The men the company
A V Roe, Roy Chadwick and Avro
The company behind the Shackleton was one of the most prestigious names in British aviation. Originally founded by a remarkable individual, the company was to change dramatically before the design for the maritime patrol bomber was first laid down.
The life of Edwin Alliott Verdon Roe is a fascinating one. Inventive, driven and with a passion for discovery and development, his early years read like something out of Boy’s Own magazine. He was born in Patricroft, Eccles, on April 26, 1877, now part of Salford in Greater Manchester, a city that was to become the centre of operations for his aviation interests. Alliott, which he preferred to be called to avoid confusion with his father, was the fourth child of Dr Edwin Hodson Roe and his wife Sofia, neé Verdon. Alliott was to later change his name to Verdon-roe in honour of his mother, simply adding a hyphen between his last two names. He began attending Haliford House school at the age of eight, accompanied by his younger brother Humphrey. Here the brothers began to be known by their initials, Alliott becoming ‘A V’, his brother ‘H V’. This school was close to a place his name would become associated with in the early 1900s, Brooklands. The pair moved to Bewshers, the preparatory school for St Paul’s by the time ‘A V’ was 11. While ‘HV’ was a solid student, the same could not be said of his older brother, who enjoyed sport but had less affinity for the classroom. This is not to say he was unintelligent, just unable to apply himself to subjects that did not interest his active mind. Proof of his inventiveness, even at this early age, is found in the fact that Alliott recorded his first patent for a multi-headed carpet brush at just 13 years of age. A year later, Alliott was looking for ways to leave school for good, and found one through a friend of his father who was a civil engineer in Canada. The young Roe sailed for British Columbia in March 1892 aboard the SS Labrador from Liverpool, the intention being to train as a surveyor in the Canadian silver mining industry. Things did not go well from the start. An economic depression and a fall in silver prices caused the surveying work to dry up, his father’s friend being unable to find employment for himself, let alone for Roe. The young man spent a year in a variety of jobs, among them planting trees and fishing,