Reclusive pilot was first to fly across the Irish Sea
HISTORIC memorabilia from the home of a pioneer aviator has been donated to the island of Anglesey, where he took off from on his most famous flight and where he lived for over 30 years.
Detective work by the Isle of Anglesey Council’s Archives Department has revealed that while some of the material belonged to Captain Vivian Hewitt, the first man to fly across the Irish Sea in 1912, much of it had been owned by another local flying hero.
Captain Hewitt, who died in 1965, was dubbed the Welsh Bleriot after his epic flight in 1912 and 18 years later he returned to Anglesey to buy Bryn Aber, near Cemlyn Bay, where he lived a reclusive life until his death in 1965. Bryn Aber was recently sold for just over £300,000.
Now North Wales law firm Swayne Johnson has handed over what was believed to be Captain Hewitt’s leather flying helmet, cartridge cases, service-issue water bottle and cooking pan, as well as a portrait of him, to the Isle of Anglesey archives and the museum at Oriel Mon.
But archives team has discovered that the painting is of Pilot Officer Vivian Parry, the son of Captain Hewitt’s housekeeper, Nellie, who was killed in World War Two and the flying helmet is also likely to be his.
Vivian Parry was with 150 Squadron, which flew Wellington bombers on night raids into Europe from RAF Snaith in Yorkshire and he lost his life on September 4, 1942, just months after being presented with the Distinguished Flying Cross by King George VI at Buckingham Palace.
Vivian Parry, who is buried at Cemlyn Bay, had joined the RAF on the outbreak of the war and was a rear gunner – one of the most dangerous wartime roles with a life expectancy of just five missions or less than a fortnight.
Other items including diaries, some of the many photographs and the plans of Bryn Aber, belonged to Captain Hewitt.
Shaun Hughes, the Swayne Johnson solicitor who dealt with the administration of the Bryn Aber estate, said: “We were pleased to hand over these historic items to the island of Anglesey and would like to pay tribute to the detective work of the Council’s archives department for finding that the memorabilia belonged to not one but two of the island’s air aces.
“We were involved with Bryn Aber where Captain Hewitt spent so many happy years and he was clearly a remarkable man.
“He was one of the early pioneers of manned flight and his journey across the Irish Sea was longer than any previous flight over water, three times further than Louis Bleriot’s flight across the Channel three years earlier.
“He appears to have been very happy here on Anglesey where he lived with his housekeeper and perhaps his influence inspired Vivian Parry to join the RAF.
“He was clearly fond of the family as he left his home at Bryn Aber and a property in the Bahamas to Nellie’s two surviving sons, Jack and Ken.”
Ian Jones, Oriel Mon Collections Manager, said: “We’re delighted to receive this important material as we act as the collective memory of the island of Anglesey.
A book, Modest Millionaire: The Biography of Captain Vivian Hewitt was written by William Hywel and published by then Denbigh-based printers Gwasg Gee in 1973 and although out of print it is available in local libraries.
For more information the Isle of Anglesey archives go to www. anglesey.gov.uk/leisure/ records-and-archives/
Photographs of Captain Hewitt
Bryn Aber, Cemlyn Bay, which was the home of aviation pioneer Vivian Hewitt, first man to fly across the Irish Sea