Exhibition launches celebrating Kingsbury’s First World War aviation history

PUBLISHED: 13:33 29 June 2017 | UPDATED: 13:55 29 June 2017

Charabanc - World War 1 aviation history in Kingsbury is being celebrated in an exhibition

Charabanc - World War 1 aviation history in Kingsbury is being celebrated in an exhibition


Very little is known about how First World War aircraft were made in factories in Kingsbury, but now the district’s aviation history is being celebrated in a free exhibition.

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The Wonderful Flying Machines exhibition in Kingsbury Library, Kingsbury Road, launches tomorrow with a free talk by local historian Jim Moher from 11am to 12pm.

Mr Moher, a former Fryent councillor, became interested in the project nine months ago when he fell upon some old pictures.

He “started digging” and produced a booklet for the Wembley History Society.

Included in the booklet are fascinating facts about the people involved in making the aircraft of the First World War who came from Kingsbury, Hendon, Cricklewood, Kilburn and Wembley and includes pictures produced at the time.

Royal Visit by King George and Queen Mary to Kingsbury in 1917Royal Visit by King George and Queen Mary to Kingsbury in 1917

He said: “At that time there was a huge manufacturing complex all along the Edgware Road to Cricklewood.

“About one fifth of the aircraft during the war were made in Kingsbury, starting off with reconnaissance planes which flew out to the battle fields and carried back intelligence.

“But as the war escalated they were more and more called upon to make fighter planes and bombers and as a result more people were then employed in the factories.”

He added: “In Kingsbury there were more than 4,000 employed in the aircraft industry, particularly women.

“Linen covers were needed for aircraft wings so they employed seamstresses. They put the linen in dope to make it all stick together whatever the weather, but the vapours from the dope was dangerous, stank and exposed workers to the vapours.”

Integral to Mr Moher’s research was a magazine produced by Airco, the aircraft manufacturing company, called the Airco Rag.

Mr Moher added: “They were producing this magazine in 1917 with pictures and stories about all the people who worked there.

“They reported a royal visit in 1917 when King George and Queen Mary made a visit to Edgware Road with people lining the street.”

The exhibition runs from June until November.

The booklet is on sale throughout the exhibition and costs £10 with all proceeds going to the Wembley History Society.

The project is supported by Brent Council.

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