Short Brothers Aviation Pioneers

1909 – 1917

Muswell Manor / Shellbeach / Leysdown: 1909 - 1910


The move to Eastchurch….

However, with the passage of time the site was found to be restrictive as flights got longer. The ground was too soft as the planes got heavier and there were ditches and so the move to Eastchurch was made, in 1910, along with the Aero Club.

Frank McClean, George Cockburn and Horace Short set up a flying school at Eastchurch and the first four naval officers, to be taught flying were sent there. So began the Royal Naval Air Service.


The training of naval officers led the Shorts to think that aircraft development would be based on using water take-offs and landings as there were no hard runways at that time.

Continuing success led to the search for larger premises with access to a clear stretch of water and that led to Borstal, Rochester on the banks of the River Medway. The land was purchased from a Rochester councillor and so The Seaplane Works was ‘born’ in 1917.

Gradually the Shorts erected more and more ‘workshops’ with No.1 at the Rochester end and finishing with No.18 at the far end. As No.2 shop became available the workforce started their move away from Eastchurch to Rochester.