Aircraft Components Ltd - Synopsis

In 1931 George Dowty set up the Aircraft Components Company at 10 Lansdown Terrace Lane in Cheltenham, his own one-man company while still employed at Gloster Aircraft Co.

This was a shell company with no staff, capital and operated from an accommodation address in London.

10 Lansdown Terrace Lane in Cheltenham

Aircraft Components Limited was located in a rented loft in Lansdown Terrace Lane for two shillings and sixpence per week.

Here he assembled the wheels, with the aid of the company’s first machine tool, a pillar drill costing around fifty shillings.

Dowty wrote that he could not afford fire insurance for the loft, even though the floor below was occupied by a wheelwright and covered in wood shavings and next door was a garage that stored petrol.

Parts for the wheels were machined by local friends of George Dowty, working in garages or back-garden workshops.

1931 On the 10th March he received his first order from the Civilian Aircraft Co of Hull but this company went bankrupt before they paid for the struts.

Despite this shoestring operation, a packing case containing the completed wheels left Cheltenham by rail on 21st September 1931.

He resigned from the Gloster Aircraft Co at the end of June. In May he received his first order for six internally sprung undercarriage wheels from Kawasaki and built these in premises at 10 Lansdown Terrace Lane in Cheltenham

Workshop at 10 Lansdown Terrace Lane in Cheltenham

Dowty recruited his first two employees in November 1931.

A major breakthrough occurred in 1934 when he offered H. P. Folland at Gloster a pair of Oleo Struts of new design for the Gloster Gauntlet aircraft. This gave him his first large production order and was followed by a similar order for the Gladiator.

Aircraft Components – Publication

Dowty leased a factory and bought Arle Court, Cheltenham.

983003 (14)

Arle Court House and Gardens

1936 The firm went public with George Dowty holding only a small percentage of the equity.

10 Lansdown Terrace Lane, Cheltenham
Original photo in the Dowty archive at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub
Arle Court House and Gardens
Original photo in the Dowty archive at the Gloucestershire Heritage Hub
Gloster F.7/30 Fighter Aircraft with Dowty internally sprung wheels

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