The men the com­pany

A V Roe, Roy Chad­wick and Avro

Aviation Classics - - FRONT PAGE -

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,

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