Tracking down the story behind propeller DH 1917

First published in News

THE son of two former workers at the Lostock De Havilland aircraft factory is trying to uncover the history of a wooden aircraft propeller kept in his loft.

Michael McEwing’s parents used to work at the site, which is now called MBDA.

He contacted The Bolton News after reading our recent feature about the Lostock site’s 75th anniversary.

Today the factory makes hitech missiles systems but made aircraft propellers when the company set up in 1937.

Mr McEwing said the nineft long, twin-blade wooden propeller has the marking “DH 1917”.

Mr McEwing bought the propeller three years ago from a pal in Clitheroe, who he first met at a traction engine rally.

The 69-year-old, of Birten Crescent, Bromley Cross, said: “My friend did some research about the propeller but didn’t have much success. He even contacted the Smithsonian Institute in the United States.

“My dad, Jim McEwing, who died in 1993, worked at De Havilland as a propeller inspector.

“He used to say the propellers didn’t leave the factory until he put his stamp of approval on them. My mum, Florence, also worked there during the war.”

Mr McEwing attended Tonge Fold Secondary Modern School then worked as a construction engineer, welder and blacksmith for firms including Harry Peers Steelwork, off Bury Road, Bolton. He also worked for the Gresham furniture firm, then based near Halliwell Road but now in Lostock, and as a security man at Smithills Hall and Belmont Bleachworks.

Now retired, he makes models as a hobby.

Mr McEwing thinks the propeller may have been made at De Havilland and got in touch with a security guard at MBDA who has refurbished other historic propellers to see if he could help. Dennis Warden, aged 57, who appeared in The Bolton News’ last month, has already salvaged a 1920s propeller from a DH 60 Moth flown by Captain Geoffrey DeHavilland in 1925.

It was displayed in the Barn Storm pub for years but is now on show in MBDA’s reception area next to a 1940s propeller, found by another security man, Trevor Norris.

l Anyone with information about the propeller can contact Mr Warden at MBDA, 01204 696557

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