Aircraft pioneer honoured in Airbus HQ opening

Gazette Series: (2879729) (2879729)

NEW UK engineering headquarters for Airbus have been officially opened in Filton in memory of aircraft designer Captain Frank Barnwell.

The building has been called Barnwell House to honour the Bristol Aeroplane Company pioneer, who lived in Alveston and was renowned for aircraft such as the Bristol Scout, the Bristol Fighter, Bristol Bulldog and the Blenheim Bomber.

He was regarded as one of the UK's greatest aeronautical engineers but was tragically killed in a flying accident.

Barnwell House is part of the multi-million pound Airbus Aerospace Park development , a major investment at Filton, where some 4,000 employees are based.

It was opened by Fabrice Bregier, the president and chief executive officer of Airbus, who was joined by Martin Donnelly, Permanent Secretary for the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.

Mr Bregier said: “The importance of the Filton site to Airbus and to aerospace in general cannot be overstated. The expertise and skills here are world class and play a pivotal role in developing new technologies for the future of aviation.

“Airbus Aerospace Park represents a major investment by the company. Filton has always been a site of great historical interest for aviators, but today marks the start of a new and exciting chapter which I know will be just as historic.”

Mark Stewart, general manager and human resources director for Airbus in the UK, said: “Our investment in these state-of-the-art facilities underlines our commitment to the future of the Filton site and will help sustain jobs directly as well as in the extended supply chain."

He said Filton was recognised as a global centre for engineering and design, which was why Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced the creation of the Aerospace Technology Institute during a visit to the site earlier this year.

About 2,400 staff - mostly engineers working on wing design and associated systems - will be based in Barnwell House.

The opening of the building comes after the refurbishment of historic Pegasus House, which was recently opened by the Duke of Gloucester and Tom Williams, the Airbus Executive Vice President of programmes.

Captain Barnwell was born in Scotland in 1880 and with his brother, Harold, became famous for building and flying the first powered aeroplane in Scotland in 1909.

Two years later he accepted a position from Sir George White, founder of the Bristol Aeroplane Company, to work at Filton and went on to become one of Britain's most celebrated aeronautical engineers and designers.

After the First World War he took his family to Australia but a couple of years later returned to Filton as chief designer and set up home in what is now the Alveston House Hotel.

He died in 1938 while flying a plane he had designed for his own use and is buried in Alveston's churchyard. He left his widow, Marjorie, and their three sons but in another tragedy, all the sons died while serving as RAF pilots in the Second World War.

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