Joint Project Leaders David Hassard and Bill Downey, and Treasurer/Volunteer Co-ordinator Mike French write…
    Summary 1,300 website page-views per month; continuing growth of “Hawker People” image archive; 285 visitors to our two-day exhibition; 1,000 attendees at 28 illustrated talks; 52 “100 years ago” newsletters now circulated to over 600 individuals. All achieved by a small band of unpaid volunteers. Funds topped up by donations at talks and exhibitions are sufficient to keep the project running
    Review For a project originally planned and funded for just a year it is perhaps surprising that we are still going strong and have had a fourth busy year. This is all thanks to our dedicated volunteers and to the interest and support shown by so many organisations, people local to Kingston, people who worked in Kingston’s aviation industry and aviation enthusiasts worldwide.

Kingston Aviation Centenary Project - Review Of 2015

Toptop toptoptoptoptoptop

Bill Downey continues to develop our website which is one of the main legacies of the project. We have had 43,000 page-views since it started three years ago and it generates a steady flow of diverse enquiries from all over the world which we try to answer or at least recommend where the answer might be found.

Bill has been updating the “Photo Galleries” on the website with face recognition software so that you can read individual’s names by placing the cursor over the face. It also has a name search feature. Do try this. If you know any names not yet marked on these photos do send that information to  Bill. The website only holds a small selection of the hundreds of “Sopwith and Hawker People” digital images Bill is accumulating. A full set of these face-identified images will eventually be accessible at the Kingston History Centre in the Guildhall and in the Sopwith-Hawker Archives at the Brooklands Museum. Bill would be delighted to receive digital scans of any photographs you might have of Sopwith/Hawker/BAe employees especially those taken in the workplace. It is important to pass on any information you know about the picture; the event in question, any names of people in the photograph, the date however approximate and any index numbers on the back of the photograph which may help us pinpoint a date. Please send photos even if you don’t know any names as our face recognition software may throw up some matches

We held one exhibition this year, thanks again to the BalletBoyz Dance Company for allowing us to use their refurbished Sopwith factory building in Kingston. Thanks also to our volunteer stewards. We focused our publicity on local residents and were delighted to welcome 285 people over the two days including 60 children.

Although we have yet to advertise or promote our illustrated talks and lectures, demand continues by word of mouth. This year 1,027 people have attended 28 talks, bringing the total over the four years to 5,200. Many of these talks were to Local Historical Societies, Probus and Rotary Clubs and lately U3A groups.

In keeping with our main aim, most talks are local but Chris Farara started the year with talks to the Loughborough and Brough branches of the Royal Aeronautical Society and David Hassard did the same at the Yeovilton Branch.

Some more unusual audiences this year included a Mother’s Union, a Day Centre, the Metropolitan Police Military History Society, the Kettner Lunch Group at the National Liberal Club, the Aircrew Association, the London Society of Air Britain and a Technology Conference at the National Archives.

We maintain a strong link with Tiffin School, were back for the third year at a local primary school and were invited to another to talk about engineering as a career. We already have 11 talks booked for 2016 but if you have connections with clubs, organisations or schools, within say 15 miles of Kingston, who would be really interested in our talks you should encourage them to contact David Hassard via David.
    At our talks and exhibitions over the years we have given away more than 7,000 copies of the “Designed and Built in Kingston” fold-out brochure which was originally generously sponsored by BAE Systems. If you would like one of these brochures whilst stocks last, or know someone who would really appreciate one, send a stamped addressed envelope to the Kingston Aviation Centenary Project, c/o 20 Tangmere Grove, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, KT2 5GT. (Standard long narrow DL size envelope 11cm x 22cm or A5) If you would like to include a small donation, cheques should be made payable to “Aviation Centenary Project
    There have been 51 more “100 years ago” e-newsletters this year and the circulation list has grown to 628. This experiment in “real time” history telling would be impossible without generous access to unique private collections, the Brooklands Museum library and archives and all the other archives and photograph collections being plundered especially the National Archives at Kew, the RAF Museum, the Kingston History Centre and this year the Fleet Air Arm Museum.

Stuart Leslie has donated an invaluable 46 volume set of Cross and Cockade aviation journals and we have been able to purchase several rare but essential reference books all of which will eventually be lodged in the Brooklands Museum.

David Hassard intends to continue with this detailed research into the history of the Sopwith Aviation Company and to share the hidden treasure of information and photographs through the newsletters and on the website. If you know of others who would like to receive these newsletters they can sign up via the website or by sending their e-mail address to David.
    Our project is also working with the Kingston Borough Library and Heritage Services on several activities including an update to the “Kingston Aviation Heritage Trail”, a plan to get the Hawker factory time clock donated by Mike Frain installed and working in the Kingston History Centre and a plan to get Martin Alton’s large “Hurricanes over Kingston 1946” painting on permanent public display in the Borough.
    The project bank balance remains sufficiently healthy to continue with the project. Income in the year was 985 in donations from individuals and organisations and 62 from advertising on our website. Outgoings were 1543 of which the project running expenses came to 623. The rest was mostly once-off expenditure: 260 on equipment and software and 660 on digital images, reference books and research material. The regular project running expenses include website fees, printing and publicity.

A painless way to help top up our funds is to go via the Amazon advert at the bottom of our website home page when buying from them. If enough of us do this their small commissions could cover our annual website fees.
    If you have not looked at our website recently, do visit www.kingstonaviation.org
    If you would like to get in touch with us about any of the above you can do so via the website or directly to David Hassard at David.