One of the photographs of historic aircraft
One of the photographs of historic aircraft

Unseen photos of one of Britain’s earliest aviation meetings have been discovered by a Lichfield auctioneer.

The Edwardian album contains 96 original photographs, 28 from the 1910 International Aviation Meeting at Bournemouth.

They came to light following a house clearance in Staffordshire and will be sold by Richard Winterton Auctioneers on 6th November.

The meeting saw 19 pilots take part as part of celebrations for Bournemouth’s centennial as a town.

But on the second day the co-founder of Rolls-Royce, Charles S Rolls, became Britain’s first powered aviation fatality when his Wright biplane broke up during a sharp manoeuvre and the pioneering pilot plunged to his death.

Sixteen of the 28 original photographs coming to auction show early planes in the air, with one captioned ‘Rolls plane 1910 fatal flight’.

Images on the ground include the Farman craft of Launcelot Gibbs and the monoplane of British pilot Alan Boyle, plus the hangars of Gibbs, Boyle and fellow aviators George Barnes, Alec Ogilvie and Léon Morane.

Robert French, valuer at Richard Winterton Auctioneers, said:

“When you look at the flimsy nature of many of these flying machines, it’s amazing to think of the courage and faith demonstrated by the pilots.

“By 1910, flying had captured the hearts of many people in England as a wonder of the modern day and the Bournemouth aviation meeting must have been an incredible spectacle.

“Photography was still in its relative infancy, with ownership of a camera and taking pictures far from routine for most people.

“It’s also believed that officials confiscated cameras following Charles Rolls’ crash.

“With remarkably clear images of aircraft up in the sky and of crowds watching down on the ground, these historical photographs are an evocative tribute to those magnificent men in their flying machines.”

Robert French

Also included in the album coming to auction are 68 photographs featuring the crew of the SS Eugenie from 1906, taken at sea and in Constantinople, plus a personal log book from the ship.

The catalogue can be accessed online via a week before the sale.

Founder of Lichfield Live and editor of the site.