Brownsfield Mill was built along the Rochdale Canal in 1825 at Binns Place, Great Ancoats Street, Manchester.
Humphrey Verdon Roe inherited the business of Everard & Co, which made ‘Bullseye Braces’ and all forms of belting and webbing at its factory at Brownsfield Mill. With his brother Alliott, he founded A.V. Roe and Company (‘Avro’) on 1 January 1910 and Alliott would build his aircraft in the basement. At that time, Avro was willing to accept commissions to build aircraft. Humphrey replied to adverts by Edward Wakefield, which led to Avro building ‘Waterbird’ at Brownsfield Mill, then to Brooklands for testing and ultimately to Windermere on 7 July 1911 where conversion took place to a hydro-aeroplane.
Gertrude Bacon, who flew as a passenger at Windermere in 1912, wrote: ‘I visited the aerodromes and aeroplane works that by then were springing up in all directions. One of the earliest of the latter I found in a mill outside Manchester, where half the building was devoted to the manufacture of men’s braces, and the other to ‘Avroplanes’. Of the former the most romantic example was undoubtedly Windermere.’
The plan of Waterbird is the oldest surviving Avro aeroplane plan and is signed by Avro’s works manager Reginald Parrott.
The rudder is the oldest surviving part carrying the legend ‘A.V. Roe & Co.’.