Mr H M Woodhams


Extract from Flight Magazine Article, August 19th, 1960: -


After more than fifty years in the aircraft industry, Mr H M Woodhams, CBE, FRAeS, MIProdE, is retiring on August 31st ad Chairman and Managing Director of Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Ltd, the company he has been with for 37 years.  He has, however, consented to remain a member of the board.

Mr Woodhams, who is 70, was in at the birth of the British Aircraft industry – working with E V Hammond at Brooklands on the Hammond Triplane in 1908, when Cody was busy at Farnborough and A V Roe was experimenting with his earlier machines.  As a boy of 17, Mr Woodhams watched A V Roe’s early struggles to get airborne at Brooklands, while he was making parts for a triplane built by Mr E V Hammond.

During the First World War he was seconded to the original “Airco” company, of which Geoffrey de Havilland (now Sir Geoffrey) was chief designer, as a specialist on Mono-Gnome rotary engines.  After the war, he became the first man in Britain to hold a ground engineer’s licence for aero-engines under the new Air Navigation Directions of 1919.

In the following year, he became chief engineer to Aircraft Transport and Travel Ltd (one of the world’s first airlines), subsequently transferring to another new airline – The Air Post of Banks Ltd – before rejoining de Havilland, who was forming the de Havilland Aircraft Co.  In 1923, Mr Woodhams flew with Alan (now Sir Alan) Cobham as engineer on his 12,000 mile charter flight round the Mediterranean.  His toolkit consisted of a spare set of valves and valve springs, a pair of pliers, grinding paste, copper wire and a tube of Seccotine – and they made it.

It was later in that year that Mr Woodhams joined Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft, which had been formed three years previously, as chief inspector.  By the outbreak of the Second World War, he had become successively works manager and then general manager, and in 1941 he became a director.  He was congratulated by Lord Beaverbrook, then Minister of Aircraft Production, during the war for consistently beating the target for bomber production.  In 1944 he was made a CBE.

Mr Woodhams became managing director of the company in 1950, and in 1956 was chosen as first recipient of the Silver Turnbuckle Award of The Society of Licensed Aircraft Engineers & Technologists, to mark the success of his career and his service to the aircraft industry I in which he celebrated fifty years’ active association in 1958.