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Bonkers Blog February 2019

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20 February - Bombing Hall Place

Even on days like today when there is no time for a proper blog - and not much material either - there are additions to Bonkers. Sometimes it’s the various Photo features and at other times Bexley’s Press Releases.

The latter are usually given no publicity at all on BiB but today’s is an exception for no other reason than I liked it.

As a child of the 1950s growing up in Farnborough Hampshire under a sky filled with supersonic Hawker Hunters, flying wings, flying bedsteads, Bristol Brabazons and Saunders Roe Princess flying boats, there were few aeronautical events unknown to those of us who were forever craning our necks. The Vickers Vimy may not have been a familiar sight in 1949 when I first lived there, although Spitfires were, but it was only 30 years since the Vimy was the first aeroplane to cross the Atlantic non-stop.

Alcock and BrownWhat I didn’t know is that like the air blowers that my father played with in the 1960s as part of Concorde testing, the Vimy, or at the very least bits of it, was made within our borough. I once saw a replica Vimy flying and now a whole one hundred years has gone by since John Alcock and Arthur Brown flew one into the record books.

Bexley Council has had the brilliant idea of celebrating the centenary at Hall Place and has today issued a Press Release on the subject. They should get Royalty down to do the honours, it deserves nothing less.

The Vimy was built as a bomber but never saw active service, most of the First World War heavy bombers that flew over Germany were made by Handley Page.

One of those Handley Pages en-route to bomb Constantinople suffered engine failure and crashed into the sea in August 1917. The pilot was captured and taken prisoner. He was Flight Lieutenant John Alcock.

Vickers Vimy

Above: From Purnell’s History of the World Wars.

Vickers Vimy history

Both Alcock and Brown were Knighted within days of their achievement but Sir John Alcock was killed just six months later when he crashed his Vickers Viking in fog in Rouen.


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