John Moore-Brabazon, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara

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The Right Honourable
The Lord Brabazon of Tara
GBE, MC, PC
Personal details
Born John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon
(1884-02-08)8 February 1884
London, England
Died 17 May 1964(1964-05-17) (aged 80)
Longcross, Surrey, England
Nationality British
Political party Conservatives
Occupation Aviator, politician

John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara, GBE, MC, PC (8 February 1884 – 17 May 1964) was an English aviation pioneer and Conservative politician. He was the first Englishman to pilot a heavier-than-air machine under power in England, and he served as Minister of Transport and Minister of Aircraft Production during World War II.

Early life[edit]

Moore-Brabazon was born in London to Lieutenant-Colonel John Arthur Henry Moore-Brabazon (1828–1908) and his wife, Emma Sophia (d. 1937). He was educated at Harrow School before reading engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge, but did not graduate. He spent university holidays working for Charles Rolls as an unpaid mechanic, and became an apprentice at Darracq in Paris after leaving Cambridge. In 1907 he won the Circuit des Ardennes in a Minerva.

Pioneer aviator[edit]

John Moore-Brabazon in his Voisin Bird of Passage in 1909

Moore-Brabazon learned to fly in 1908 in France in a Voisin biplane. He became the first resident Englishman to make an officially recognized aeroplane flight in England on 2 May 1909, at Shellbeach on the Isle of Sheppey with flights of 450 ft, 600 ft, and 1500 ft. On 4 May 1909, Moore-Brabazon was photographed outside the Royal Aero Club clubhouse Mussel Manor (now known as Muswell Manor the Worlds first Aero Club) alongside the Wright Brothers, the Short Brothers, Charles Rolls, and many other early aviation pioneers. In 1909 he sold the Bird of Passage to Arthur Edward George, who learned to fly in it at the Royal Aero Club's flying-ground at Shellbeach and bought a Short Brothers-built Wright biplane. A documentary, A Dream of Flight, was made in 2009 to celebrate the centenary of his achievement on the Isle of Sheppey.[1]

On 30 October 1909, flying the Short Biplane No. 2, he flew a circular mile and won a 1,000 pound prize offered by the Daily Mail newspaper. On 4 November 1909, as a joke to prove that pigs could fly,[2] he put a small pig in a waste-paper basket tied to a wing-strut of his aeroplane. This may have been the first live cargo flight by aeroplane. With Charles Rolls, he would later make the first ascent in a spherical gas balloon, which had been made in England by the Short brothers.[citation needed]

On 8 March 1910, Moore-Brabazon became the first person to qualify as a pilot in the United Kingdom and was awarded Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate number 1;[3] his car also bore the number-plate FLY 1. However only four months later, his friend Charles Rolls was killed in a flying accident and Moore-Brabazon's wife persuaded him to give up flying.

Pioneer yachtsman[edit]

In 1934 Moore-Brabazon fitted a gyro-rig to a Bembridge Redwing, an Isle of Wight class of yacht that allows and encourages the development of different rigs. The area of the rotating blades complies with the sail area limits of the class and are painted red, also to comply with the class rules.[4] The boat was, and remains, dangerous, but it was probably the first auto-gyro boat.[5] The boat is currently in the collection of the Classic Boat Museum at East Cowes, Isle of Wight, and still 'sails'.

World War I[edit]

With the outbreak of War, Moore-Brabazon return to flying, joining the Royal Flying Corps. He served on the Western Front where he played a key role in the development of aerial photography and reconnaissance. In March 1915 he was promoted to captain and appointed as an equipment officer.[6] On 1 April 1918, when the Royal Flying Corps merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to form the Royal Air Force, Moore-Brabazon was appointed as a staff officer (first class) and made a temporary lieutenant-colonel.[7]

Moore-Brabazon finished the war with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, had been awarded the Military Cross, and had become a commander of the Légion d'honneur.

Conservative MP[edit]

Moore-Brabazon later became a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Chatham (1918–1929) and Wallasey (1931–1942) and served as a junior minister in the 1920s. In 1931 and 1932 he served as a member of the London County Council. He was strongly opposed to war with Nazi Germany and in early 1939, when war seemed imminent, he made contact with Oswald Mosley in an attempt to co-ordinate activity against the war.[8]

Despite his earlier anti-war agitation, in Winston Churchill's wartime government, he was appointed Minister of Transport in October 1940 and joined the Privy Council, becoming Minister of Aircraft Production in May 1941. As the Minister of Transport he proposed the use of Airgraphs to reduce the weight and bulk of mails travelling between troops fighting in the Middle East and their families in the UK. He was forced to resign in 1942 for expressing the hope that Germany and the Soviet Union, then engaged in the Battle of Stalingrad, would destroy each other. Since the Soviet Union was fighting the war on the same side as Britain, the hope that it should be destroyed, though common in the Conservative Party, was unacceptable to the war effort.[2]

Later life[edit]

Moore-Brabazon was elevated to the House of Lords as Baron Brabazon of Tara, of Sandwich in the County of Kent, in April 1942.[9] In 1943 he chaired the Brabazon Committee which planned to develop the post-war British aircraft industry. He was involved in the production of the Bristol Brabazon, a giant airliner that first flew on 4 September 1949. It was then and still is the largest aeroplane built entirely in Britain.

A keen golfer, Moore-Brabazon was captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the governing body of golf, from 1952 to 1953. According to the UK newspaper the Daily Mail, he was a member of the original Pools Panel, which for betting purposes assessed the likely outcome of postponed football matches.[10]

Moore-Brabazon was president of the Royal Aero Club, president of the Royal Institution, chairman of the Air Registration Board, and president of the Middlesex County Automobile Club from 1946 until his death in 1964. He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in 1953.[11]

On 27 November 1906, he married Hilda Mary Krabbé, with whom he had two sons. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Derek.

Moore-Brabazon is buried in the cemetery of Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ A Dream of Flight
  2. ^ a b Arnold-Baker, Charles (1996, 2001): The Companion to British History. Routledge, London. ISBN 0-415-18583-1.
  3. ^ Flight 12 March 1910
  4. ^ "Classic Boat Museum". Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  5. ^ "Autogiro Boats - History 1870-1933". Retrieved 14 April 2012. 
  6. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 29134. p. 3806. 16 April 1915. Retrieved 2009-05-06.
  7. ^ The London Gazette: no. 30607. p. 4030. 2 April 1918. Retrieved 2009-05-07.
  8. ^ Martin Pugh, Hurrah for the Blackshirts! Fascists and Fascism in Britain Between the Wars, Pimlico, 2006, p. 279
  9. ^ The London Gazette: no. 35541. p. 1859. 28 April 1942. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
  10. ^ Bryan, Lee (26 January 2013). "Daily Mail - Football Pools Panel 50th Birthday". London. Retrieved 26 January 2013. 
  11. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 39732. p. 10. 30 December 1952. Retrieved 2009-08-16.
  12. ^ "John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon - Find a Grave". findagrave.com. Retrieved 30 November 2013. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Gerald Fitzroy Hohler
Member of Parliament for Chatham
19181929
Succeeded by
Sydney Frank Markham
Preceded by
Robert Chadwick
Member of Parliament for Wallasey
19311942
Succeeded by
George Leonard Reakes
Political offices
Preceded by
John Reith
Minister of Transport
1940–1941
Succeeded by
The Lord Leathers
as Minister of War Transport
Preceded by
The Lord Beaverbrook
Minister of Aircraft Production
1941–1942
Succeeded by
John Llewellin
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Brabazon of Tara
1942–1964
Succeeded by
Derek Moore-Brabazon