Aeroplanes (England) Limited - Britannia Works, Thurmaston.
The remains of the Britannia Works stand on the opposite side
of the road to Roundhill School, Melton Road, Thurmaston. The works
adorned with an imposing water-tower, which was demolished, along with
much of the rest of the works, several years ago.
The works have been home to many different businesses, including
basket makers W.T. Ellmore & Son Limited and Crowther's
textile machinery builders. In the 1930's the works were a familiar
place to Leicestershire businessman Alexander Lance Wykes, who was
managing director of the machinery builders.
Outside the realm of work Mr. Wykes was a keen flying enthusiast and
a member of the County Flying Group. It was this enthusiasm that
culminated in him travelling to the United States of America in 1938,
where he would there sign a deal which allowed him to licence build
an American light aircraft in England - the Taylorcraft Model B
On the 21st November 1938 Taylorcraft Aeroplanes (England) Limited
was registered as a private company with both production and selling
rights for the British Empire and Europe. The construction of aircraft
at Thurmaston began in premises behind the Britannia Works during
1939. The Thurmaston built aircraft were a modification of the US built
Model B, and was designated the Taylorcraft Plus C model.
With the outbreak of war in September 1939 all civilian aircraft production
was stopped. Taylorcraft began to undertake sub-contract work for major
aircraft manufacturers. By 1940 the works had become a Ministry of
Aircraft Production repair centre, which necessitated taking over
other premises at neighbouring Syston. During the war employees at the
works helped repair and rebuild de Havilland Tiger Moth aeroplanes,
and the Hawker Hurricane and Typhoon.
In 1941 Taylorcraft received an order to build 100 refined versions
of its Model D aeroplane, in accordance with naming policy the
aircraft were designated the Auster Mark 1.
To accomodate all its activities the company took over the County
Flying Group airfield on Gaddesby lane, Rearsby, where hangers were
built and extensions to the airfield were made. By the end of the war
the company had requisitioned sites in Thurmaston, Syston, Mountsorrel
and Rearsby, in support of its aircraft building and repair activities.
Following the success of its wartime Auster aircraft, in 1946
the company was renamed The Auster Aircraft Company. The company
maintained its Leicestershire connection at Rearsby until 1967 when
all Auster designs in production were ended.
If you have any stories or information regarding the building of aircraft
at Thurmaston, perhaps you would like to contact the website author
by clicking on this link - Contact
Thurmaston Heritage Group
The information and the picture on this page are courtesy of the International
Auster Club - visit their website by clicking on the Auster