The Cambridge Chronicle 17th September 1909




But a few short miles from Cambridge, at the little village of Oakington, there is at the present time being built an all-British monoplane, with which the constructors at an early date intend to try and win the 'Daily Mail' prize of £1,000 for the first circular mile flight by an all-British aeroplane. For a month now, building operations have been in progress, and in about a fortnight, a representative of this paper was informed by Messrs A.M.Grose and N.A.Feary, the constructors, it is hoped to put the machine on trial.

A casual visitor to Oakington would have no idea such an important work was being carried out, so quietly are the constructors going about their duties. In fact yesterday when I made the trip to Oakington, I searched every likely spot, where such operations could be in progress, and then in the end had to inquire of an old roadman if he could direct me to Messrs Grose and Feary's works. "Grose!" he said "Feary! They bean't Oakington names that I know on."

"But haven't you heard of any strangers being in the village?" I asked.

"Well!" he replied "I believe as how I did hear on some flying men bein' at work at Muster Cook's farm."

"Now we are getting warm," I thought to myself, and after much beating about the bush I elicited from the old man the information I was requiring, viz., where Mr Cook's farm was situated.

On arriving at the farm in question, I began to doubt whether I was on the right scent after all, for nothing could I see but one mass of stacks, and a number of workmen busily engaged on the farm.

From one of these I learnt that Messrs Grose and Feary were at the 'end of the yard.'

So for some fifty or sixty yards I wandered amongst the stacks, and eventually came upon a large barn. And here it was that I found the gentlemen for whom I had come in search. Surrounded by workmen, they were engaged on a cigar-shaped machine, which they told me they hoped to have finished in about a fortnight.

Busy though they were, both Mr Grose and Mr Feary consented to chat with me for a few minutes, and in that time I obtained some interesting information. Both are well known in the aeronautical world, the former having travelled throughout England, America, and India, in the motor trade, whilst the latter, a native of Oakington, is at present aeronautical instructor to the Regent Street Polytechnic. Mr Grose was the first gentleman to be granted a motor driver's license, and was the first motor engineer to go to India. In a short time they hope to give some lectures in Cambridge, and they are also desirous of commencing an aero club in Cambridge and district.

"Yes!" said Mr Grose, in answer to my query, "It is an all-British monoplane of 20 horse-power, and it is being fitted with a specially designed four-cylinder air-cooled engine, by the Advance Motor Manufactory Company of Northampton. The propellor is by Handley Page, of London, and the rubber cloth is by the North British Rubber Co., while the chassis is being specially constructed by Mr H.V Quinsee of East Road, Cambridge. The machine embodies a patent stabilising apparatus, patented by ourselves. Each rib, weighing about one lb., must take a minimum strain of 56lbs. suspended from the centre, without deflecting. If it does not do that it is useless and we discard it."

"But why have you come down to Oakington to carry out your plans?" I asked.

"Simply for peace and quietness." came the answer. "We are perfectly comfortable, and the country round here is ideal for flying purposes."

"I suppose your machine is being designed to convey passengers?"

"It is designed to carry the pilot and one passenger. There is nothing of the freak about this machine. It follows closely the lines of machines that have already achieved success."

"You find it necessary, of course, to keep the place guarded day and night?"

"Yes! Only about a fortnight ago there was an attempt to break in. Since then we have kept a watchman in the place each night."

"Now besides the 'Daily Mail' prize, do you intend entering for any other competitions?"

"Most certainly we do. On the 18th of October we hope to compete at Blackpool, where as much as £15,000 is being given in prizes."

"When travelling about the country, will you find it necessary to take your monoplane to pieces?"

"Oh no ! Our machine is especially designed for easy transport. The wings can be taken off and packed at the side of the machine in about a quarter of an hour."

I mentioned dimensions, but upon this matter neither gentleman would speak. Their reasons for refusing were obvious, so I did not press this point, and, having wished them every success, I shortly afterwards took my leave.

Oakington Plane