Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,355 pages of information and 245,904 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Fairey Aviation Co

From Graces Guide
November 1932.
November 1932.
March 1934.
Sept 1940.
Sept 1945.
Dec 1945.
January 1952.
Feb 1957.

Fairey of Hayes (Middlesex) and Heaton Chapel/Ringway in Greater Manchester.


The Fairey Aviation Company was a British aircraft manufacturer based in Hayes (Middlesex) and Heaton Chapel/Ringway in Greater Manchester.

Notable for a number of important planes, including the Fairey III family, the Swordfish, Firefly and Gannet, it had a strong presence in the supply of naval aircraft.

1916/15 The Fairey Company was founded by Charles Richard Fairey. Financial support by F. G. T. Dawson and further backing by Vincent Nicholl and M. E. A. Wright who were three friends then in the RNAS. A. C. Barlow was installed as chief draughtsman.[1]

Fairey was initially based at Hayes (Middlesex), and for some years at Hamble (Hampshire).

c.1924: C. R. Fairey and the Fairey Aviation Co were awarded £4000 by the Royal Commission on Awards to Inventors for the "Hamble Baby" seaplane[2]

Fairey Aviation Co

1924 "The Fairey Aviation Company now employs 1500 hands, and during the past year was engaged on the production of five types of machine for the Air Ministry, including the "Fawn " and the " Fly-Catcher," In addition it, supplied machines to the Japanese, Portuguese, Swedish and Australian Governments. It extended and improved its shops and equipment, and reopened its Hamble works for the reconditioning of its own types of machine. It is now the company's practice to make check tests on the timber used for every spar in each machine built. For this purpose a test, room has been fitted out, and in addition, supplied with equipment for testing other materials. Of the new designs of machines undertaken by the company, little may be said beyond stating that two of them will be fitted with Curtiss D12 twin-six water-cooled engines, developing 450 horse-power. The British Empire rights for the manufacture of this famous engine have been acquired by the company. Other American patents have also been taken up, including those for the Curtiss surface radiators, Curtiss the system of engine temperature regulation, and the Reed solid duralumin air screw."[3]

1929 Public company at £500,000. Directors were Charles Richard Fairey, Francis Gilmer Tempest Dawson, Maurice Edward Arthur Wright, Archibald George Hazell, Thomas Morgan Barlow, and Wilfrid Broadbent.[4]

1933 Designers and constructors of aircraft. Works: Hayes, Middlesex; Hamble, Hants; Gosselies, Belguim. Head Office: Hayes, Middlesex.[5]

Receipt of large UK military contracts in the mid 1930's necessitated acquisition of a large factory in Heaton Chapel (Stockport) in 1935 and flight test facilities at Manchester's Ringway Airport in 1937.

1936 A few Hendon monoplane bombers built at Stockport were flown from Manchester's Barton Aerodrome.

1937 Quantity production of Battle light bombers at Stockport/Ringway commenced in mid 1937.

1937 Aeroplane constructors. "Battle" Aircraft. "Hendon" Aircraft. "Swordfish" Aircraft. [6]

WWII Large numbers of Fulmar fighters and Barracuda dive-bombers were made. Fairey's also built 498 Bristol Beaufighter aircraft and over 660 Handley Page Halifax bombers in their northern facilities.

Postwar: Firefly and Gannet naval aircraft were constructed, supplemented by sub-contracts from de Havilland for Vampire and Venom jet fighters.

1958 De Havilland, Hunting Aircraft and Fairey Aviation formed a new consortium, called Airco, for the production of the DH121 airliner[7]

1959 Fairey Aviation became a holding company for the group, with change of name to Fairey Company Ltd, reflecting the strategy of divesification. The manufacturing units would become subsidiaries of the holding company[8]. Aircraft manufacturing was concentrated in the UK under a new subsidiary Fairey Aviation Ltd, which would produce the Rotodyne and other aircraft; the general engineering activities will be concentrated in the Stockport Aviation Co whose name was changed to Fairey Engineering[9]

1960 The government in the late 1950s was determined to see the UK's aero industry "rationalised". The Ministry of Defence saw the future of helicopters as being best met by a single manufacturer. The merger of Fairey's aviation interests with those of Westland Aircraft took place in early 1960 shortly after Westland had acquired Saunders-Roe and Bristol's helicopter division.

1960 Aircraft production and modification at Stockport and Ringway ceased.

1961 Aircraft manufacturers, nuclear engineering, hydraulics, metal fabrications, guided weapons, target aircraft, plastics, motor boats and dinghies, air surveys. [10]

Fairey Company

1959 Establishment of Fairey Company as the holding company; Fairey Engineering at Heaton Chapel was a subsidiary, which was involved in medium and heavy engineering including portable bridges for military and emergency services use, notably Medium Girder Bridge. Its bridges are in service with the British Army, U.S. Army and many other NATO forces.

1972 Fairey acquired the Britten-Norman company

1977 The company went into receivership[11]

1977 The National Enterprise Board outbid Trafalgar House to acquire the non-aviation assets of the Fairey Group, consisting of 14 subsidiary companies[12], which produced aerospace components and were involved in nuclear engineering and bridge building.

1978 Racal-Datacom, of Salisbury, acquired Fairey Electronics of Barnstable[13]

1978 Creation of Fairey Holdings[14]

Fairey Holdings

1978 Closure of the subsidiary Tress Engineering, of Newcastle on Tyne, maker of valves and gauges[15]

1980 Acquired Arlon BV, maker of low pressure filters, of Arnhem[16]. Sold Fairey Surveys and the marina at Hamble[17]

1980 The National Enterprise Board sold Fairey Holdings to Doulton, the subsidiary of S. Pearson and Son[18]

1982 Subsidiaries included Fairey Nuclear and Fairey Filtration (which held the Arlon companies as well as Fairey Microfiltrex)[19], Fairey Winches, Fairey Automation, Fairey Hydraulics, Fairey Marine and Fairey Engineering.

1984 Acquired Ate Systems, maker of automatic testing equipment[20]

1985 Fairey Automation designed and installed an automatic production line for cylinder head sub-assemblies at Perkins, Peterborough; it employed 8 Pragma robots[21]

1986 Fairey Engineering was sold to Williams Holdings[22]; Fairey Marine, of Cowes, was sold to Marintecknik Intl of Hong Kong[23]

1987 Management buy-out of Fairey Holdings from Pearsons[24]

1987 Sold Davis Derby, as part of a strategic decision to exit the mining market; sold the assets of ATE Systems to Wayne Kerr[25]

1988 Preparation for stock-market listing. Fairey operated in electronics and electrical power, aerospace and defence, and filtration and specialized ceramics[26]. Fairey Group of Heston was incorporated as a public limited company. Subsidiary companies included:[27]

1990s the Company focused on electronics, selling its electrical insulator and hydraulic actuator businesses.

1997 Acquired Burnfield[28] particularly for its Beta and Malvern Instrument subsidiaries.

1998 The final aerospace links were cut[29]

2000 Fairey purchased Spectris, a German instrument company[30] and soon after changed its name.

Other Products

Late 1940s Fairey Aviation established Fairey Marine on the River Hamble, Southampton.

Late 1950s, Fairey acquired Mayflower Automotive Products, including their factory in Tavistock, Devon and, with it, the designs of its products, including winches and free-wheeling front hubs for Land Rover vehicles.

1975 Fairey designed and manufactured a mechanical overdrive unit for Land Rovers. Vehicles fitted with the unit carried a badge on the rear saying 'Overdrive by Fairey', with the Fairey logo.

This branch of products effectively ceased in the early 1980s when new product development at Land Rover and a trend for manufacturers to build accessories in-house forced Fairey to drop out of the sector.

The American company Superwinch bought the Tavistock works and continued making the Fairey-designed winch for a few years. The site is now Superwinch's European base and manufacturing facility. The Fairey Overdrive is still in production in America.

List of Models

The Aircraft made by Fairey included the following (numbers in parenthesis() show the total number produced by all manufacturers):

A total of around 12,923 Fairey aircraft built by all manufacturers between 1916-57

As well as producing their own designs, Fairey produced other aircraft under subcontract

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Fairey Aircraft since 1915 by H. A. Taylor.
  2. The Times, Jan 13, 1925
  3. The Engineer 1925/01/02
  4. The Times, Saturday, Mar 09, 1929
  5. 1933 Who's Who in British Aviation
  6. 1937 The Aeroplane Directory of the Aviation and Allied Industries
  7. The Times, Jan 13, 1960
  8. The Times Mar 10, 1959
  9. The Times (London, England), Tuesday, Mar 10, 1959
  10. 1961 Dun and Bradstreet KBE
  11. The Times, Jun 30, 1978
  12. The Times, Dec 06, 1977
  13. The Times, Jan 26, 1978
  14. The Times, Jun 30, 1978
  15. The Times, Jun 30, 1978
  16. The Times (London, England), Friday, Jan 04, 1980
  17. The Times, Mar 20, 1980
  18. The Times, May 02, 1980
  19. The Times Aug 19, 1982
  20. The Times, Sep 19, 1984
  21. The Times, May 13, 1985
  22. The Times, April 03, 1986
  23. The Times, August 02, 1986
  24. The Times, January 02, 1987
  25. The Times Oct. 15, 1987
  26. The Times, November 01, 1988
  27. 1988 Annual report
  28. The Times, December 26, 1996
  29. The Times, March 13, 2001
  30. The Times, May 04, 2000
  • [1] Wikipedia
  • The Aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps (Military Wing) by J. M. Bruce. Published in 1982. ISBN 0-370-30084-x
  • The Encyclopedia of British Military Aircraft by Chaz Bowyer. Published in 1982. ISBN 1-85841-031-2
  • Warplanes of the World 1918-1939 by Michael J. H. Taylor. Published 1981. ISBN 0-7110-1078-1