The Inter-War Years

In 1914, the beginning of World War I, the Mary Gordon was fitted with a trial 8 to 10 horse power Alpha marine motor. This was from the Blackburn Aeroplane Company (later British Aerospace), then in Balm Road, Leeds. They specialised mainly in the development of Naval bombers, other sea planes and flying boats. As you can see in the photo, the trial engine was complete with propellor – and does not look very safe.

A small amount of further evidence is found in the book Yorkshire’s Early Flying Days, by Ronald Nelson Redman (now out of print but widely available, see )


The following illustration (page unknown) has the caption “The ‘Mary Gordon’ launch, the pride of Waterloo (unreadable) Roundhay Park, after its conversion in 1914 to aerial propulsion, with an 8-10 h.p. Alpha marine motor – no-one seemed to bother about that long unguarded driving chain!”. The illustration is credited to Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd. and was provided by Mr. John Freeman.


In 1923 the Mary Gordon was sold to Stephen Askew, a Wakefield cinema owner. He moved her on a wagon drawn by six horses from the Roundhay Park to the “Potato Basin” on the River Aire, Leeds, then she was taken to Wakefield. Askew had the Mary Gordon fitted with a petrol engine and ran her on half-hour Sunday trips on the River Calder between Chantry Bridge and Kikthorpe Weir. (This information from Edward Hawthorne: Electric Boats on the Thames). The Mary Gordon is next found in York, on the River Ouse.

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