Records of the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company Limited and the Bristol Aeroplane Company

Scope and Content

A collection of early books and registers, notebooks, plans and marketing material.

Administrative / Biographical History

After a chance meeting with Wilbur Wright in France in 1909, Sir George White, Chairman of The Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company, instantly recognised the business potential of aviation, so, in conjunction with his brother Samuel and his son Stanley, he established The British and Colonial Aeroplane Company in a former Tram Shed at Filton, near Bristol, on 19th February 1910.

After an unsuccessful attempt at producing an improved Societe Zodiac, they set about manufacturing its own design and the Bristol Boxkite biplane took to the air on 20th July 1910. All British and Colonial aircraft were designated as 'Bristol Type' and plans for the Boxkite were created in 7 days and 78 aircraft were built between 1910 - 1914 with many examples being purchased by the War Office.

At the outbreak of World War I Bristol responded with the popular Bristol Scout and a second factory premises was set up at Brislington, Bristol. In 1916, the Bristol F2 Fighter took to the air and within a month it was joined by the Bristol Type 14 F2B. In all, over 5,300 F2 Fighter aircraft were produced. Throughout World War I the company supplied Scouts to the Royal Naval Air Service and Bristol Fighters to the Royal Flying Corps. Other successful military types followed and by the end of the war the company were employing over 3,000 people.

In 1916 the first Sir George White died, being succeeded by his son Stanley, who, as Second Baronet, adopted the same name. In 1920, the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company was liquidated and the company renamed Bristol Aeroplane Company.

Playing a significant role during World War II Bristol Aeroplane Company supplied Beaufighter, Blenheim and Beaufort aircraft to the RAF. After the war Bristol produced the Brabazon airliner prototype, at the time the world's largest aircraft. The project proved ill-conceived with little interest from civil or military users and so it was abandoned to concentrate on the Britannia.

In 1949, and at the request of the UK government, the joint Bristol and Ferranti Bloodhound Project was developed and at the time it was the RAF's only long-range, transportable surface-to-air anti-aircraft missile.

Bristol Aeroplane Company had been designing and producing its own engines since before World War I such as the Jupiter, used in the Bristol Bulldog and throughout its extensive history it was responsible for a huge number of significant power plants such as the Mercury and Pegasus.

In 1956 Bristol Aeroplane Company separated into Bristol Aircraft Limited and Bristol Aero Engines. In 1958, Bristol Aero Engines was merged with Armstrong Siddeley to form Bristol Siddeley before finally being purchased by Rolls-Royce in 1966. Bristol Aeroplane Company merged into British Aircraft Corporation in 1960.

Source: BAESysyems Heritage

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