A. V. Roe & Co. Ltd


Alliott Verdon Roe and Humphrey Verdon Roe formed A. V. Roe & Co Ltd one of the world's first aircraft manufacturers, in 1910. Humphrey brought financial and organisational skills to the company whilst Alliott was the designer and constructor of the early aircraft the company built at Brownsfield Mill on Great Ancoats Street, Manchester.

The first aircraft built was the Roe I Triplane named the Bullseye and first flown in 1909. The first successfully mass-produced aircraft was the Avro E or Avro 500 first flown in 1912. During the First World War the company's most successful model was the Avro 504. The company continued to manufacture the 504 for almost 20 years, producing 8,340 at factories in Hamble, Failsworth, Miles Platting and Newton Heath.

In the early years the company conducted test flights at the Alexandra Park aerodrome in South Manchester. By the 1920s a decision was taken to move test flights to Woodford, Cheshire, which continues to serve this function for BAE Systems.

In 1920 A. V. Roe & Co Ltd was acquired by Crossley Motors, which could make use of the factory for building car bodies. By 1928 financial losses at Crossley prompted the sale of A. V. Roe & Co Ltd to the Armstrong Siddeley Development Co. Also, in 1928 Alliott Verdon Roe sold his shares in the business and established a new company, Saunders-Roe. In 1935 A.V. Roe & Co Ltd became a subsidiary of Hawker Siddeley.

A. V. Roe & Co Ltd became experts in building training aircraft. In the 1930s the firm successfully marketed its biplane, the Avro Tutor, to the RAF. With war on the horizon, A. V. Roe & Co Ltd shifted its focus to combat aircraft, including the Lancaster Bomber, Avro Manchester and Lincoln.

In the post-war years A. V. Roe & Co Ltd adapted the Lancaster to create the civilian Lancasterian plane and the maritime reconnaissance plane, the Shackleton. The company's airliner, the Tudor, was less successful, though it played an important part in the Berlin Airlift. The Avro York was more successful, finding use both in the RAF and civilian life, and the Avro 748 series of turboprop passenger and freight aircraft were sold worldwide.

A. V. Roe & Co Ltd was finally absorbed into Hawker Aviation in July 1963, and the 'Avro' brand name ceased to be used until British Aerospace (BAE) decided to revive it for the Avro RJ (regional jet) in 1994.