loader image

Windermere Timeline 1910 – 1919

Something that beckoned …


July 1910

The first aeroplane floats with a ‘step‘ in the world were designed and tested by Oscar Gnosspelius, on Gnosspelius No. 1. – Statutory Declaration, 11 January 1913.

7 July 1911

Arrival of a landplane commissioned by Captain Edward Wakefield, having been built by A. V. Roe & Co at Brownsfield Mills, Manchester and test-flown at Brooklands, for conversion to a hydro-aeroplane and to be known as Waterbird.

Wakefield described flying from water as “Something that beckoned …”. – Aeromarine Origins by H F King.

25 November 1911

Gnosspelius made the second successful take-off outside France and the USA by a hydro-aeroplane/ the second successful take-off in the world with a stepped float/ the first successful take-off at Windermere, in Gnosspelius No. 2. – The Westmorland Gazette, 21 December 1911.

It was the first British hydro-aeroplane to employ auxiliary wing-tip floats. – The History of British Aviation 1908-1914 by R D Brett.

25 November 1911

Herbert Stanley Adams made the first successful take-off and landing outside of France and the USA by a hydro-aeroplane/ the first successful take-off and landing in the world with a stepped float/ the first successful take-off and landing at Windermere, in Waterbird. – Kendal Mercury and Times, 1 December 1911.

The central float and wing-tip floats were made by Borwick & Sons.

20 January 1912

Lieutenant Arthur Longmore was the first member of the Royal Navy to successfully take off and land a floatplane/ the first member of the Royal Navy to fly at Windermere/ the only person other than Adams to fly Waterbird, when he test-flew Waterbird for the Admiralty and compiled a Report © Trustees of the National Museum of the Royal Navy; his arrival having been kept a secret. He became Air Chief Marshal Sir.

23 January 1912

Rear Admiral Ernest Troubridge (later Admiral Sir), Chief of Staff, published a paper on The Development of Naval Aeroplanes. For the obtaining of personnel, he proposed ‘Bristol school or Wakefield hydro-aeroplane school to train those pilots that cannot be received at Eastchurch at present’.

14 February 1912

Gnosspelius made the first successful take-off and landing in the world by a hydro-monoplane of ‘normal‘ type/ the first in Britain by a hydro-monoplane of any type in Gnosspelius No. 2. – The Aeroplane magazine, 29 February 1912.

He was the only person at Windermere to design and fly his own hydro-aeroplane.

29 February 1912

Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, was asked in the House of Commons about hydro-aeroplanes and the Royal Navy. He replied by referring to experiments, including at Windermere, and that “the results so far attained have been promising”.

29 March 1912

Waterbird was rendered beyond economic repair when the hangar collapsed at Cockshott.

16 April 1912

Churchill was asked in the House of Commons about hydro-aeroplanes at Windermere. He answered that tests would continue on the lake.

3 May 1912

The first passenger to fly at Windermere was Wakefield in Waterhen [Waterbird’s successor]. – Flight magazine, 11 May 1912.

By the end of 1912, more than 100 fare-paying passengers had been carried in over 250 flights.

15 July 1912

Gertrude Bacon became the first woman in the world to be taken out as a passenger in a hydro-aeroplane/ the first passenger in a hydro-aeroplane to make a complete circuit of the lake, in Waterhen. – International Women in Science by C M C Haines.

16 July 1912

Wakefield became the first person in the world to fly as a passenger in a hydro-monoplane, an Admiralty Deperdussin. – Letter to Wakefield from Charles Grey, Editor of The Aeroplane magazine, 17 July 1912.

The Deperdussin had been converted from a landplane at Windermere, in compliance with an Agreement between the Admiralty and Wakefield which was subject to the Official Secrets Act.

16 July 1912

Gertrude Bacon became the first woman in the world to fly as a passenger in a hydro-monoplane, in the Deperdussin being tested for the Admiralty. – International Women in Science by C M C Haines.

19 July 1912

An Admiralty representative came to Windermere to observe a new method of transmitting wireless messages from air to surface.

9 September 1912

Second Lieutenant John Trotter Royal Field Reserve Artillery, received the first lesson with the Lakes Flying Company, the first British hydro-aeroplane school.

12 September 1912

Wakefield obtained UK Patent No. 27,770 for the means of attaching a float to a hydro-aeroplane.

27 September 1912

Hill of Oaks was inspected by Lord Rayleigh, President of the Advisory Committee for Aeronautics.

12 November 1912

Trotter was granted an Aviator’s Certificate by the Royal Aero Club (‘RAeC’) No. 360 – this image is of the RAeC’s index card. Trotter was the first person/ first member of the Army to achieve a UK Certificate with tests taken on a hydro-aeroplane.

‘A letter from Wakefield, of 21 February 1912, with regard to Hydro-aeroplane Certificates was read. At the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (‘FAI’) Conference held in Paris on 15 and 16 March 1912, the suggestion of the RAeC that Aviators’ Certificates should be issued in respect of flights made on hydro-aeroplanes under the existing rules was adopted.’ – Minutes of Executive Committee of the RAeC, 19 March 1912.

18 March 1913

Wakefield obtained UK Patent No. 27,771 for a stepped float for a hydro-aeroplane. After considerable experiment, he had combined features of construction in a novel way. – H Hatfield, Patents Judge.

12 June 1913

The only occasion when a Windermere-based hydro-aeroplane operated outside of the Lake District, save for flights in 1919 to/ from the Isle of Man. Having been transported by traction engine, Waterhen was flown by Adams at Hornsea Mere, near the Yorkshire coast, for Hornsea Horse Show. Passengers, on the first ever flights from the Mere, were taken up at £2 a time. – Hull Daily Mail, 12 June 1913.

25 August 1913

The first flight at Windermere with 2 passengers, by Adams in Waterhen.

30 August 1913

The first UK Hydro-aeroplane Certificate No. 614 was awarded to Lakes Flying Company pupil James Bland, and on 15 April 1914 the second Certificate No. 765 to Oswald Lancaster.

On 28 January 1913, Wakefield had accompanied the RAeC representatives at an Extraordinary Conference of the FAI held in Paris. ‘The FAI decided that ordinary Aviators’ Certificates should not be valid for flights over both land and water. It was further decided that Certificates should be granted in respect of tests over water, but that such Certificates should not be valid for flights over land.’ – Minutes of Executive Committee of the RAeC, 4 February 1913.

Also at that Conference, the Schneider Trophy for an annual international seaplane contest was accepted and the rules passed.

13 November 1913

Wakefield obtained UK Patent No. 18,051 for a float of a seaplane to support its own weight during flight.

12 February 1914

Gnosspelius obtained UK Patent No. 10,801 for a V shaped float. This gave a sharper angle, reduced drag and was advantageous for structural reasons and for aerial considerations. The V shape is used on almost every float manufactured today.

22 January 1915

Flying tuition by moonlight (drawing by Clifford Fleming-Williams) was a record. – The Aeroplane magazine, 27 January 1915.

21 October 1915

The first seaplane (Waterhen) to alight on Esthwaite Water, flown by John Lankester Parker with pupil John Coats.

18 March 1916

The first seaplane (Blackburn Improved Type 1) to alight on Coniston Water. This photo was taken back at Windermere of Henry Reid standing in the front cockpit and Parker behind. – Blackburn Aircraft since 1909 by A J Jackson.

May 1916

The school was taken over by the Government, so that training operations at Cockshott and Hill of Oaks became Royal Naval Air Service Unit Hill of Oaks.

3 June 1916

The headquarters of the RNAS at Windermere moved from Cockshott to Hill of Oaks, and, with the departure of civilian instructors, the name was changed to RNAS Windermere.

9 July 1916

RNAS Windermere was inspected by the First Sea Lord, Sir Henry Jackson.

July 1916

Shortly after discharge from hospital, Flight Lieutenant James Ferrand (later Major) was posted to RNAS Windermere as an instructor, where he remained until 20 November 1916. On 28 November 1915, whilst piloting an F.B.A. off Ostend, he had attacked an Albatros seaplane accompanied by 3 more seaplanes and a destroyer. Ferrand’s gunner brought down the Albatros and he then attacked the destroyer, whilst under heavy shell fire from the destroyer and shore batteries. It was the first time that a seaplane had shot down another. For this action, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Order.

20 May 1917

Two ex-pupils, Flight Sub-Lieutenants Charles Morrish and Henry Boswell, were the pilots of Curtiss H-12 Large America 8663 flying boat near Flushing in the North Sea when bombs were dropped on a U-boat. ‘This was the first submarine sunk by the Royal Naval Air Service.’ – The Royal Navy Day by Day by L Phillips. Both were awarded the Distinguished Service Cross on 22 June 1917.

Within the same list, ex-pupil Flight Sub-Lieutenant Charles McNicholl was also awarded the DSC, for his services in convoy protection and combatting submarines whilst stationed at RNAS Dundee.

On 31 August 1917, Adams (then Squadron Commander, later Lieutenant Colonel) was awarded the DSC for services in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Flight Commander Guy Price, an instructor at Windermere November-December 1916, was awarded the DSC on 22 February 1918 and Bar on 16 March 1918 [a gap of only 22 days], an ace having downed 12 enemy aircraft.

Flight Lieutenant John Hume began his training at Windermere in May 1915 and was posthumously awarded the DSC on 17 May 1918 for services in Mesopotamia.

June 1917

The White Ensign was lowered at RNAS Windermere.

3 June 1918

The first list of recipients of the Distinguished Flying Cross included ex-pupils Captain Harold Gonyon, for bombing a U-boat near Dunkirk on 3 April, and Captain Victor Bessette, for services over the North Sea.

The same list also included Captain Cooper Pattinson from Windermere for shooting down a Zeppelin over Heligoland Bight on 10 May.

The Distinguished Flying Cross was instituted after formation of the Royal Air Force as the equivalent to the Distinguished Service Cross for acts of valour at sea – between the level of these awards and the Victoria Cross is the Distinguished Service Order.

19 July 1918

Flight Officer William Dickson’s first appointment was on 11 November 1916 as a pupil at Windermere. – High Commanders of the Royal Air Force by Air Commodore H Probert. Dickson was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for having taken part in the first strike from an aircraft carrier (returning aircraft would have to ditch in the sea), when 7 Sopwith Camels from HMS Furious attacked airship sheds at Tondern, Denmark. ‘The most outstandingly successful carrier operation of the war’. – Naval Aviation in the First World War by R D Layman. He became Marshal of the RAF Sir.

An attack on Tondern had been recommended by Captain Oliver Swann, commanding officer of aircraft carrier HMS Campania. – On 18 November 1911, he took off in an Avro D from Cavendish Dock, Barrow-in-Furness. The choice of aircraft was discussed with Longmore (then Wing Commander serving in the Admiralty Air Department) when he visited Campania. Swann became Air Vice Marshal Sir.

August 1918

Borwick & Sons were subcontracted by Dick, Kerr & Co. Ltd. of Preston to manufacture Felixstowe F.3 flying boat hulls. – Dick, Kerr & Co. Limited A History of the Company 1853-1919 by J Shorrock.

21 July 1919

Seaplanes returned to Windermere with the arrival of an Avro 504K operated by the Avro Transport Company and flown by Howard Pixton, with a second the following week. They were based at the Cockshott hangar. The enterprise included joyriding flights which had been pioneered by Waterhen, passenger flights, instruction and delivery of newspapers to the Isle of Man.

4 August 1919

The first flight carrying newspapers to the Isle of Man, by Pixton. The Daily News was overprinted in red ‘Seaplane Edition’.

8 August 1919

The first fare-paying passenger from or to the Isle of Man, flown by Pixton.

8 October 1919

The end of Avro Transport’s operations at Windermere.

Save for a visiting seaplane in 1933, there was then a gap of 23 years until 11 September 1942 when Parker test-flew the first Windermere-assembled Short Sunderland flying boat.