Cotswold Airport 1st July 2023
The event passed seamlessly with perfect weather. The attendance was more than 1,000 of which a quarter were Dowty related. Amidst a host of aircraft, classic cars, and other fascinating features two events were paramount.
The one remaining Lancaster still flying in this country graced the Kemble sky. This iconic aircraft with the Dowty designed and manufactured undercarriage never fails to stir the emotions. Fresh from celebrating the 80th anniversary of the Dam Busters raid she drew all eyes- many of whom had tears flowing. An event to remember until the end of days.
The sing along of Second World War songs accompanied by Peter Cruwys on the digital piano. Peter brought his 1942 song sheet to play the same songs that so uplifted Dowty employees in the dark wartime days. His remarkable musical skills gave a complete lie to his advanced years. Sir George Dowty’s grandson in law led the singing of A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, The White Cliffs of Dover, There’ll Always Be An England and We’ll Meet Again. An occasion to tear at your heart strings – simply unforgettable.
The Committee would like to record their appreciation to the Air Chief Marshall and the MOD personnel who made the Dowty attendance possible.
Statue of Sir George Dowty
The Committee have commissioned a bronze life size statue of Sir George Dowty astride a Lancaster aircraft wheel. No decision has been reached regarding its location though his home town of Pershore are very keen for the statue to be erected there.
The Committee will issue a note when a decision has been made as to location -together with details of the unveiling ceremony.
Dowty Mining Papers
Following his hugely successful paper entitled The Dowty Contribution to The Battle of Britain, John Whitaker has written a sequel describing the contribution Dowty made to the Mining industry. Alongside this Mr Richard Leitch has written a history of Dowty Mining and Dowty Meco.
Please contact any Committee member for a copy.
The aim of the Sir George Dowty Memorial Committee is to raise the profile of Sir George Dowty and to bring to light the very significant part he played through his world-renowned businesses. Further papers and events are planned – the Committee would welcome suggestions as to how their objectives can be achieved.
Martin Robins – Chairman of the Sir George Dowty Memorial Committee.
John Whitaker – Author
Will Mundy – Administrator
The following is a reproduction of the speech by Sir George’s son, George, that he gave at the event held on 1st July 2023
I would like to thank Martin and his team – Will Mundy for their efforts in organising the Dowty Section at this brilliant event and in memory of my late father and the founder of Dowty Group of Companies. And, for their magnificent efforts in promoting a lasting memorial to my father.
It is also a pleasure to meet many former Dowty employees and their families in this spectacular setting.
My father was always looking to the future and his next product or project. He designed and took out patents on a myriad of products. Some of these were state of the art of the day – such as the internally sprung wheel and even the simplest of products the Dowty Bonded Seal. Many not so successful. He was not afraid to give it a go.
Some of these ideas were conceived, to the annoyance of my mother at dinner parties where he would absent mindedly start scribbling a design on the back of his beloved orange du Maurier cigarette packet – then fine-tuned in his office into the early hours – ready for a design team meeting at 9am the following morning. No time to be lost. A true inventor he was.
As with many of his era he would never speak much about the events of the traumatic war years which not surprisingly culminated in a nervous breakdown at end of the war. One cannot imagine the stresses of that time. My father was so proud that in the war no plane was grounded for lack of a Dowty spare.
It was only two years ago I unearthed an old manuscript – which was my father’s autobiography In His Own words which he dictated to his secretary Caroline shortly before he died in 1975. I am delighted to say that Caroline is with us here today. As also is another former Secretary – Helen. Not one word of the original manuscript has been changed.
I would like to share with you a few of quotes from the book which give a flavour of the amazing man he was.
“I never went anywhere without learning and acting on what I had seen.”
And “I have always maintained that good ideas are more important than money”.
In the war whilst trying to set up a manufacturing company in the safety of the IOM the shipment of machine tools was prohibited by Government. Not discouraged he circumvented this by having the machine tools dismantled and legitimately sent over in pieces. To quote:
“It would be no exaggeration to say that we owe our survival as a nation to our native capacity to outmanoeuvre bureaucrats.” How he would have hated the lawyer driven stifling risk averse safety culture which pervades our world today.
He also asks – what other qualities have I? “Arguably I’m a bluffer – certainly in the early days. The bluff was based on a measure of courage, hope, and determination to succeed. I have never told anybody something could not be done. Whatever the problems I turned round and made jolly well sure it could. I accepted the order first – and coped with the problems afterwards.”
It was widely appreciated that my father was a most compassionate employer. He put his employees interests first to the extent that he tended to pay little heed to his own. Not quite the world we live in today.
As you know he was a great champion of apprenticeships. He was very sceptical in his day of educationalists neither it must be said did he have much time for most politicians. To quote him again.
“Any question as to the purpose of education was considered impertinent. The effect of expanding higher education is over production of graduates and tends to increase academic qualifications required to enter a career although the ability to pass examinations is not necessarily the best method of finding the practical men that industry needs.” Food for thought.
My father regarded the company and employees as his wider family. Even these many years on people still stop to tell me that that they or their father or mother worked for Sir George or did their apprenticeship at Dowty’s – and how much they respected him. Clearly, I am very proud of his legacy almost 50 years since he passed away.
Whilst the Dowty Company no longer exists today I am delighted that the name and logo live on with Dowty Propellers whose representatives we are delighted to welcome today.
Martin and Team – many thanks again and well done for organising this glorious celebration.
Have a great day.