Albert EUSTACE Short
Born June 1875 at Chilton Colliery, Durham and died in 1932 after landing his Mussel 2 aeroplane on the River Medway
Griffiths Brewer wrote of Eustace…
“Eustace, then in his early twenties and his brother Oswald, still in his teens, composed the aeronautical firm of Short Brothers whose chief asset and guarantee for their future was a genius for excellence in workmanship and an industry and perseverance which would carry them through enormous difficulties.”
He went on to say…
“Eustace, an idealist, was bitten by the fascination of the operation of machines in the same way that he was bitten by ballooning as distinct from the manufacture of the balloons and although he took a share in the progress and organisation he left every leading role of organising and directing to the younger brother, Oswald and spent more of his time on the practical side of flying. Eustace was a fine balloonist.”
In 1897 Eustace paid £30 for a second-hand passenger-carrying coal-gas balloon called ‘Queen of the West’. He and Oswald set up a showman’s aeronautical business giving displays and penny rides at flower shows, galas and the like.
In 1902 the two brothers advertised their skills at building balloons, kites etc in their first catalogue, produced at Hove.
Eustace stayed at Battersea with his family and continued work in the leased arches railway 75 and 81. He concentrated on the balloon building business, later earning a contract to build two airships for the Admiralty at Cardington, Bedfordshire, in 1916.
He spent more of his time on the practical side of flying leaving the role of organising and directing the Company to his younger brother Oswald.
Eustace’s second daughter, Grace Olga, was only eight years old when she was tragically died as a passenger in a motor, car driven by her father, that collided with a tram standard in North Finchley London.
In 1925 Eustace decided to learn to fly, which was a strong contributory reason for Short’s entry into the practical light aeroplane arena and so a second experimental Short Mussel II came into being. It never went into production.
Eustace flew practically every day, regardless of the weather.
On the 8th April 1932 he returned from a brief flight and made a downwind but otherwise perfect landing on the Medway but was seen to continue taxiing until the seaplane grounded on the mud on the Coxton side of the river.
George Williams went across at once in a motor launch, but Eustace was found to have died of a heart attack just after touching down without time even to cut the ignition.
He evidently had some premonition of the event for on his way out that day he had looked into John Lankester Parker’s office in the Seaplane Works, Rochester and said, “One day I shan’t switch off”. J.L. Parker called after him “Are you alright?” but got no reply.