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Captain Franklyn L. Barnard & Cataloguing

Graham and Malcolm checking the material

One of the tasks the Hidden Heritage of Croydon Airport project is doing is getting our archives in better order. Some of the files that have a great deal of historical material, i.e. original material such as letters, log books and photographs, have been repacked into archive boxes. Now intrepid volunteers Graham and Malcolm have started cataloging the material in the boxes for cross references and so each box can have an inventory.

The first file they are doing is the file of Captain Franklyn Leslie Barnard. Barnard’s file contains his logbooks from World War One through to his last flights in 1927 as well as letters, many photographs and even some cuff links.

Barnard was born in 1896 and joined the Royal Flying Corps in June 1916 but was struck down

after only a few months in the air, attempting to save a fellow airman. He returned to active service in 1918. After the war Barnard became chief pilot for Instone Air Line and then for Imperial Airways from 1924, for whom he piloted many pioneering passenger routes, such as to Cairo (1924) and further afield to Delhi (1927). His file is full of photographs, such as the one to the right, showing people he had flown or was about to fly to exotic places, often signed. This one is unusual in depicting a famous sight rather than an airport or aerodrome. 

Barnard is perhaps most well known for winning the first Kings Cup Race on 8 September 1922. The Kings Cup Race was a race from Croydon airport to Glasgow, a night’s stop and then back again the next day. It was began by King George V to encourage aircraft design and engineering. Barnard won it again in 1924 but there’ll be more on the Kings Cup Race in another blog.

In cataloguing Barnard’s file we have found menus, lots of postcards and invitations which ave given an insight into the life of a distinguished pilot in the 1920s. One permit gives Barnard permission from the Swiss government to carry a firearm while flying gold bullion through the country’s airspace. Clearly a pilot had to act as security as well in such missions.

Barnard died in a flying accident in July 1927, while testing an aircraft for another go at the Kings Cup Race. It was a tragic loss to civil aviation and the number of condolences to his widow in the file illustrate how deeply he was mourned by pilots and people connected to aviation across the world.

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