A.V. Roe - Sir Edwin Alliott Verdon Roe (1877 – 1958) - Green Plaque site

About A.V. Roe - Sir Edwin Alliott Verdon Roe (1877 – 1958) - Green Plaque site

Aircraft pioneer and designer of AVRO planes. Born in Eccles, aged 14 he travelled to Canada to train as a surveyor, but on arriving in British Columbia found there was little demand for surveyors and he spent a year working odd jobs.

He returned to Britain and served as an apprentice with the Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway. Dockyard work followed with him joining the ship SS Jebba of the British & South African Royal Mail Company as fifth engineer on the West African run.

He served on other vessels, finishing his Merchant Navy career as third engineer aboard SS Ichanga. It was during this time that he first turned his mind to the possibility of building a flying machine.

To spend more time studying the problems of flight he left the sea in 1902 and became a draughtsman in the motor car industry (at Brotherton and Crockers Limited).

In 1906 the Daily Mail offered prizes for model aeroplanes capable of sustained mechanical flight. Roe carried off the first prize. This encouraged him to build an aeroplane which would be able to carry him aloft.

A half-used stable behind the surgery of his brother (Dr Spencer Verdon Roe) in Wandsworth, was ideal for the construction of a flying machine. Construction of the began in May 1907 and then moved to a shed at Brooklands motor racing track.

Walthamstow Marsh was the location of Roe's later attempts to build and fly his early aeroplanes.

Despite many failures, Roe continued his experiments and there is now a blue plaque commemorating his first successful flight (in July 1909) on one of the railway arches he worked from.

With his brother Humphrey, he founded the A.V. Roe Aircraft Co. in 1910 at Brownsfield Mill in Manchester.

His most popular model, the 504, sold more than 8,300, mainly to the Royal Flying Corps and later to the Royal Air Force for use by training units. In 1928, he sold his shares and bought S. E. Saunders Co., and formed Saunders-Roe Aviation. 

He was knighted in 1929.

Location: 47 West Hill, SW18

Unveiled: 28 October 2011


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