Mark’s History: Kirkstall aviation pioneer’s great achievements


I went up to Bramham Estate on the outskirts of Leeds only to find it was closed, writes Mark Stevenson.

I had noticed a big house on the way to it so I went for a walk around its grounds. As I was all but finished a member of staff told me it was private so I made my apologies and left.

robert blackburn 2

As I had been walking around I noticed there was a bit of an aviation theme going on, a bust of Amy Johnson and a building that looked like an airplane wing. When I got home I looked the house up. It was called Bowcliffe Hall and is located at Bramham, near Wetherby, it was built between 1805 and 1825.

Its owner up until the 1950s was Robert Blackburn, the aviation industry’s version of Benjamin Gott – pioneering the industry and building planes for the armed forces.

He was the first Yorkshire man to design, build and pilot his own plane. He ran an airport from Roundhay Park with regular flights between Leeds and Bradford. He also had the good fortune to be born in Kirkstall in 1885.


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