Local pioneer and entrepreneur George Holt Thomas (1870-1929) is the subject of a new book by Dave Scott and Ian Simmons – and will also be the subject of a talk by Dave Scott to the Society at 7.30 p.m. on Friday 12th October at the Riverside.
Reviewing the book in the Summer Edition of the High Wycombe Society newsletter, Chris Woodman commented “They’ve done it again!”, reminding readers of Dave and Ian’s first book, a ground-breaking exploration of “High Wycombe’s Contribution to Aviation”, brought out in 2008, which would be a hard act to follow. The new book centres on a man whose name is now almost forgotten but who was arguably the father of the British aircraft manufacturing industry.
The company which he founded reached its heyday during the First World War. In 1917, The Airplane magazine said, “No one has done more to develop aviation from every practical point of view than Mr. G. H. Thomas, the founder of the Aircraft Manufacturing Company”. In that year, Holt Thomas had built the huge building in High Wycombe which we came to know as the Broom-Wade factory, but the war was over before it could be used for its intended purpose.
Teaming up with the young Geoffrey de Havilland, his company manufactured early members of the famous series of “DH” designs. But it was not all plain sailing. Eventually he declined a knighthood and withdrew completely, a sadly embittered man, devoting his final years to breeding Friesian cattle at North Dean, north of our town. To this day, the village hall is in Holt Thomas’ “friesian” black and white colour scheme!
There are many fascinating aspects to this book. From the records of the early days of British aviation (with their sad accident rate which Holt Thomas did so much to counter) to the politicking after WWI (when Winston Churchill said it was not the job of Government to shore up airlines). It’s all meticulously researched with pictures which evoke the glorious characteristics of the times.
David Scott and Ian Simmons ISBN 978-0-9558241-2-8, A4, 90pp.
Copies of the book will be available for purchase from the authors at the High Wycombe Society meeting on Friday 12th October. All profits from the book sales go to Thames Valley Air Ambulance.