Just a note to let you know that today, at long last, a plaque has been ceremonially unveiled at the Rearsby factory site to commemorate thirty years of Auster production at that location from 1938 to 1968. The plaque was unveiled by Ivor Vaughan CBE, Chairman and co-owner of Rearsby Ltd and Gordon Hallam of our International Auster Club Heritage Group.
Our own President and Founder, Jim Sime was in attendance along with about a hundred invited guests, mostly former factory staff. A flypast from Leicester airfield, organised by our Hon. Secretary, Charles Sunter, took place at exactly 15:20 hours when the plaque was unveiled. The two aircraft were flown by Terry Lee and Shawn Whitehead, much to the delight of the assembled crowd on a calm, warm day with clear blue skies. Our Fly-In Coordinator, Rob Cotterhill liaised between Leicester airfield and the site, smoothing the way for the flypast and ensuring the IAC had a presence at Rearsby.
After the event, afternoon tea was served at Queniborough village hall as only Beryl Preston and her team of ladies can.
A transcript of the event will be uploaded to this website, but if you are passing Gaddesby Lane, Rearsby, then do stop and take a look at this wonderful new plaque, so much a part of our Auster heritage.
Thank you to all with a hand in making this event happen and to those who ensured today was a memorable occasion.
Safe flying, Trevor
Monday, April 29, 2013 Leicester Mercury
More than 100 people gathered for the unveiling of a plaque to a Leicestershire-built aircraft which saw service in the Second World War.
The Auster Commemorative Plaque was unveiled at Rearsby Business Park where the aircraft were once built.
honour: Ivor Vaughan and Gordon Hallam unveil the plaque at the business park's gates
The event was inspired by the business park's owner, Ivor Vaughan, who came up with the idea for a plaque to commemorate the aircraft and those who worked on it. Planes were built on the Rearsby site and flown from its grass airfield from 1938 to 68.
Mr Vaughan said: “We are here today so as not to forget the hard work, innovation and engineering expertise of the people who worked here, and to permanently commemorate and record what happened here, because The Auster was one of Leicestershire's best.”
Gordon Hallam, chairman of the International Auster Club Heritage Group, said: “Exactly on time the faint, low hum of Gypsy Major engines were heard getting closer and closer.”
“Every camera in the crowd swung skyward and two Auster aircraft came into view.”
“They didn't roar like jet engines nor did they leave vapour trails, but elegantly moved across the brilliant blue sky over the crowd before turning gracefully for a final flypast.”
Published on 23/04/2013 18:36, Melton Times
More than 100 people gathered at Rearsby Business Park on Saturday (April 20) to commemorate its links with the production of Leicestershire’s most prominent aircraft - The Auster.
The site was the home of Taylorcraft Aeroplanes (England) Ltd, where the famous Auster light aircraft was designed, manufactured and flown for 30 years between 1938 and 1968, serving civilian and military markets.
Ex-Auster employees, members of the International Auster Group and the International Auster Club Heritage Group and other representatives attended the unveiling of a commemorative plaque which was swiftly followed by an emotional flypast by two Auster aircraft.
The moving event was inspired by Rearsby Business Park owner Ivor Vaughan CBE who planted the seeds of the idea eight years ago before being taken up by International Auster Club Heritage Group chairman Gordon Hallam who spent two years planning the day.
Mr Vaughan said: &lduo;We're gathered here so as not to forget the hard work, innovation and engineering expertise of the people who worked here and to permanently commemorate and record what happened here because The Auster was one of Leicestershire’s best.”
After a second flypast by The Austers, people made their way to Queniborough Village Hall for refreshments prepared courtesy of Beryl Preston and her team.
Auster enthusiasts reminisced and shared their memories of the aircraft, bringing a happy end to a memorable day.
During the Second World War The Auster became known as the “eyes of the Army” and proved irreplaceable following D-Day as the observation aircraft that helped British artillery locate German ground targets.
The demands of war required a vast expansion of Taylorcraft and Leicestershire businessman Lance 'A.L' Wykes began overseeing the mass production of the Auster aircraft, which required the requisitioning of 10 satellite factories to produce the components.
A conveyorised production line was set up in a former shoe factory in Syston to produce the fuselages, while the aircraft were assembled at Rearsby Aerodrome, with most of the flight-testing performed by Mr Wykes himself.
During the later stage of the Second World War, Taylorcraft recognised the need for an economical post-war light aeroplane for private use. The company name changed to Auster in March 1946 and, in various guises and configurations, Auster Aircraft Limited of Rearsby designed and produced numerous variants for training, touring, observations, artillery spotting, crop spraying and other uses.
The Auster success story was to continue until 1968 when all Auster design and development ceased, thus bringing an end to the dynasty and reputation that had made Auster and Rearsby synonymous worldwide with light aircraft.
The Melton Times recorded the event and the resulting mp3 file (11.5M) can be downoladed here.
Monday, May 13, 2013 Leicester Mercury
I am pleased to learn that a smart new memorial plaque, pictured, has been dedicated to Leicestershire's unique Auster aircraft, its Taylorcraft manufacturers and the man behind the venture, A L Wykes.
Gordon Hallam, chairman of the International Auster Club Heritage Group (IACHG), tells me Saturday, April 20, was a day you could really only dream about.
“Not only were years of meticulous planning brought to a successful conclusion, but the weather also played its part: in a cloudless sky, the wind remained hidden and the sun shone as if we were in the Sahara,” says Mr Hallam, of Queniborough.
The Auster faithful gathered at Rearsby Business Park to commemorate the aircraft's development and production there, prior, during and after the Second World War.
The event was inspired by owner of Rearsby Business Park, Ivor Vaughan CBE, who planted the idea of a commemorative plaque eight years ago.
More than 100 ex-Auster employees, members of the International Auster Group, the Leicester Museum Service and the IACHG were welcomed to the event by Mr Hallam, who introduced the event's patron, Ivor Vaughan.
Mr Vaughan said: “We are here so as not to forget the hard work, innovation and engineering expertise of those who worked here and to permanently commemorate and record it, because the Auster was one of Leicestershire's best.”
Mr Vaughan also paid tribute to the remarkable A L Wykes, the company's founder, whose vision led to the Auster's ultimate success.
The crowd were then marshalled by members of the Air Training Corps to the front of the business park for the plaque's unveiling.
Under a sky blue cloth and RAF colours, the plaque was revealed by Mr Vaughan to applause, as two Auster aircraft made a flypast.
Afterwards, those present made a short trip to Queniborough village hall for refreshments, courtesy of Beryl Preston and her team, where reminisces were shared over cakes and tea.
In appreciation of his patronage, Mr Hallam presented Mr Vaughan with three leather-bound volumes of Auster information and the ATC were presented with three prints for their hard work on the day.
More pictures of the event can be seen in our picture gallery.