Monday, March 2, 2015

A bank of knee mills at Dowty Aviation, 1967

Above, from Bryan Little, Cheltenham in Pictures. (Newton Abbot:  David & Charles, 1967). For the full article, see Dowty Aviation History.

George Dowty began his career working for the Gloster Aircraft Company. In 1935 he founded Dowty Aviation in Cheltenham, England, making wheels and landing gear for aircraft. In the 1960's, Dowty acquired Rotol Airscrews and Boulton Paul Aircraft.  In the same decade, it was involved in developing fuel control systems for the Harrier jump jet and power controls for the Concorde. At that time, about 10,000 workers were employed in the Gloucester area, almost half of them at the Dowty-Rotol factory.  In 1992, the TI Group acquired the company which shortly thereafter hived off most of the Dowty companies. A combined company, Messier-Bugatti-Dowty remains today the world's largest manufacturer of aircraft landing gear, with a continued presence in Gloucester.  In 2007, GE Aviation also bought part of the company, including the Arle Court factory, and in 2008 announced that the factory would close in 2010.  (To see the factory as it was in 1946, see Britain from Above.)  One worker anonymously commented:

"I am only anonymous because GE forbid us to talk to the press. I work for Dowty Propellers, we all hate GE here, and this includes senior management. In just 2 years they have succesfully (sic) destroyed all moral. I hope the Union wins this case, GE need bringing up short, this is not the USA and we are not held in Guantanamo bay, no matter how much those arrogant ***** would wish it.

GE taking over was the worse thing that ever happened to us, we all wish we now worke (sic) for Rolls-Royce."

Tragically, in 2008 the 22-year-old grandson of the founder shot himself with a friend's shotgun.  While suicide was suspected, the death was ruled accidental.

No comments: