Westlands and the general Strike

Westlands Delivers the news

Westland's answer to newspaper distribution interrupted by the 1926 General Strike


The following is courtesy of Jack Sweet.


In 1925, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) pledged to support the miners in their dispute with the mine owners. Following the owners locking the miners out, the TUC called a General Strike on 3 May 1926, the first and only General Strike in British history, involving workers in the construction, iron and steel, transport and printing industries. The government however was fully prepared and all essential services were maintained, mainly by volunteers. On 13 May, the TUC called off the strike as it had not achieved its purpose. The miners were still locked out and they remained on strike until the following November when economic need forced them back to work.

During the strike, the Western Gazette wrote that - “Westland Aerodrome was something in the nature of an air-port for the distribution of newspapers. Aeroplanes from all parts assembled on the Westland Aerodrome, leaving in the early hours of the morning laden with papers which had been brought from Plymouth by road. Well over 300,000 were deposited there during Friday night, and of these, 132,000 were conveyed by air to Birmingham, Nottingham, Cardiff, Bournemouth, Monmouth, Gloucester, Oxford, Swindon, Reading, Newbury, Tonbridge and Weymouth. The remainder were distributed by road. Twelve machines were used, the journey to Birmingham being made by a Handley-Page twin engine passenger machine, which attracted much interest. The papers were on sale in Birmingham by 7am. Major Openshaw, one of the Westland pilots, made the journey to Oxford. The somewhat dangerous feat of piloting her machine from Netheravon to Yeovil, mainly with her left hand, was performed by a lady pilot, Mrs Eliot-Lynn, who had injured her right wrist while starting up after a short landing. She was not prevented from carrying out other flying duties later. Six Avro machines took 32,000 papers to Cardiff on Monday morning. The organisation for the whole scheme was carried out by Mr J C Joynt (of the Westland Works) and Mr H Marshall (London). It speaks highly of the Westland Works that the scheme was able to be put in force in so short a time. Among the many feats performed was the preparation of the airfield for night landings for which it is not normally suited, in the record time of one and a-half hours on Sunday night.”



Courtesy of Jack Sweet

Members of the Westland Aerodrome's Organisation which, the day after the General Strike was declared, dispatched over 150,000 newspapers to every part of southern England and Wales.


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

A group of the aeroplanes at the Westland Aircraft Co's Aerodrome at Yeovil.


Courtesy of Jack Sweet

Mrs Elliott-Lynn, one of the few British lady pilots, who fractured her arm when flying to the Westland Aircraft Co's aerodrome at Yeovil in order to assist in the distribution of newspapers by air during the strike. Mrs Elliott-Lynne finished her flight safely and assisted in the Westland organisation, which delivered over 150,000 newspapers on the day following the TUC's action, in spite of her injury.