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Cromarty Image Library

Short Brothers Cromarty Flying Boat
The Cromarty Archive
Short Brothers Cromarty Flying Boat

The Short Sunderland Flying Boat was a common sight in the Firth in WW2, but not many people are aware that the Short Brothers built a Cromarty Flying Boat. The aircraft was first designed in 1918, but not flown until 1921. However it was not succesful, and only one was built. This photo is of the aircraft at the Short Brothers works in Rochester.

For more info see British Aircraft
Picture added on 18 April 2004 at 20:16
I wish my father Alan could have seen this picture. Before retiring in 1982 he worked for a company called Blaw Knox in Rochester. They made road pavers and similar equipment and were based at the Short Brothers site where this was taken. The apprentices from Blaw Knox and the other engineering companies along the Medway used to hold an annual raft race (which was a great event with lots of interesting raft designs and strange costumes), and the rafts were launched off the old Shorts slipway, which by then was part of the Blaw Knox car park..
Added by Estelle Quick on 18 April 2004
Putnam Books (now disolved into Conway publishers) ''Shorts Aircraft since 1900'' by C.H. Barnes, page 158, a 3-view line drawing can be seen. The aircraft's short life was spent test flying on the English south coast. A mishap at St. Mary's, Scilly Isles put paid to this design in August 1922.
Added by Clem Watson on 20 April 2004
I was an apprentice at Blaw Know from 1961 and helped to organise and take part in the very first raft race. The Blaw Knox raft had a proper mast and sail (provided by Bill Waldal machine shop foreman). Trial 'rafting' was a great success and the wind really moved our raft very fast. However on race day there was very little wind and with only six rowers we came in last, but we all had a great time.

I have many memories and some photos of my time at Blaw Knox, in fact I met my wife there (apprentice meets office girl) and we have now been married for 40 years
Added by Jim Scott on 22 October 2007
Interesting, the comments re Blaw Knox. I was a Shorts apprentice @ Seaplane works 1945-47 & worked on the last of the Sunderlands/Seafords/Solents + conversion kits for Belfast to make the early Sandringhams. Rochester was closing & all moved to Belfast so apprentices were transferring to other firms in the area or to firms taking over the site. B/K were to have 18 shop - the furthest one from the main entrance (I suspect built on the open area behind the Cromarty in photo). One of my friends went to B/W, others to Wingate in Strood. I, who'd always been aircraft orientated, joined the RAF as an apprentice @ Halton.
Added by David Smith on 11 April 2008
Can this be true or am I havering? I vaguely remember seeing what seemed to me to be an aircraft being towed in the firth and my mother mentioning the "Sunderland" This would be about 52-3 is this feasible anyone??
Added by Mary MacKay now Tomlinson Harrison on 11 April 2008
Mary. You don't say which firth but RAF Sunderlands operated all round the UK for many years after 52-53. I have a friend(ex Halton app.) who was an Engineer on the last one so will e- mail him.
Added by David Smith on 11 April 2008
Of course what an idiot I am! I forgot to mention that I meant the Cromarty Firth I grew up in Jemimaville and loved seeing all the Fleet at Invergordon sorry for confusion thanks David
Added by Mary MacKay now Tomlinson Harrison on 13 April 2008
Mary, Sorry, I haven't had a reply from my colleague who was on Sunderlands - assume he was not based in Scotland. The Cromarty Firth (or the Bay) is very well protected from the elements, so I think it would have been an ideal base - maybe there's a web site for Coastal Command? WHEN I have time...!!!
Added by David John Smith on 01 May 2008
I worked at Blaw Knox during the winter of 70-71, driving a lorry for Tommy Skinner. I was up from Australia and eventually went back to Sweden, to work at Lindholmens Shipyard, to find many of the top people there were vaguely related to Shorts! Does anybody remember the name of the managing director of Blaw Knox and his family? The wife was a Short, but he a cousin.
Added by Sverre Helgesen on 23 January 2009
My Dad was an apprentice at Shorts in Rochester and then went out to Belfast for a time. He never spoke much about the war, I know he had to repair aircraft when then returned badly damaged, but he had a real fondess for the Sunderland and would have loved to have seen this picture.
Added by Valerie Sedge-Jones (nee Sedge) on 11 November 2009
Valerie, Obviously your Dad was a bit older than me if he repaired Sunderlands during the war.I started there just before war end as a 15 yr.old. One of the staff @ Rochester museum has a father & uncle who were Shorts apps. The uncle I knew well for we were same Entry. RAF aircrew on Sunderlands were always refered to as "the boat people".
Added by David Smith on 19 November 2009
I am sorry to have to inform you, but the photo is NOT of a Shorts Cromarty, but instead it is a Vickers Valentia serial number N126.
Added by Bill Lines on 21 October 2011
I think you are right Bill. Altho' similar size, engines, etc., fins on Short have curved leading edge, Vickers triangular. I have got photo' of Short with number N120. Incidently, that doesn't look like Shorts' slipway.
Added by David Smith on 01 September 2014
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