John George Aulesbrook Kitchen (1869 – 1940)

‘Jack’ Kitchen was a remarkable engineer who lodged 175 Provisional Patent Applications, of which 118 were carried through to completion. He lived at Bowness-on-Windermere during 1897-1903 and from 1921-1940.

He collaborated with Isaac Storey in 1910 to build an annular-winged aeroplane at Middleton Sands, Heysham, powered by a 50hp Gnome like Waterbird – it is Kitchen in the photograph opposite watching Waterbird. Also, in 1911 he patented a pair of wheel-shaped floats with rubber rims attached to a transverse leaf-sprung undercarriage. When alighting on water, the watertight disc wheels would be in the horizontal position, but by operating two cranked levers, a seaplane would be transformed into a landplane by moving the discs through 90 degrees into the vertical position.

In 1915, he patented a reversing rudder. Most of the experimental work was carried out at the boatyards of Borwick & Sons. It comprised two rudders, port and starboard, each of which was a half-cylinder. The halves of the rudder could be partially rotated, either together or independently, by meams of concentric shafts. The unidirectional propeller rotated within the rudders, thus containing the slipstream. So, boats could be brought to a sudden stop or have extreme  manoevrability. The British, American, Australian and Canadian Navies were all users.

On 27 March 1918, Kitchen applied for Patent No. 124,572, which was accepted on 27 March 1919, to cover an extension to aeroplanes of the protection of his patent for reversing rudders. Rudders would be arranged at the tail of an aeroplane, so as to provide not only directional control but also quick stopping. This principle was adopted to provide reverse thrust on jet engines when landing.


Windermere: birthplace of British naval and civil marine aeroplanes