointed a receiver to the Grahame-White Aviation company to recover debts; Grahame-White countered with a legal action intended to recover his own wartime losses, as well as the purchase price for Hendon. Although he eventually won this case, the Treasury would not settle until Grahame-White threatened to expose the facts in the Daily Mail.

1925 Grahame White's aerodrome was purchased by the RAF, after a long and protracted legal struggle.

He gave up any active interest in flying and applied his capital to real estate in Britain and America, where several well-judged deals made him a fortune.

1939 Q4. Married (3rd) Phoebe Lee Levy of New York at Marylebone. They divorced in 1939.[9]

1930 Wrote 'Flying: An Epitome and a Forecast'

1959 August 19th. He died at a hospital in Nice while living at 33 Avenue Maeterlinck, Nice, France

1959 Obituary. The Times, Thursday, Aug 20, 1959

1960 Will. Left an estate of £248,708.[10]

Notes

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1881 Census
  2. 1891 Census
  3. 1901 Census
  4. 1905 Kelly's Directory of Sussex
  5. 1911 Census
  6. The Times, Friday, Jan 14, 1916
  7. Essex Newsman - Saturday 29 June 1912
  8. Naval Lists
  9. The Times, Friday, Mar 31, 1939
  10. The Times, Saturday, Jan 09, 1960