Good Old Sir George, Good Old Us

19Feb10

EasyJet's Sir George White Brab Hangar FiltonAt a meeting of the Bristol Tramways Company on February 16 1910, Sir George White announced to astonished shareholders that he planned to go into building these newfangled aeroplane chaps.

I may tell you that, for some time past, my brother and I have been directing our attention to the subject of aviation, which is one hardly yet ripe for practical indication by such a company as the Bristol Tramways Company, but yet seems to offer promise at no distant date. So much so that we have determined personally to take the risk and expense of endeavour to develop the science from the spectacular to the commercial or manufacturing point of view.

He was 64 years old and still displaying the killer entrepreneurial instinct that had raised him from Kingsdown house-painter’s son to transport magnate, stockbroker and Baronet (Tory). For a while his new aircraft factory was the biggest in the world, and he made the world’s first sale of military aircraft – eight Bristol Boxkites to Czarist Russia.

This morning’s launch of the BAC 100 celebrations at the Brabazon Hangar in Filton was a suitably grand occasion. There were Bristol cars and buses on display, as well as a Bristol Bulldog fighter, the Central Band of the RAF performed a new march written in honour of Sir George and a shiny new EasyJet Airbus A319 was named after him. In fact the only thing that went wrong was some junior minister that HM Gov’t had sent referring to the place (twice) as “Fulton”.

Mostly it was about looking back on 100 years of proud history and achievement, and here’s to the next 100 years.

Global warming and bribes for arms sales are things not to love, but Bristol’s history of innovation is. They do amazing things there which they say will keep us all flying more sustainably. Of course they would say that, wouldn’t they? This is a big, big business. But Sir George’s workers contented themselves with Bank Holiday outings to Weston-super-Mare; their descendants can travel the world quickly and cheaply. That means something. That matters.

If you’ve never been to the site, then do so; if you can’t get invited, go visit Concorde. No map can give you any idea of just how vast, how stupendously big the place is.

BAC 100 events will be running throughout the year. More at http://www.bac2010.co.uk

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One Response to “Good Old Sir George, Good Old Us”

  1. “flying more sustainably” – is that like smearing yourself in excrement more hygienically?


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