Verdon-Roe, (Edwin) Alliott 1877 - 1958

Aircraft designer and manufacturer, born in 1877 in Patricroft, Manchester, known as Alliott Verdon-Roe.

Roe left school at fifteen and in 1893 he became an apprentice at the Lancashire and Yorkshire railway locomotive works, afterwards studying marine engineering at King's College, London. In 1899 he joined the British and South African Royal Mail Company.

During his last voyage in 1902, he became fascinated with flight and began making flying models in his spare time. In 1907 Roe won £75 in a model aeroplane competition. He used the money to build a full-sized copy of his model. After fitting a more powerful engine in 1908, he managed a number of short flights at Brooklands; this was the first time a British designed and built aeroplane had flown.

In January 1910 his brother, Humphrey Verdon Roe helped to found A. V. Roe & Co. in Manchester. In 1911 he designed the first enclosed cabin aeroplane, which flew in 1912 and was entered in the British military trials that year. In October 1912 it established a British flying record of seven and a half hours.

In the following year Roe designed and built the famous Avro 504 which became the best-known military aeroplane of the First World War. An Avro 504 carried out a raid on the Zeppelin sheds at Friedrichshafen on 21 November 1914, which was the first air raid in the history of warfare. The plane was revolutionary in its design and in 1917 it became the standard trainer and for a quarter of a century.

Business declined after the war and Roe sold the controlling interest in A. V. Roe & Co. to the Armstrong Siddeley Motor Company in 1928. Roe and two other investors bought an interest in the boat builder Saunders Ltd, of Cowes. The name was changed to Saunders-Roe and Roe remained president of the company for the rest of his life.

Alliott Roe was knighted in 1929n 8 June 1928. He restyled his name to Verdon-Roe in 1933. He died at St Mary's Hospital, Portsmouth, on 4 January 1958.