Short Brothers – Aviation Pioneers

HORACE Leonard 1872 – 1917

Albert EUSTACE 1875 – 1932

Hugh OSWALD 1883 – 1969


In 1893 two brothers strained their necks from the roof of 15 Friar Gate, Derby…

Breathlessly we scrambled up through the skylight on to the roof of our house in Friar Gate, from whence we trained a telescope on to a coal-gas balloon and watched every movement…………………. This man had the world to himself – what a tremendous adventure waited for him who possessed such a balloon. The imagination of Jules Verne could not improve upon it” – this was Oswald writing in later years and giving an insight into his famous future.

Oswald and Eustace worked for a year on the theory and construction of balloons before Eustace went to Mexico to bring back their brother Horace – the wanderer, following the death of their father Samuel and subsequent pecuniary difficulties.

In 1898 Eustace and Oswald used five hundred pounds (from Horace) to buy a coal and coke business in New Maldon, South London. They bought a second hand coal gas balloon.

1901 saw the two brothers building their first balloon.

By 1903 they were selling balloons to the Indian Government, The Hon. Charles S. Rolls (of Rolls Royce fame) and other members of the Aero Club (later becoming The Royal Aero Club).

They gave penny rides and balloon displays at county shows and galas (York 1905).

In 1908 Horace joined them and the world’s first aeronautical production line was established at Leysdown in Kent. This was the start of SHORT BROTHERS as pioneers and innovators in the design and assembly of powered aeroplanes. Their name lives on to this day in Belfast as Bombardier (Shorts) of Belfast Ltd.

OUR PROJECT – To Acknowledge their Aviation Heritage and Restore the SHORT BROTHERS to Their Rightful Place in Aviation History

I am the great, great niece of the three brothers and have been on their ‘trail’ using material handed down by my mother Margaret Addie Short to explore our family history. I have found that the Shorts are far from being nationally and internationally recognised sufficiently for their pioneering work and achievements in aviation over many years at the turn of the 19th Century and through the two World Wars.

The Aims of the Project

To restore the Short Brothers graves at Hampstead Cemetery, London and Lynchmere Burial Ground in West Sussex.

To bring to Kent and the world aviation resources, unique to the Short Brothers, for schools, libraries and individuals through a website, blog, DVD and printed material.

To create a Short Brothers ‘Locations Trail’ with online leads to the wealth of material available and specific sites of interest.

To promote recognition of their important role and countless contributions to aviation.

Please send any SHORT BROTHERS Information to me. (replace the AT with @ leaving no spaces)

Paddock Rise, 12 Paddock Lane, Whaley Bridge. HIGH PEAK SK23 7JP

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