Author Topic: Reginald Wells seaplanes  (Read 615 times)

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Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #45 on: July 01, 2020, 11:41:45 PM »
I missed out the best character in the Wells Aviation Co. The Italian Submariner reservist who taught British aviators. Started instructing at Hendon before joining Wells at Cobnor Aerodrome.




Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #44 on: July 01, 2020, 05:19:45 PM »
Cosmo, Amazing that you've found out all this, many thanks. Who'd have thought that a potter who had a great interest in aeroplanes, would end up with a factory to manufacture them! Apart from the advert saying they were agents & builders of the Benoist flying boat, there doesn't appear anywhere about them actually doing so for certain. Unless you know otherwise?


There seems to have been an eclectic bunch at Wells Aviation. Besides Wells at the head, there was another notable artist/sculpter as his right hand man. The aircraft designer was a building architect!


They seem to have eventually built one Benoist seaplane, which never got to fly. At the time of going broke they had ordered but not yet built a replacement.

Offline Nemo

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #43 on: July 01, 2020, 08:33:00 AM »
I wonder if that's his two sons sitting in/standing behind the plane in the factory.

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #42 on: June 29, 2020, 01:06:11 PM »
I'd still like to know the story behind the aircraft photo in Mike's article. I'm also interested in aviation and a better resolution image would help so much identifying the people and location.


Where was it taken? It appears to be an important image yet come to a halt with it!

Offline Dave Smith

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #41 on: June 28, 2020, 07:38:48 PM »
Cosmo, Amazing that you've found out all this, many thanks. Who'd have thought that a potter who had a great interest in aeroplanes, would end up with a factory to manufacture them! Apart from the advert saying they were agents & builders of the Benoist flying boat, there doesn't appear anywhere about them actually doing so for certain. Unless you know otherwise?

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #40 on: June 28, 2020, 02:31:10 PM »
Another interesting piece in The Aeroplane, tying things together...


 The Aeroplane
March 29, 1916
MODERN CHELSEA ART.

In a little office hidden away in a corner of old Chelsea there
hangs a beautifully made laurel wreath in bronze, and in the
centre is this inscription : —

IN LOVING MEMORY

OF

THE COLDRUM POTTERY,
PASSED AWAY
AUGUST 1, 1914.

" NOT DEAD— ONLY SLEEPING."

The wreath is the work' of Mr. R. F. Wells, a noted sculptor
and designer of the artistic pottery for which the neighbourhood
has, long been famous, and on that date his interest m the arts of
peace was for the time being relegated to a secondarv place, and
the foundation of a new industry was laid. '

A remarkable transformation has taken place, and some
hundreds of workmen- are now engaged in the production of aero-
planes and seaplanes, while others are constructing additional
workshops which look like being model buildings for their purpose.

Mr. Wells is evidently that rara avis, an artist who is capable
of organising and controlling a large commercial undertaking.
Very few are. On the outbreak of war he fidt a desire to assist
in the production of something of which the country had urgent
need, and possibly the graceful curves of a modern aeroplane ap-
pealed to his artistic sense. He had, as a matter of fact, long
been interested in aviation. Anyhow, in the past year and a half
he has erected upon the site of the old pottery an aircraft works of
considerable importance, with separate premises a short distance
away — curiously enough also associated with art, having formerly
been used for the design and manufacture of special wall-papers.

Large orders for seaplanes and fast scouting machines are being
executed. The R. F. Wells Company are not at present making
wings owing to insufficiency of space, but the many fuselages ob-
served by the writer in the course of a recent visit were of most
excellent workmanship. Practically all the employees had to be
initiated into the special intricacies of the manufacture of aircraft
parts, and the results reflect great credit on iheir instructors.

Mr. Beeby, the energetic manager, who was kind enough to
show a representative of The Aeroplane over the various depart-
ments, has had a long experience in the aircraft industry at Farn-
borough and elsewhere. He was concerned in the building of two
at least of our dirigibles, was attached to the first R.F.C.
squadron, and had valuable experience on military manoeuvres.

The R. F. Wells Company are the sole British agents and
builders under licence of the Benoist fiying boat, and it is interest-
ing to learn that the first of these will be undergoing its trial?
over here in the course of the next few weeks.

A business concern which has been established with such re-
markable speed and conducted with such efficiency deserves success,
and further developments in- Chelsea will be watched with special
interest. Its career is hardly likely to end with the war. — D. W. T.
 

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #39 on: June 17, 2020, 11:29:55 AM »
How did you come by the photo of the biplane in the hangar Mike? And what were you told about it? Where was it taken? It's likely dated post mid-1918. Was Wells still involved in manufacturing aircraft himself then?

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #38 on: June 11, 2020, 04:26:03 PM »
I've been provided with an example of another period aviation designer who started with model aircraft making. Second link shows what these models of the time could do! Five foot wingspan and flights up to 560 yards powered only by rubber bands!

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mann_%26_Grimmer_M.1

http://en.wikibedia.ru/wiki/Cyril_Ridley#Early_life_and_aircraft_building

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #37 on: June 11, 2020, 12:30:36 PM »
Thanks Mike,


To save further distraction in looking for information that you already know. Do you know why and when R.F.Wells went to the USA? That may be an important part of the Benoist seaplane link.


It would also be helpful to expand on Seymour Wakeley and this additional interest in seaplanes he had?

Offline Mike Gunnill

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #36 on: June 11, 2020, 08:47:26 AM »
Hi MikeGunnill, I’ve conducted an earnest search for the background to this story and posted everything that I have found. I’ve left nothing out. I’ve posted that article about Wells’ interest in making flying model aircraft. I’ve also posted those details that show Wells seems to have been a pilot in 1915. I’ve shown you all I found about his Wells “Reo” aircraft and the details of aircraft made at his Chelsea factory. I’ve tried my best to discover anything about the earlier floatplane, but found nothing. I’m sorry that may not have been the outcome you’d have liked, but if you’ve tried these searches yourself, you will already know there’s nowt out there. To the positive, I’ve uncovered much to show that R.F. Wells did build model aircraft for a decade. Did build real wartime aircraft and was a pilot!

I’d figured that Wells had been to the USA as he was applying to be a maker/agent for Benoist, a US flying boat designer, and also an agent for Roberts a US aero engine maker. I’m guessing that the “Reo” name for his aircraft was influenced by the US automobile firm (Reo Speedwagon anyone?) or a nod to that firms manufacturing practices? Do you know when he was in the US and what he was doing there? Would he have seen the Benoist flights?

The reason that I was asking about the three family members, was because they were not direct witnesses to the event, but just re-telling an account told to them by Ted Baker. Therefore it’s possible for that re-telling to be a source of an inaccuracy creeping in. I don’t mean to cast doubt on your witnesses, but there is also credible evidence that the seaplane tale may be due to a very relevant  connection that Seymour Wakeley had nearby.


Wells used the land/wharf owned by Wakeley Brothers as a base. Seymour especially had an interest in seaplanes. Baker telling his daughter about the story is direct connection.


Mike

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #35 on: June 10, 2020, 11:10:28 PM »
Hi MikeGunnill, I’ve conducted an earnest search for the background to this story and posted everything that I have found. I’ve left nothing out. I’ve posted that article about Wells’ interest in making flying model aircraft. I’ve also posted those details that show Wells seems to have been a pilot in 1915. I’ve shown you all I found about his Wells “Reo” aircraft and the details of aircraft made at his Chelsea factory. I’ve tried my best to discover anything about the earlier floatplane, but found nothing. I’m sorry that may not have been the outcome you’d have liked, but if you’ve tried these searches yourself, you will already know there’s nowt out there. To the positive, I’ve uncovered much to show that R.F. Wells did build model aircraft for a decade. Did build real wartime aircraft and was a pilot!

I’d figured that Wells had been to the USA as he was applying to be a maker/agent for Benoist, a US flying boat designer, and also an agent for Roberts a US aero engine maker. I’m guessing that the “Reo” name for his aircraft was influenced by the US automobile firm (Reo Speedwagon anyone?) or a nod to that firms manufacturing practices? Do you know when he was in the US and what he was doing there? Would he have seen the Benoist flights?

The reason that I was asking about the three family members, was because they were not direct witnesses to the event, but just re-telling an account told to them by Ted Baker. Therefore it’s possible for that re-telling to be a source of an inaccuracy creeping in. I don’t mean to cast doubt on your witnesses, but there is also credible evidence that the seaplane tale may be due to a very relevant  connection that Seymour Wakeley had nearby.

Offline Mike Gunnill

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #34 on: June 10, 2020, 08:52:33 AM »
It seems that R F Wells had an interest in building and flying model aircraft before WW1.


I have two questions for Mike Gunnill based out of this gem. Do you know if Wells went to the USA before the war, as he seems to have developed several business interests over there.


Secondly, were the three relations of Baker witnesses to the flight itself, or just recall him telling them about it? I'm forming the opinion that the event happened elsewhere.




He is recorded travelling to the USA.


The story comes from the daughter of potter Baker. Other members of the family say exactly the same, it was a well known family story " asked to fly an aircraft." I don't know why you think it happened elsewhere.  When I write books I make sure 100% the story is true. As I did this time. The daughter's story was checked and then I got two other relations to talk about the same topic. The provided the same story. Baker, went on to be a very well known potter with Upchurch Pottery and Rainham Pottery.  Remember as a lad, he was working on Woodger's Wharf next to Otterham Creek. He was in the middle of aircraft testing. The testing didn't last very long-but he was there, at least four people place him there.


Also I spoke with a man in Rainham, Kent who as a boy remembers seeing an aircraft  being pushed into the creek for a flight. His mother stopped him helping with the other boys.


You are welcome to your opinion of course but I will keep to my facts. Unless you have facts to support your opinion, of course.


Picture shows: Edward J Baker with his son, William outside the Seymour kiln, 1950. Baker senior turned down the change to fly in a Wells seaplane during testing on Otterham Creek, Kent.


Mike

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #33 on: June 10, 2020, 08:31:50 AM »
Finally got to view the text from The Aeroplane dated July 7 1915. The first paragraph shows Wells as pilot of the Reo in a test run at Hendon.....

"Mr. Wells was also out during the morning on the "Reo," and had the misfortune to taxi into a Service machine which happened to be on the ground. The "Reo" being of substantial build, the Service machine came off second best, but no one was hurt."

Later in the same edition is an advert for his firm.

"Aeroplane manufacturers may be interested to know that Messrs. R. F. Wells and Co., the constructors of the original and well-built Reo biplane, are prepared to receive orders for aeroplane parts and to construct complete units such as planes, fuselages, rudders, empenages, elevators, etc.
The firm is competent to do welding, brazing, wire splicing, etc., and aeroplane builders should find it well worth their while to address enquiries to 10a, Elystan Street, Chelsea, S.W."

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #32 on: June 09, 2020, 11:11:10 PM »
Copy provided of Flight magazine dated March 1917.

Offline Cosmo Smallpiece

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Re: Reginald Wells seaplanes
« Reply #31 on: June 08, 2020, 10:45:55 PM »
It seems that R F Wells had an interest in building and flying model aircraft before WW1.


I have two questions for Mike Gunnill based out of this gem. Do you know if Wells went to the USA before the war, as he seems to have developed several business interests over there.


Secondly, were the three relations of Baker witnesses to the flight itself, or just recall him telling them about it? I'm forming the opinion that the event happened elsewhere.