Kingston Aviation


Please click on a period on the timeline below.

The 1910s were the pioneering years of aircraft development led by aviation enthusiasts. Everything changed in 1914 with the advent of World War One and the rapidly changing role aircraft played in the conflict. The government poured money into aircraft production and by 1918 it had become an industry of national significance.

  • 22 October 1910 – Thomas Sopwith’s first flight at Brooklands in a Howard Wright Avis monoplane. The flight lasted for some 300 yards and ended in a minor crash.
  • 1912 – Tommy Sopwith and his young team build their first aircraft at Brooklands. They purchase the Roller Skating Rink in Kingston upon Thames as their factory.
  • 1915 – they are expanding into a new 51/2 acre factory further up Canbury Park Road. This site will remain the home of Sopwith Aviation and its successors, H. G. Hawker Engineering and Hawker Aircraft right through to 1958.
  • From 1912 to 1941, aircraft are taken by road from Kingston to Brooklands for final assembly and flight testing before delivery to customers.
  • In 1918 and 1919 to boost output Sopwith Aviation leases the huge new National Aircraft Factory No2 on the Richmond Road in Ham just north of Kingston.
Sopwith First Flight
Sopwith’s First Flight