History of Furley Cottages and Goodmans house. Nestled in 8 acres in the Black Down Hills of East Devon, the five cottages are named after pioneering aircraft built by the company we know as BAE Systems today.
In 1919 the estate was purchased by the White family, whose principal was Sir G. Stanley White 2nd Bt.
(George) Stanley White was the only son of the Bristol entrepreneur and philanthropist, Sir George White 1st Bt. (1854-1916). Who, during a visit to France in 1909, met several of the aviators of the day, including Wilbur Wright. With White’s experience of the transport business, he could see the potential of an aeroplane factory in his home city. In February 1910 he, his brother and his son, Sir G. Stanley White, formed the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company, and set up a production line in two bus sheds in Filton. This was at a time when aviation was in its infancy, and the only other aeroplane factories in Britain were run by aviators, not businessmen. The two British aeroplane factories before British & Colonial were the Short Brothers and Handley Page.
Within a few months, the factory was building the Bristol biplane, later nicknamed the Boxkite, and by the end of the year Boxkites were being sent on sales missions to Australia and India.
As a young man Stanley White had exhibited a passion for speed and adventure. When his father set out to pioneer an aircraft industry in Great Britain in 1908, Stanley White was intimately involved. He became a founding director of the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company in 1910. Although his father forbade him to take up flying himself, he was determinedly “hands on” both in the air and on the ground. He frequently flew with the pioneering French pilots they employed, especially Jullerot, Tétard and Tabuteau. The flying schools which he set up with his father at Larkhill and at Brooklands ultimately provided two thirds of the pilots available at the outbreak of war in 1914.
In 1911 Stanley White was appointed Managing Director of the British and Colonial – later to become the Bristol Aeroplane Company – a post he held for over forty years. He had the heavy responsibility of directing the company through two world wars, building the workforce from a few hundred employees to over seventy thousand. His greatest skill was undoubtedly in providing the circumstances in which his great engineers and designers could flourish. Given that he was brought up as a businessman, Sir Stanley regularly surprised his employees by his knowledge of technical engineering.
Given that the production of all Bristol aircraft and engines built over nearly fifty years was ultimately his responsibility, one might ask why Sir Stanley White is not more famous. The answer is simply that he was a modest man, who unlike his aeronautical contemporaries, shunned publicity of all kinds.
We are therefore proud to name our cottages, Boxkite, Britannia, Brabazon, Brigand and Beaufort. A booklet and pictures can be found in each cottage, if you wish to know more about where British aviation began. We ourselves, not being connected to aviation, are learning more and more each day. If you have anything to contribute to this story, we will be most interested to hear about it. To find out more about the grounds, please click here