16th July 1912 – Parkgate has evening visit by Robert King
On Tuesday evening the 16th July, the residents of Parkgate were treated to a visit by Robert A. King in his
Farman biplane. King wanted to show the boys of Mostyn House School his aircraft, so he had taken off from
Freshfield aerodrome, and flown across the River Mersey and down the Dee estuary to Parkgate. He landed
at about 7.30pm on the beach near the cricket ground, mist having preventing him from landing on the cricket
ground. The noise of the aircraft could be heard about 10 minutes before he landed, and had attracted quite
a large crowd. King took off again at about 8.40pm, having had to wait for the sand to dry out. He headed in
the direction of West Kirby, there he flew low over the rooftops, circling the town two or three times and
attracting the attention of a large number of residents. He then headed off towards New Brighton, where he
landed on the beach near the Red Noses. On landing, King said that flying that evening had been quite
hazardous as he had encountered several air pockets and at one time had dropped 40 feet. The aircraft
stayed the night on the beach returning to Freshfield the next day.
22nd August 1912 – Gustav Hamel flies over New Brighton
On Thursday 22nd August as part of the public aviation demonstrations organised by the Daily Mail, Gustav
Hamel flew from Southport to Northwich, crossing over the River Mersey past New Brighton, Liverpool, and
Warrington, flying the 40 miles in 40 minutes. Later he flew from Northwich to Macclesfield in 17 minutes, and
then on to Buxton, passing over the Cat and Fiddle at a height of 2,500 feet.
23rd August 1912 - New Brighton seaplane visit
The River Mersey has played a prominent part in aviation around The Wirral. As early as May 1912 the Mayor
of Wallasey had written to the Daily Mail newspaper, enquiring if New Brighton could be included in it’s 13-
week “voyage” round England by the Daily Mail’s French aviator Henri Salmet. In fact, the Frenchmen thought
that any kudos that could be gained by the visit, had already been stolen by the activity of local aviators, and
therefore they would not include New Brighton in the “voyage”. In order to overcome the disappointment felt
by the locals, the directors of the Pier Company managed to arrange a visit with the Daily Mail, of Frank Huck’s
floatplane. The aircraft, or “water plane” as it was called in those days, was a Maurice Farman two-seat
pusher biplane, powered by an 11-cylinder 80hp Gnome engine.
On Friday the 23rd August, the aircraft arrived in sections from Birmingham and was assembled by Alf
Kingham and two Frenchmen (Hubert & Francois), in a garage at New Brighton. On Monday following
assemble, the aircraft was moved to a tent on the beach that was to be used as a “hangar”. Here the public
for a charge of 6d (2½p) could inspect aircraft. A raft had been constructed and connected to the north side of
the pier, so that passengers could board the aircraft.
The aircraft was to be flown each afternoon between Tuesday 27th and Saturday 31st August by Monsieur
Jules Fischer. Passengers were able to purchase tickets at £2 per flight, from the Pier masters office. On the
Tuesday, an estimated crowd of 30,000 spectators had gathered on and around the pier to see the aircraft
fly. The aircraft was wheeled on a trolley from the hangar to the waters edge, then floated off the trolley and
flown to the raft used for boarding passengers.
|On Friday 23rd August 1912, Frank Hucks 'Water Plane' arrived at New Brighton to give joy rides for £2 a flight from the
pier. The aircraft could be viewed for 6d a time in a tent which had been erected as a hangar to the North of the pier.
Passengers board the aircraft from a raft connected to the pier.
|The aircraft was a two seat Maurice Farman with an 11 cylinder Gnome engine. On Thursday 29th August whilst a lady
passenger was boarding the aircraft, a gust of wind caught the aircraft sending it out into the river with only the
passenger on board. The aircraft heeled over, but the passenger was rescued.
On the Wednesday, weather proved unsuitable for flying so no flights took place. On Thursday, flying was to
start early with three flights organised for disappointed passenger from Wednesday. These were to take
place from outside the hangar. Weather conditions were not perfect during the morning, so it was not until
the afternoon that the aircraft was taken out of it’s hangar and run down to the waters edge. Miss Cecilia
Francis Murray, who had been waiting since early morning for her flight, took her place in the rear passenger
seat of the aircraft and was strapped in. The two mechanics held mooring ropes whilst the pilot was about to
rope. The other mechanic was dragged into the water up to his neck and released his grip on the second
mooring rope leaving the aircraft to drift into the river.
The spectators lining the promenade thought that they were witnessing the start of a flight, totally unaware
of what was taking place, until Monsieur Fischer rushed into the water. He was unable to do anything and the
aircraft drifted further into the river and then heeled over with Miss Murray still strapped into her seat,
trapping her beneath the water. Fortunately, Miss Murray kept her head and extricated herself from the seat
and as the aircraft drifted to shallower water climbed onto part of the superstructure, which enabled her to
keep her head above water. Ten men rushed into the water and attempted to reach the aircraft. One of
these was George Clowes, dressed as a cowboy on horseback. Clowes was from the Wild West Show at the
Summer Gardens. He galloped into the water, but the horse hit a sandbank, became nervous and returned to
the beach. Three men actually reached the aircraft and holding onto it, caused it to sink even lower in the
water. Fortunately, a small boat handled by Edmond C. March arrived on the seen and was able to rescue
Miss Murray. She was eventually taken to Liscard Hospital were she was kept in for two days. Fortunately the
only problem found, was that she had lost her handbag in the wreck containing £2.
At the time of the accident, Henri Salmet was flying over the River Mersey from Chester to Preston as part of
the Daily Mail “voyage” around Britain. He landed close to the Red Noses, and having ascertained that
everything was under control, returned to his aircraft and took off just after 5pm to continue his flight to
The “water plane” was secured, and when the tide receded, was dismantled, and returned to the hangar on
the beach. In August 1914, the aircraft was impressed into military service with the Royal Naval Air Service
(RNAS) for the sum of £600. Given the serial number 887, its demise came later on in the year, when on 2nd
December, it was blown over in the River Hamble.
30th August 1912 – Henry Melly flies over The Wirral again
On Friday the 30th August, Henry Melly flew across The Wirral again. He was returning to the Liverpool
Aviation School at Waterloo from the Audlem and District Flower Show in a very strong head wind. Melly in the
two-seater Bleriot had flown the previous day to Audlem, arriving shortly after one o'clock, having flown the
fifty miles in an hour and twenty minutes the wind continued to be bad all afternoon and evening, no
exhibition flights were attempted. The return journey, which should have taken place at 6 o'clock in the
evening, was postponed till the following morning. An early start was made in a light breeze with Edward
Birch as passenger, and after circling once round, Melly headed off for Beeston Castle, but failing to get the
machine to climb more than 150 feet. He decided to land his passenger a couple of miles from Nantwich, the
engine missing badly. However, a fresh start was made, and Melly headed off in a direct line across The Wirral
to Ellesmere Port, where he joined the south side of the Mersey. By then the wind had increased to about 35
miles an hour, and progress was exceedingly slow, and as it was undesirable to fly 10 miles down the Mersey
with a missing engine, he decided to travel via, Birkenhead, Bidston and New Brighton then across the Mersey
to Waterloo Beach. The distance actually covered was 42 miles in 1 hour. 37 minutes.
11th September 1912 – Bebington show, Henry Melly fails to fly
In September 1912, The Wirral & Birkenhead Agriculture Show was to have a flying display by Henry Melly. He
was due to fly across from the Liverpool Aviation School at Waterloo to the show ring at the show ground in
Bebington. On the Wednesday the 11th, the wind was too strong for the aircraft to take off from Waterloo,
leaving a very disappointed crowd at Bebington. Thursday the 12th was calmer, and. Melly took off in the two-
seater Bleriot in ideal flying weather to reach Bebington, but the engine started missing badly and he landed
in a field adjoining Aintree Racecourse. At mid-day, after changing one plug, he started again with the
intention of returning to Waterloo, and on approaching the shore realised that the tide was up and as there
was no possibility of landing there he turned back inland and landed again at Aintree. As the engine was still
missing it was inadvisable to proceed farther, and at 3 o'clock he returned to Waterloo, again leaving a very
disappointed crowd at the show ground.