Hamble

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By 1915, Avro was running out of factory space at Newton Heath thanks to the success of the Avro 504. Alliott Verdon Roe began to plan a custom-built facility in Hampshire and settled on a piece of land on the edge of Southampton Water at Hamble. Avro purchased 100 acres of land which included an expanse of foreshore and work on the new factory began soon afterwards.

Alliott Verdon Roe envisioned that the entire company would eventually move to Hamble and planned the construction of 350 houses for his workforce. However, only 24 houses were completed before government restrictions on building materials prevented any further development. It was therefore decreed that the new facility at Hamble would be used as a design and development centre.

The first new Avro aircraft to be assembled at Hamble was the Avro 523 Pike, a twin-engined bomber. In September 1916, the whole of the Avro design team under Roy Chadwick moved from Manchester to Hamble. The number of aircraft built steadily increased and a number of Avro 504Ks were produced in addition to experimental types. Avro was not the only aircraft manufacturer at Hamble, the airfield and slipway was shared with the Fairey company.

The cancellation of orders at the end of the First World War forced aircraft manufacturers to make massive cutbacks and Avro was no exception. Hamble remained as an experimental facility, testing new aircraft during these lean years which included the Avro 534 Baby. The massive Avro Aldershot single-engined bomber was also developed at Hamble and entered service with the RAF in 1924.

Avro took an interest in autogyros during the mid 1920s and worked with the newly formed Cierva Autogiro Company. The airfield at Hamble was too small for the testing of the larger autogyros and was expanded in 1926 when a further 200 acres were purchased.

The lean years of the 1920s forced Alliott Verdon Roe to abandon his plans to relocate the entire company to Hamble. In 1928, A.V. sold his interest in Avro and joined Sam Saunders to form Saunders-Roe Limited. The Company was based on the Isle of Wight and specialised in the manufacture of flying-boats. Alliott continued to live in Hamble, an area of the country which he dearly loved.

Avro's presence at Hamble was scaled down following Alliott Verdon Roe's departure. Aircraft such as the Avro Antelope were still under construction and these were completed as the workforce gradually moved back to Manchester. The move was completed by the end of 1932 and Avro's presence at Hamble came to an end.

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