Joint Project Leaders David Hassard and Bill Downey report…
    The demand for talks on Kingston’s aviation heritage continued through 2019. Despite never having actively promoted them we gave 29 talks this year with an attendance of 956 including 221 school children.  This brings the total over the last eight years to 224 talks to 8,488 people. The most popular talk remains “Bat Boat to Red Arrows” covering the whole history from 1912 to 1992 followed by “Sopwith Aviation and its aircraft through the Great War”. “The aviation industry in Surrey in the Great War” also attracts some groups, whilst new talks this year were “Sir Thomas Sopwith” for a group visiting the Brooklands Museum and recently “The Great Atlantic Air Race 1919”. Enquiries about bookings for talks can be made via We do not charge for talks but donations from some talks this year have maintained our funds at a level which allows us to continue with the project and keep our website running as a digital archive with worldwide access.
    Surprise activities this year have been three unplanned exhibitions. One was in Dorking for the Surrey County Council “Surrey in the Great War Project” and two at Claremont Fan Court School in Esher linked to their new Science and Technology Centre named after Sir Sydney Camm who based his Hawker Aircraft design team in their historic mansion from 1940 to 1945.

Kingston Aviation Centenary Project Review For 2019


Thanks to our volunteers we were able to display our Hawker Aircraft Company exhibition panels, photographs and paintings. In addition we had a new Sir Sydney Camm slideshow running on their large TV and displayed new information panels summarising the Hawker aircraft design work at Claremont.

The “100 Years Ago This Week” e-mailed Newsletters have remained our main focus throughout 2019 with 51 issues. The number of subscribers worldwide is more than 600.We plan to continue researching and publishing the historical Newsletters but although there are significant developments for the Sopwith company in 1920 there are probably not enough events and contemporary photographs to support an issue every week. We are hoping to go back and expand the information on the Sopwith School of Flying and Sopwith Aviation Company activities in 1912 and early 1913 which was summarised very briefly in our first newsletter in May 2013.
    These historical newsletters are an experiment in tracking down as much information as possible about the company and its products and sharing our findings chronologically 100 years later. We have deliberately resisted adding comments or drawing any retrospective conclusions. However, faced with the exceptional achievements of the Sopwith Aviation Company since 1912 quantified in the last newsletter we are tempted to explore the reasons for such success and have started to list significant contributary factors, some obvious, some less so. This needs much more study and consideration.  If you know of existing analyses or studies of the reasons behind Sopwith’s unique success or would like to share your own thoughts on this, do please get in touch with David Hassard via
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