Bill King tells us about important but less well known activities at
For a quarter of a century, between 1959 and 1984, the main administration block at Richmond Road performed a key role in the design, development and manufacture of military and civil aircraft spread nationwide. Kingston became the Head Office for Hawker Siddeley Aviation (1959-1977) with the top management team and the support staffs resident on site. The HSA Directors were responsible for the aircraft activities on the following sites replacing the old aircraft companies:-
Kingston and Dunsfold (Hawker) - Hunter, Harrier, Hawk
Hamble (Folland) - Gnat and subcontract
Bitteswell (Armstrong Whitworth) - repair and overhaul
Manchester (Avro) - Vulcan, Shackleton, HS 748, Andover, Nimrod, Victor Tanker, ATP
Brough (Blackburn) - Buccaneer, Phantom (sister design authority)
Hatfield and Chester (de Havilland) - Comet, Trident, HS 125, HS 146, Airbus.
Following nationalisation in 1977 and on the formation of BAe it was decided that the Headquarters of the Aircraft Group would be in the offices in Richmond Road and new sites came into the fold: -
Prestwick (Scottish Aviation) - Jetstream 31
Weybridge and Filton (BAC Civil Aircraft Division) - BAC 111, Concorde, VC 10 Tanker
Warton (BAC Military Aircraft Division) - Canberra, Strike Master, Tornado, Jaguar, Typhoon
Many of new senior directors at Aircraft Group would come from the BAC Military Aircraft Division. However Warton, where the bulk of the Aircraft Group’s turnover was concentrated, always operated with a wide degree of autonomy. With the privatisation of BAe in 1983 the new company board decided to dissolve the old group structure and concentrate power in a new BAe headquarters building in the Strand. By 1984 the old group headquarters offices became empty and were demolished in 1990 with the rest of the Kingston site.
Over its 25 years of existence as a headquarters the Kingston site provided office accommodation for some of the most famous names in the country’s aviation history including Tommy Sopwith, Roy Dobson, John Lidbury, Sidney Camm, Bob Lickley, Freddie Page, Colin Chandler, Ivan Yates, Eric Rubython, John Stamper, Bill Bedford, ‘Birdie’ Wilson, Harry Broadhurst and Peter Fletcher. Each Director had his own small team of experts to advise on critical matters and help develop and oversee company policies and procedures.
Central services like legal, intellectual property, IT, publicity
and government contracting were all based at Kingston and over the
years there were growing numbers of accountants and sales and marketing
professional, plus a central team of engineering, manufacturing and
design specialists. Always kept small in number, headquarters staff
provided multifunction expert teams at a time when the British aircraft
industry was at its most turbulent, but still producing aircraft in