Eddie Homes: RIP

We have received an email from Eddie Holmes’ son Stephen announcing the death of his father on 28th October 2017.  His email is copied below.  Eddie Holmes worked in Compilation and Project Control with Tony Furneaux and the team.  Some photographs are attached below.


Dear Friends,

It is with deep regret that I have to inform you of the the death of my father, Eddie Holmes on the 28th Oct.

Dad had been struggling with Parkinson’s for many years but kept the sharpness of mind and sense of humour until the last. He was 91.

There will be a simple Service of Committal at Beaconsfield Crematorium on the 20th November at 11:00 which we are reserving for close family and friends. However everyone is welcome to a subsequent Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving at 1:00 at the High Street Methodist Church, Maidenhead.

I would be grateful if you could pass on this news to former colleagues at Fairey Surveys.

Thank you

Stephen Holmes


Ken Ullersberger, Roy Macdonald, Eddie Holmes, Roger Laffoley. Taken at the Fairey Surveys reunion at White Waltham, 2004



Ulrich Münzer (foreground), John Marshall (?) (left) and Eddie Holmes (right), probably at Farnborough Air Show

Eddie Holmes and John Tompkins in Compilation

These were taken during a fishing competition on the Thames: both photograhs show Eddie Holmes on the right.

Eddie Holmes is in the bottom left photograph, on the right. Photographs by Ulrich Münzer, 1966







Website maintenance

Apologies to anyone who couldn’t access the FSL website today.

We have had to move the website to a new website hosting company.  The old company was absorbed into a new one, but the users had to move their own data over.  Not something we chose to do!

It all seems to be working now, although it is a bit slow at the moment.  If it is still slow in a couple of days time, or you see any problems or missing bits, please reply to this post (below) or send an email to admin@faireysurveys.co.uk.

Anyone remember the Dragon Rapide?

The Historic Flight Foundation near Seattle, WA, have just acquired G-AHXW, a De Havilland DH.98A Dragon Rapide, that was owned for some years in the 1950s and 1960s by Fairey Aviation and then Fairey Surveys.  They would like to hear about what sort of work it was doing, or any really interesting projects it may have been part of.

The museum has sent a couple of photographs of when the aeroplane arrived there on 31st March 2017, which are shown below.  A trawl through the internet also found a photograph of G-AHXW in Fairey Surveys livery at White Waltham in 1965 on the website Air Photographic International (https://www.airphotographicinternational.com), which has hundreds of great photographs of old aircraft for sale, all identified with type, registration, location and date.  Chris Knott, the owner of the website, has very generously allowed us to publish the photograph here.

If you have any information you would like to share, please reply, below, or send an email to admin@faireysurveys.co.uk, and we’ll pass on your details to the museum, or contact them direct at: imperfectsense@gmail.com


Fairey Surveys aircraft stories

The website has been contacted by Bruce Hales-Dutton, who has been asked by the monthly magazine ‘Aeroplane’ to write an article about Fairey Surveys.  The idea is to write about the aircraft, particularly the DC-3s, and to use the memories and stories of the Fairey Surveys staff who were involved with them, in whatever capacity.

Mr Hales-Dutton is a freelance aviation writer and journalist, whose name appears on at least one published aircraft book, about the Comet.

If you would like to send in a story to be used, or would like to talk to Mr Hales-Dutton, please leave a reply below, or send an email to admin@faireysurveys.co.uk and we’ll pass on your details to him.

There are a few stories already on the website, but there must be many more.  Rob Wallace remembers a search through the huge Enugu market in Nigeria for a special 5 foot long Pratt and Whitney spanner to change the engine on a DC-3.  Astonishingly, the search was successful, and the engine was changed, but the process, with much arm-waving and sign language, was pure entertainment.

Please let us know if you have any stories you would like to share.

Brian Corbin: RIP

John Tompkins has passed on the sad news that Brian Corbin died at Wexham Park hospital on Monday 30th January.  His daughter Kate Solomon was with him, and we also have a request from her.

This is probably the best photograph we have of Brian, at the West London Aero Club in 2012 with Adrian Workman, Graham Bridges and Geoff Milsom.


AW05 West London Aero Club monthly gathering













In their own words: John Tompkins

“This is a general message, so some of you already have heard, but here is
some sad news.Brian died at Wexham Park hospital on Monday Jan 30th his
daughter Kate was with him.
Via Graham Bridges and Geoff Milsom I have some information about the
funeral etc.
The service will be a non religious one to be held at Amersham
Crematorium (In a small private room) at 12.15 on Tuesday Feb 28th. There
will be a burial at Braywick Cemetery, followed by a wake at White Waltham
Flying Club where he and other ‘Faireys’ met monthly.
If you would like to attend the WWFC gathering please let me know in advance
so that I can inform Kate how many to cater for.”

Kate Solomon:

“I know how much the monthly visits to White Waltham meant to my dad and I believe you make many of the social arrangements for the Fairey Group.

Could I trouble you to advise the group of the sad loss of my dad and that the arrangements for his funeral on Tuesday 28th February are as follows:

Celebration Service at 12:15 at the Chilterns Chapel, Whielden Lane, Amersham HP7 OND

Braywick Cemetery, Braywick Road, Maidenhead SL6 1DJ for 2pm.

Back to White Waltham for a buffet etc.

It would be lovely for me to meet some of my Dad’s friends and to hear about his time at Fairey and Clyde Surveys, particularly as this is such a sad time. I know it is difficult but if you could gauge numbers that would be attending that would be great. Waltham have told me they can only cater for 50 and I haven’t a clue how many we should expect.

We have decided on a celebrant to take the service at the Chilterns as dad was not religious.  If at your gathering this weekend you have any amusing stories that we could use, I would be very grateful.”

Please let John Tompkins know if you would like to attend the wake at White Waltham, so they can cater for everyone. If you have a story or anecdote that you would like to share, but can’t attend the funeral or the wake, again please contact John, or post a comment here to share it with everyone.  If you don’t have John’s contact details, email admin@faireysurveys.co.uk and we’ll pass on the information.


Memories of Fairey Surveys Scotland

From John Scarrott

Further to your post celebrating Bill Clark’s 90th birthday, I have recently been sorting through my photo collection and attach a couple of photographs of Fairey Surveys Scotland Ltd (FSSL) staff circa 1974

Bill, Malcolm Eaton and I moved up from Maidenhead to Livingston in 1973 to setup FSSL, I was responsible for the Drawing Office

I recall that whilst waiting for our new office to be fitted out we were working from Bill’s flat in Livingston and had a contract with Bartholomew & Sons in Edinburgh to update elements of the Times World Atlas – Bill having convinced them that we were a competent and fully functioning company and could handle the project locally – as opposed to sending the work down to Maidenhead

That all went slightly awry when John Bartholomew himself paid a visit to check on progress and found me scribing on a make shift light table in Bill’s kitchen!

None the less we went on to have a very successful relationship with Bartholomew’s working on several other projects and also putting business their way when we employed them to print 50,000 copies of a contract we had won to produce the Glasgow Passenger Transport System map circa 1974 – that one was produced in a competent and fully functioning company!

Faireys Surveys Scotland Ltd – Staff circa 1974
L-R Bill Clark, Isobel (Secretary), John Scarrott, Malcolm Eaton, Neil, Dave, Linda and Isabel (our four trainee draughtsmen), Graham Longley

FSSL Drawing Office 1975

Milestone celebration for Geoff Milsom

A little ceremony was held at White Waltham on Saturday 14th January 2017, to celebrate Geoffrey Milsom’s 70 years as a member of the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators, (GAPAN).

A cake was supplied by Don Green and Bob Berriss, others in attendance were
Don Green, Bob Berriss, John and Carol Tompkins, Laurence Scott, Jean and
Ken Fostekew, two members of the Aero Club and Geoffrey of course.

Geoff Milsom cutting the cake, with l-r: Lawrence Scott, Jean Fostekew and Carol Tompkins








With thanks to Ken Fostekew for the information and the photographs – click on the photographs to enlarge.

Railway track survey with Bill Cheffins

Ken Fostekew has found this photograph of what is presumably a rail track surveying platform using Eagle IX cameras.

Bill Cheffins is on the left of the photograph, but there is no information about the other people in the photograph, or of the survey job, location or date.  Can anyone fill in the details?

KF Bill Cheffins railway track



Click on the photograph to enlarge the image.

Happy Birthday Bix

Bill Clark in 1972

Bill Clark in 1972

Bill (Bix) Clark, who opened the Fairey Surveys Livingston office back in the 1970s, will be turning 90 on 5th March.

Bill Clark joined Fairey Surveys in 1947 following 6 years in Royal Engineers Surveys, then left after 10 years to work in the US, where he worked in photogrammetry.  He returned to the UK in 1960, and rejoined Fairey Surveys in the Photogrammetric Section.  He became Photogrammetric Section Supervisor in 1964 and transferred to UK Marketing as Assistant Manager in 1969, reporting to Marketing Manager Peter Forsey.

The opening of the office in Livingston followed the FSL contract to provide mapping for the planning of the new town at Stonehouse, south east of Glasgow.  Bill Clark became Managing Director of Fairey Surveys Scotland, and opened the office in November 1973.  It had a small map production unit equipped with a Zeiss Stereometrograph and cartographic facilities.

We understand that Bill played the trumpet, and that his nickname came from the jazz musician Leon BismarkBixBeiderbecke, who played the cornet and piano in the 1920s.

Jimmy Cheffins – photos

Jimmy Cheffins’ daughter Helen Blackshaw and her sister attended the 2015 reunion at White Waltham Cricket Club, and have sent through some photographs of Jimmy’s time at Fairey Surveys.  It was obviously a Cheffins reunion as well, as Bill Cheffins’ daughter Patricia was also there, and the photographs she brought are on an earlier post!

Helen has sent five photographs, a couple of Jimmy in the office, and three out in the field.  The three field photographs have no dates or names.  Two are of surveyors, and Helen thinks the one with the cairn was taken in Iran.  The man with a chessboard is a mystery, and may be nothing to do with FSL, but was with the other survey photographs, so may be related.  But a collar and tie, playing chess in a field?

If anyone recognises a face or a place, please let us know!

Click on the photographs to enlarge.


Jimmy Cheffins in the FSL Drawing Office

Jimmy Cheffins and Jack Briggs in the FSL Drawing Office








Surveyor on cairn – Iran?

Surveyor on roof – no name or location information








Man in a field with chessboard