Short Brothers Aviation Pioneers

1917 – 1947

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


George worked at the Short Brothers Seaplane factory in Rochester as a mechanical fitter. It is not known for sure exactly when he started working there but a letter from Shorts confirms he was there at least as early as March 1939, at which time he was aged 19. The letter from Shorts asks him to start as soon as convenient and report to a Mr Capps in No. 4 Shop at 7:00 pm. Starting on the night shift he worked on most parts of the Sunderland flying boat over the years including the cockpit and instrument panels, sometimes complaining about having to get himself into small spaces to work. His employment with Shorts ended when operations were moved to Belfast in 1946/7.

George Arthur Lewing and Nancy Emily Lewing
George Arthur Lewing and Nancy Emily Lewing

Nancy, George’s wife, also worked at the Seaplane factory in Rochester in the canteen. She probably got the job through George’s inside information already working there himself. It isn’t clear exactly when Nancy started working for Shorts in Rochester but it is likely she finished at the beginning of 1945 when she was pregnant with the first of their 3 sons David. Nancy rode a pushbike to Shorts everyday from Cliffe and on one occasion, on hearing a plane behind her, thinking it was a Messerschmitt, she rode into a ditch. It turned out to be a Spitfire.