Short Brothers Aviation Pioneers

1917 – 1947

SHORTS BOYS | These are the men, women and boys who worked for Short Brothers

DAVID SMITH by himself...

Born 1930 in Gillingham David was apprenticed to SHORTS at The Seaplane Works in August 1945 as a fitter and sheet metal worker in No.18 Shop. He worked on components that were sent to the new company Shorts and Harland Ltd. in Belfast.

In 1947 SHORTS were closing their Rochester operations and David had an offer to transfer to Belfast with the Company. However, he heard that 4th and 5th year apprentices who had already made the move were paying thirty shillings a week for lodgings and he was earning twenty-seven shillings a week so he went into the Royal Air Force working on engines.

He had always been interested in engines at the Seaplane Works and often went to No.3 Shop to watch the final assembly and the launchings from the slipway in front of No.3 Shop.

He remembers VJ [Victory over Japan] day and drew a sketch to show where the workers built a huge bonfire further on from No.18 SHOP and the large concrete ramp.

“That’s where the rubbish was collected including Kraft Paper” he tells.” The bonfire was lit but had been doused with inflammable material and went up with a whoosh. Dave remembers an ambulance being driven behind the Shops as he thinks two girls were injured.

HECTOR SMITH, David’s uncle, was chauffeur for Shorts, certainly before 1917 as David remembers a photograph of Hector, the Rolls Royce car and the three Brothers (Horace died in 1917) and a photograph of Hector at the Rochester Airport opening. Hector told David that when he took the Brothers to a nearby village the children would run away ‘screaming’ when they saw Horace’s skull deformity. Hector later moved to Cardington, Bedford for Shorts.

In 1938 Hector took David, then aged 8, to Rochester Airport where he was working on a SCION engine and David was promised a flight but Hector could not mend the engine in time for a flight.

David was very disappointed!

David Smith
David Smith
Short Brothers Award
Short Brothers Award