John Moore-Brabazon, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara

Lieutenant-Colonel John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara, GBE, MC, PC, HonFRPS (8 February 1884 – 17 May 1964) was an English aviation pioneer and Conservative politician. He was the first Englishman to pilot a heavier-than-air machine under power in England, and he served as Minister of Transport and Minister of Aircraft Production during World War II.

The Lord Brabazon of Tara

Lord Brabazon.jpg
Minister of Aircraft Production
In office
1 May 1941 – 22 February 1942
MonarchGeorge VI
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded byThe Lord Beaverbrook
Succeeded byJohn Llewellin
Minister of Transport
In office
3 October 1940 – 1 May 1941
MonarchGeorge VI
Prime MinisterWinston Churchill
Preceded byJohn Reith
Succeeded byThe Lord Leathers
Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport
In office
11 November 1924 – 14 January 1927
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterStanley Baldwin
Preceded byHimself
Succeeded byThe 2nd Earl Russell
In office
8 October 1923 – 22 January 1924
MonarchGeorge V
Prime MinisterStanley Baldwin
Preceded byWilfrid Ashley
Succeeded byno appointment until November 1924
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
27 April 1942 – 17 May 1964
Hereditary Peerage
Preceded byPeerage created
Succeeded byThe 2nd Lord Brabazon of Tara
Member of Parliament
for Wallasey
In office
27 October 1931 – 27 April 1942
Preceded byRobert Burton-Chadwick
Succeeded byGeorge Reakes
Member of Parliament
for Chatham
In office
14 December 1918 – 30 May 1929
Preceded byGerald Hohler
Succeeded byFrank Markham
Personal details
John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon

(1884-02-08)8 February 1884
London, England
Died17 May 1964(1964-05-17) (aged 80)
Longcross, Surrey, England
Political partyConservative
AwardsMilitary Cross
Mentioned in dispatches (2)
Knight of the Legion of Honour
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/service British Army
 Royal Air Force
Years of service1914–1919
Battles/warsFirst World War

Early lifeEdit

Moore-Brabazon was born in London to Lieutenant-Colonel John Arthur Henry Moore-Brabazon (1828–1908) and his wife, Emma Sophia (d. 1937). He was educated at Harrow School before reading engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge, but did not graduate. He spent university holidays working for Charles Rolls as an unpaid mechanic, and became an apprentice at Darracq in Paris after leaving Cambridge. In 1907 he won the Circuit des Ardennes in a Minerva.

Pioneer aviatorEdit

Moore-Brabazon first flew solo in November 1908 in France in a Voisin biplane. He became the first resident Englishman to make an officially recognized aeroplane flight in England on 2 May 1909, at Shellbeach on the Isle of Sheppey with flights of 450 ft, 600 ft, and 1500 ft. On 4 May 1909, Moore-Brabazon was photographed outside the Royal Aero Club clubhouse Mussel Manor (now Muswell Manor Holiday Park) alongside the Wright Brothers, the Short Brothers, Charles Rolls, and many other early aviation pioneers. In 1909 he sold the Bird of Passage to Arthur Edward George, who learned to fly in it at the Royal Aero Club's flying-ground at Shellbeach and bought a Short Brothers-built Wright biplane. A documentary, A Dream of Flight, was made in 2009 to celebrate the centenary of his achievement on the Isle of Sheppey.[1]

On 30 October 1909, flying the Short Biplane No. 2, he flew a circular mile and won a 1,000 pound prize offered by the Daily Mail newspaper. On 4 November 1909, as a joke to prove that pigs could fly,[2] he put a small pig in a waste-paper basket tied to a wing-strut of his aeroplane. This may have been the first live cargo flight by aeroplane. With Charles Rolls, he would later make the first ascent in a spherical gas balloon, which had been made in England by the Short brothers.[citation needed]

On 8 March 1910, Moore-Brabazon became the first person to qualify as a pilot in the United Kingdom and was awarded Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate number 1;[3] his car also bore the number-plate FLY 1. However, only four months later, his friend Charles Rolls was killed in a flying accident and Moore-Brabazon's wife persuaded him to give up flying.

First World WarEdit

With the outbreak of war, Moore-Brabazon returned to flying, joining the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). He received a special-reserve commission as a second lieutenant (on probation) in the RFC on 2 December 1914, in the appointment of flying officer (assistant equipment officer), and was confirmed in his rank on 11 February 1915.[4][5][6] He was promoted to lieutenant on 19 February 1915 and was appointed an equipment officer on 31 March, with the temporary rank of captain.[7][8] On 1 September 1915, he was promoted to the substantive rank of captain, with a special temporary promotion to major on 18 May 1916.[9][10]

He served on the Western Front, where he played a key role in the development of aerial photography and reconnaissance. On 1 April 1918, when the Royal Flying Corps merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to form the Royal Air Force, Moore-Brabazon was appointed as a staff officer (first class) and made a temporary lieutenant-colonel.[11] He was promoted to the substantive rank of lieutenant-colonel in the RAF on 1 January 1919 in recognition of his wartime services, relinquishing his commission that year.[12]

Moore-Brabazon finished the war with the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He was decorated with the Military Cross (MC) on 1 January 1917[13] and was also twice mentioned in dispatches, on 15 October 1915[14] and on 13 November 1916.[15] He was further decorated as a Knight of the Légion d'honneur in February 1916.[16]

Pioneer yachtsmanEdit

In 1934 Moore-Brabazon fitted a gyro-rig to a Bembridge Redwing, an Isle of Wight class of yacht that allows and encourages the development of different rigs. The area of the rotating blades complies with the sail area limits of the class and are painted red, also to comply with the class rules.[17] The boat was, and remains, dangerous, but it was probably the first auto-gyro boat.[18] The boat is currently in the collection of the Classic Boat Museum at East Cowes, Isle of Wight, and still 'sails'.

Conservative MPEdit

Moore-Brabazon later became a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Chatham (1918–1929) and Wallasey (1931–1942) and served as a junior minister in the 1920s. In 1931 and 1932 he served as a member of the London County Council. He was strongly opposed to war with Nazi Germany and in early 1939, when war seemed imminent, he made contact with Oswald Mosley in an attempt to co-ordinate activity against the war.[19]

Despite his earlier anti-war agitation, in Winston Churchill's wartime government, he was appointed Minister of Transport in October 1940 and joined the Privy Council, becoming Minister of Aircraft Production in May 1941. As the Minister of Transport he proposed the use of Airgraphs to reduce the weight and bulk of mails travelling between troops fighting in the Middle East and their families in the UK. He was forced to resign in 1942 for expressing the hope that Germany and the Soviet Union, then engaged in the Battle of Stalingrad, would destroy each other. Since the Soviet Union was fighting the war on the same side as Britain, the hope that it should be destroyed, though common in the Conservative Party, was unacceptable to the war effort.[2]

Later lifeEdit

Moore-Brabazon was elevated to the House of Lords as Baron Brabazon of Tara, of Sandwich in the County of Kent, in April 1942.[20] In 1943 he chaired the Brabazon Committee which planned to develop the post-war British aircraft industry. He was involved in the production of the Bristol Brabazon, a giant airliner that first flew on 4 September 1949. It was then and still is the largest aeroplane built entirely in Britain.

In 1949, when the House of Lords Yacht Club was established, Brabazon was its first Commodore.[21]

A keen golfer, Moore-Brabazon was captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the governing body of golf, from 1952 to 1953.[citation needed]

In 1955, then 71 years old, he won the Cresta Run Coronation Cup at an average speed of 71 km/h (44 mph).[22]

Moore-Brabazon was president of the Royal Aero Club, receiving its Gold Medal in 1958, president of the Royal Institution, chairman of the Air Registration Board, and president of the Middlesex County Automobile Club from 1946 until his death in 1964. He was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in 1953.[23]

On 27 November 1906, he married Hilda Mary Krabbé, with whom he had two sons. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Derek.

Moore-Brabazon is buried in Stoke Poges Memorial Gardens, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire.[24]


  1. ^ A Dream of Flight
  2. ^ a b Arnold-Baker, Charles (1996, 2001): The Companion to British History. Routledge, London. ISBN 0-415-18583-1.
  3. ^ Flight 12 March 1910
  4. ^ "No. 28998". The London Gazette (Supplement). 4 December 1914. p. 10416.
  5. ^ "No. 29048". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 January 1915. p. 782.
  6. ^ "No. 29044". The London Gazette. 19 January 1915. p. 610.
  7. ^ "No. 29103". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 March 1915. p. 2712.
  8. ^ "No. 29134". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 April 1915. p. 3806.
  9. ^ "No. 29322". The London Gazette (Supplement). 8 October 1915. p. 10011.
  10. ^ "No. 29585". The London Gazette (Supplement). 16 May 1916. p. 4943.
  11. ^ "No. 30607". The London Gazette. 2 April 1918. p. 4030.
  12. ^ "No. 31098". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1918. p. 95.
  13. ^ "No. 29944". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 February 1917. p. 1596.
  14. ^ "No. 29422". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1915. p. 12.
  15. ^ "No. 29890". The London Gazette (Supplement). 2 January 1917. p. 205.
  16. ^ "No. 29486". The London Gazette (Supplement). 22 February 1916. p. 2067.
  17. ^ "Classic Boat Museum". Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  18. ^ "Autogiro Boats - History 1870-1933". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 14 April 2012.
  19. ^ Martin Pugh, Hurrah for the Blackshirts! Fascists and Fascism in Britain Between the Wars, Pimlico, 2006, p. 279
  20. ^ "No. 35541". The London Gazette. 28 April 1942. p. 1859.
  21. ^ Shipbuilding and Shipping Record, vol. 73 (1949), p. 38
  22. ^ Lord Brabazon with the skeleton
  23. ^ "No. 39732". The London Gazette (Supplement). 30 December 1952. p. 10.
  24. ^ The Aeronautical Journal

External linksEdit

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Gerald Hohler
Member of Parliament for Chatham
Succeeded by
Frank Markham
Preceded by
Robert Chadwick
Member of Parliament for Wallasey
Succeeded by
George Reakes
Political offices
Preceded by
John Reith
Minister of Transport
Succeeded by
Frederick Leathers
as Minister of War Transport
Preceded by
The Lord Beaverbrook
Minister of Aircraft Production
Succeeded by
John Llewellin
Peerage of the United Kingdom
New creation Baron Brabazon of Tara
Succeeded by
Derek Moore-Brabazon