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British Industrial History

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Oswald Short

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1909. The Short Brothers, the Wright Brothers and others at Shellbeach

Hugh Oswald Short (1883-1969)

Aeronautical engineer, was born on 16 January 1883 at Stanton by Dale, Derbyshire, the fourth son and fifth child of Samuel Short, engineer, and his second wife, Emma Robinson.

1891 Samuel Short 48, steam engine fitter, lived in Chesterfield with Emma Short 42, Eustace Short 16, Ethel Short 10, Hugh Short 8[1]

Oswald's formal education ceased on his father's death but he trained as an engineer by self-help and hands-on instruction from his brothers Horace Leonard (1872–1917) and (Albert) Eustace (1875–1932).

Short first worked as an office boy in Derby in the 1890s and founded a balloon business with Eustace in 1898. The two brothers built their first passenger-carrying balloon at Hove in April 1901 and moved their factory to Maple Mews, Tottenham Court Road, London, about 1902. The partnership's first sales were observation balloons for the government of India (October 1903). In 1905–6 the brothers made contacts in the Aero Club and moved their factory to railway arches at Battersea in June 1906.

Short tried unsuccessfully with Eustace from 1907 to build aeroplanes designed by club members, until Horace left employment with Charles Algernon Parsons in December 1908 to form Short Brothers.

The Short partnership was incorporated as Short Brothers (Rochester and Bedford) Limited in 1919 with Oswald Short as chairman and joint managing director; he became sole managing director on Eustace's death and retained both posts when Shorts became a public company in 1935.

In 1935 he married Violet Louise Blackburn, née Lister (d. 1966); they had no children.

1935-39 Lived in Hampstead[2]

1939 Hugh O Short and Violet L Short lived in Strood; Oswald was Chairman & Managing Director of Short Brothers Aircraft Works[3]

1943 After nationalisation of the company, Oswald resigned as chairman and director of Shorts, accepting the honorary title of life president.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. 1891 census
  2. London Electoral registers
  3. 1939 Register