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Tuesday, 26 October 2010

George Edwards (1908-2003)

Within a stonesthrow of Vincent Richmond's plaque is one on the corner of Hales End Road, Chingford. It notes the place of birth of George Edwards, a pivotal figure in British aviation (and a rather more successful one than "Dope" Richmond.) He was described as “one of the world’s foremost aircraft designers and administrators - an architect of the age of flight”

The plaque notes that he was born above his fathers toy shop and I can't help but wonder if maybe he was inspired by the toy aircraft that he saw there. He like many learned his trade in the war years and they were skills that were badly needed. He became a senior designer draughtsman with Vickers in 1935 and worked on a special version of the Wellington, became Chief Designer in 1945 and Director and General Manager in 1953.

The post war years and the growth of commercial air travel provided opportunities especially when Britians farflung empire was still around. His designs were both civil and military. The Viscount, The Valiant (one of the cold war V bombers that were a part of Britain's "independent" nuclear deterrant), The VC10, The Jaguar and Tornado and of course Concorde. So his career also marks a change in the aviation industry, were once a single manufacturer would be responsible for the entire development and construction of an aircraft projects like the Tornado and Concorde mean unprecendented cooperation between not only businesses but countries.

I guess that thats true of a lot more than the aircraft industry. Huge conglomerates dominate markets, lobbying hard to get an edge on the opposition. Gone are the little names swallowed by Kraft or Nestle or Unilever...

Anyway that was my little visit to aeronautical Chingford. Hopefully well manage one more London trip before the madness of Yuletide is in full force...

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