Dowty Group History

Dowty Group was a leading British manufacturer of Aerospace, Industrial, Mining and Electrical equipment.

It was listed on the London Stock Exchange and was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index, but was acquired by TI Group in 1992

In 1931 George Dowty decided to set up his own company and formed the Aircraft Components Company, Cheltenham, while still employed at Gloster Aircraft Co.

This was a shell company with no staff, no capital and operated from a registered office address in Lloyds Avenue, London.

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

George Dowty resigned as Draughtsman from the Gloster Aircraft Co at the end of June and formed Aircraft Components Ltd, 10 Lansdown Terrace Lane in Cheltenham.

In May 1931, the first Dowty aircraft component, was for an aircraft shock absorber strut but George Dowty’s first real success was with his invention for an internally sprung wheel, whose first order was placed by the Kawasaki Company of Japan, for six internally sprung undercarriage wheels and then built them at his premises at 10 Lansdown Terrace Lane in Cheltenham.

In November 1931, he recruited his first two employees.

In 1934 a major breakthrough occurred when he offered to Henry Folland (Gloster Aircraft Company, Aviation Engineer) a pair of newly designed Oleostruts, for the Gloster Gauntlet aircraft. This gave him his first large production order and was followed by a similar order for the Gladiator.

1935 Dowty leased a factory and bought Arle Court, Cheltenham

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

1939 The firm invented the first ever internally sprung aircraft wheel and went on to make the landing gear for Sir Frank Whittle’s jet-propelled Gloster aeroplane.

During the Second World War Dowty’s inventive and creative engineer’s mind was fully unleashed, nearly all British aircraft that were built embodied Dowty products, which included hydraulic systems, undercarriage units, tail wheels, electrical instruments and warning devices .

The list of aircraft names include Hawker Hurricane, Beaufighter, Typhoon, Whirlwind, Manchester, Lancaster, Halifax, Stirling, Blenheim, Hampden, Henley, Sunderland, Skua, Anson, Dominie, Master, Lysander, Rapide, and the allies’ first jet aircraft the Gloster Whittle E28/39, which first flew on the 15th of May 1941, also, the first jet fighter to see action, the Gloster Meteor.

The firm soon established itself as one of Britain’s most important manufacturing firms, particularly due to the growth of the British aircraft industry during and after the Second World War.

At the end of the hostilities in 1945, Dowty had built 87,786 landing gears and 984,388 hydraulic units.

Plants were set up throughout Britain and in Canada and the USA.

1940 Aircraft Components changed its name to Dowty Equipment

Dowty Group Logo

After the Second World War, Dowty applied his new approaches to hydraulics to wider fields – motorcycle forks, hydraulic pit props and a prime support system, industrial pumps, and hydraulic control systems.

1945 Dowty Seals was founded

1948 New Mendip Engineering, Atworth, Wiltshire was acquired

1950 Dowty Hydraulic Units was created

1951 Coventry Precision was acquired

1952 George Dowty was active in the Royal Aeronautical Society, being elected its president for 1952–3. Two years later he was awarded its Gold Medal for outstanding designs and development of aircraft equipment.

1953 Dowty Fuel Systems was created

As the various Dowty Group companies continued to thrive, it was clear that a business was needed to run a business, to this end Dowty Group Limited was incorporated on 18th March 1954 and its headquarters based at Arle Court, Cheltenham.

1954 A group holding company was formed with the Canadian operation generating 50 per cent of the total turnover.

1954 Dowty Mining Equipment was created

1957 New company called Dowty Nucleonics was created

In 1958, Bristol Aeroplane and Rolls-Royce agreed to sell Rotol and British Messier to the Dowty Group, giving Dowty a propeller manufacturing capability.

In 1960 that firm became known as Dowty Rotol.

1960s onwards proved a period of innovation. Dowty developed fuel control systems for the iconic Harrier jump jet and power controls for the legendary Concorde supersonic airliner.

1961 Dowty bought Boulton Paul Aircraft (which became known as Dowty Boulton Paul Ltd in 1970), which produced powered control units for aircraft

Dowty Group also began a long period of collaboration with the French Group Messier on aircraft landing gear and hydraulics.

In 1967, the Royal Aeronautical Society elected him an Honorary Fellow.

1968 Meco of Worcester was acquired

Following a hostile takeover by TI in early summer 1992, Dowty had been assimilated and reorganized as a third group in TI hierarchy.

TI Group Logo

Under TI, Dowty designs and produces engineered systems and component systems using the latest electronic and hydromechanical technologies for aerospace, maritime, commercial electronics, industrial and automotive applications.

The merger of Dowty and TI operations has made the TI Group the UK’s second-largest engineering concern (behind BAE Systems plc).

In 1993 TI Group hived off seven former Dowty Group companies engaged in the manufacture of electronic equipment by way of a management buy-out to form Ultra Electronics.

In 1994 TI Group transferred the Dowty landing gear business into a joint venture formed with SNECMA, known as Messier-Dowty.

Messier-Dowty logo

In 1998 the business became wholly owned by Safran.

Safran Logo

Dowty Propellers are still trading today as a world-leading manufacturer of integrated propeller systems, providing solutions for the propulsion systems of today and tomorrow.

Dowty propellers Website:


Dowty Exhibition
Formation of Messier-Dowty
John Herring
Ultra Electronics Logo
Dowty GE Group Logo
Dowty Group - Photo of Arle Court Exhibition Hall
Messier-Dowty Post Date Stamp

Comments about this page

  • Hello Martin…thank you for your email.

    Dowty Marine has its own dedicated pages on our website… here is the link:

    There is a Facebook Group called Dowty Group of Companies (which I am also Admin)… we have nearly 2k members and there may be interest if you were to share your information there about the scale model you have, we would not be in a position to purchase unfortunately.

    Kind Regards
    John Redfern

    Dowty Heritage Website Administrator

    By John Redfern (28/03/2021)
  • I notice this page makes no mention of Dowty Marine 1960-1963 and the poduction of the Dowty Tubocraft of which Sir Donald Cambell was involved. I have one of (I believe) only 4 produced by Dowty Marine quarter scale Turbocraft for use as salesman samples of which mine is the only unmolested example left. I was wondering if you would like to purchase it for your archives or would make an interesting office display. Regards Martin

    By Martin Hayward (27/03/2021)

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