Kingston Aviation Heritage Project

The Centre for the Historical Record is collaborating with the Kingston Aviation Heritage Project on an oral history to collect and record memories of former employees of Kingston's Hawker Sidley Factory. Sue Hawkins, from the Centre, will be acting as an advisor to the oral history sub-project.

The oral history project is part of a larger undertaking, which has Heritage Lottery Funding, to commemorate the founding of the factory by Tommy Sopwith 100 years ago. Many of Britain's most famous fighter aircraft started life on drawing boards and in factories at Kingston upon Thames, but the fact that no other town in the country has contributed so much to the UK's air forces has largely been overlooked.

A group of former employees and aviation enthusiasts (led by Bill Downey and David Hassard) will put these achievements on the map, thanks to a £49,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The centrepiece of the celebration will be a four day festival in early June in Kingston's Market Place, and extracts from the oral history recordings will be used in presentations at the centenary exhibition and also on the dedicated website. Volunteers are being recruited to help run the project that will also involve local schools, colleges, clubs and societies.

If anyone is interested in volunteering for any aspect of this project they should contact Bill Downey or David Hassard at

Watch David Hassard talk about Kingston's rich aviation history and the legacy and impact of this in the Great War

Centre for the Historical Record