Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Photo TimeLine

1931 - 1940 page 2

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Lonely Road Published.

Early March 1932

Airspeed Ferry Click for larger image

In early March 1932 the first Airspeed Ferry is test-flown by Harry Worrall at Sherburn-in Elmet aerodrome. This Ferry is flying over Portsmouth Aerodrome.

( DHM / DH )

May 31 1932

Heather Felicity Norway, daughter of Nevil and Frances, is born.

June 25 1932

Shute's mother, Mary Louisa Norway (born 1860 or 1861) dies aged 71.

July 1932

Negotiations proceed for Airspeed's move to Portsmouth.

In the winter of 1932-33 Airspeed built this aircraft to the design of WS Shackleton and Lee Murray. It was a high wing parasol monoplane 2 seater with a pusher engine. Only one was built, designed for the private flyer market that was disappearing in the recession. It was registered as G-ACBP and is listed as being owned by AA Bathurst (Lord Apsley) & Miss D Miles-Yate and broken up in 1937. Shute describes it as being underpowered and slow but delightful to fly.

March 1933

Airspeed moves to Portsmouth after two years in York.

Portsmouth Aerodrome Click for larger image

This aerial shot of Portsmouth Aerodrome during a 1933 air display was originally captioned as showing the new Airspeed factory but I believe the camera is directly above the Airspeed factory and looking at Portsmouth aerodrome buildings. RM.

(Photo: FM / DHM / DH )

11th April 1933

The new AS5 Courier has its first flight.
Prototype Courier G-ABXN Click for larger image

The prototype Courier G-ABXN in flight. Cruising at 145mph (233kph) and with a top speed 166mph (266kph), the Courier carried 1 pilot and 5 passengers. The wheels still protrude in their retracted position and are still somewhat effective should the pilot forget and land without deploying them. Such a landing usually resulted in a bent propeller but an otherwise undamaged aeroplane.

(Photo: FM / DHM )
Sir Alan Cobham's aerial refuelling Click for larger image

In Slide Rule Shute writes about Sir Alan Cobham's aerial refuelling research: "I shall always remember standing up half out of the Courier trying to catch this thing (the refueling line) as we flew in formation below the Handley Page..." This figure is either Nevil Shute or Squadron Leader W. Helmore.

( SR / DT )


Henry Cutting, an office boy at Airspeed, recalls in 2003 that a man working on Cobhams refuelling experiments was in a fight outside Mother Shiptons Pub. The other man in the fight died. Cobhams partner was allowed free before his trial but died when his Airspeed Courier, G-ABXN, crashed in Portsmouth Harbour on April 15 1933. In late 1945 Shute used the plot point of a fatal pub fight in The Chequer Board.

Henry Cutting Click for larger image

In 1933 Henry Cutting, aged 14, worked as Shute's office boy at Airspeed. Henry admired Shute tremendously describing him as "a gentleman of the first degree" and "a nice man, just like my father". Henry is inside his 500-year-old house at Langstone Harbour opposite Shute's early wartime home, Langstone Towers, and near Flora Tworts home, Langstone Mill.

(Photo: RM 2003)

1933 - 1938

In 2003 Henry Cutting recalled that in the Airspeed factory a fuel tank was mistakenly tested with petrol instead of paraffin resulting in a large explosion and fire. Airspeed worker Andie Drummond died and co-worker George Lister was injured. Shute appeared, coolly stepping through the now burning sacking that was used as a saw-dust barrier, and quickly took charge of the scene.

A cutting from the Daily Mirror of 21 May 1935 reports this event:-

Click here to see the detailed text


The Shute Family move to Craneswater Park in Southsea which may have been rental accomodation. Frances sets up in a medical practice in Southsea.

Nevil and his daughter Heather

Nevil and his daughter Heather in 1933. Presumably this is at the back of the 44 Craneswater Park accomodation.

( HMC ) 44 Craneswater Park Click for larger image

These new buildings at 44 Craneswater Park cover the site of Nevil and Frances rental accomodation at Southsea when they first moved there in 1933. (Photo: RM 2003)

May 1933

"The Airship Venture" article is published in Blackwoods Magazine. It covers R100 and R101. Shute later re-uses it to form a large portion of Slide Rule.

Shute, Hessell Tiltman and Lord Grimthorpe

Shute, the dapper Hessell Tiltman and Lord Grimthorpe with an Airspeed Courier.

(Photo: FM / SR )
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