When the Great Air Display came to Heath Hayes


The Great Air Display at Heath Hayes: Item kindly donated by Reg Fullelove, from his collection.

Occasionally I’m sent material that I have no idea what to do with, and can only present what I have, and let readers explore it themselves – and so it is with this remarkable collection of ephemera very kindly donated to the Brownhills Blog by local treasure and good friend Reg ‘Are Reg’ Fullelove.

It seems that on Sunday, September 8th 1935, noted aviator Sir Alan Cobham brought his travelling air show to the Top Common at Heath Hayes, and this incredible spectacle – featuring the very latest in aeronautical technology of the day – worked the local press into quite a lather.

Reg has a collection of photos and clippings relating to this airshow, which he kindly allowed the young David Evans to scan. They are remarkable things, yet I can’t think of a better way to present them than just as they are – so scanned in all their glory I post them here.

Amongst the clippings and photos, some youtube films are included to illustrate the type of craft seen at this unusual show. The atmosphere on the day must have been incredible, and I’m surprised and confounded that I’ve never heard this event mentioned before.

David had this to say about Reg’s very kind donation:

Hello Bob

Over another cup of tea and chat with Reg Fullelove, he offered me this amazing collection of materials and information regarding a pre-war air show in Heath Hayes. and thought that your blog readers might be interested.

We have very little record of early airborne visitors, Audrey Proffitt recorded the passing of an airship in 1927, the unfortunate landing in Holland Park, the 1926 Aerofilms image series taken by a reconnaissance plane, but very little else seems to exist.

So my eyes lit up when I read the press reports, and especially the photos taken on the day of the Heath Hayes Air Show, which took place on the Top Common.

My sincere thanks are extended to Reg Fullelove BEM for his generosity and kindness. cheers David

I will again reiterate that Reg has been a great friend to the blog, and has supplied much remarkable material – from the film of the 1934 Brownhills Carnival, to details of local mining, through his wonderful poetry and recollections of his choral roots – and many readers have told me how much they enjoy Reg’s participation in the comments.

Please excuse the crops on some of the scans, it’s how the originals are.

I’d like readers to apply themselves to this one if they feel so inclined, please: what can we find out about this show? Where, for a start, is Heath Hayes ‘Top Common’? Is there any other material out there? does anyone have any tales their families passed to them of the air show?

Please comment here or mail me: BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com. Thanks!


The Great Air Display at Heath Hayes: Item kindly donated by Reg Fullelove, from his collection.

The Original Flying Flea – posted on YouTube by Bomberguy


The Great Air Display at Heath Hayes: Item kindly donated by Reg Fullelove, from his collection.

Scott and Alan Cobham air show. Aviation displays of the 1920’s and 1930’s Amateur home movie – posted on YouTube by Huntley Film Archives


The Great Air Display at Heath Hayes: Item kindly donated by Reg Fullelove, from his collection.


The Great Air Display at Heath Hayes: Item kindly donated by Reg Fullelove, from his collection.


The Great Air Display at Heath Hayes: Item kindly donated by Reg Fullelove, from his collection.

Aviation’s Latest Wonder: the wingless autogiro, from British Pathe Archive posted on YouTube.


The Great Air Display at Heath Hayes: Item kindly donated by Reg Fullelove, from his collection.


The Great Air Display at Heath Hayes: Item kindly donated by Reg Fullelove, from his collection.


The Great Air Display at Heath Hayes: Item kindly donated by Reg Fullelove, from his collection.

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9 Responses to When the Great Air Display came to Heath Hayes

  1. Keith Bradbury says:

    Brilliant! Good O’d Reg.

  2. Clive says:

    Big thank you to are Reg; Dave and Bob. I like the statement on one of the newspaper clipping: if you can nail pieces of wood to gether you can build an aeroplane, I bet you would end up with a lot of dead would be pilots!

  3. Andy Dennis says:

    This had passed me by, too. It’s the sort of thing that Dad have been taken to, but he never mentioned it.
    From this distance it seems odd that just four years before WW2 that such planes were at the cutting edge, but, essentially, it was a biplane that did for the Bismarck.
    Only a few weeks later the first Hawker Hurricane would fly and go on to be the backbone of the air defences in the Battle of Britain.

  4. David Evans says:

    Hi Bob
    many thanks for this super presentation. I wonder if blog readers have any souvenirs of that day?
    kind regards

  5. Where was Heath Hayes Top Common? Here are two eye witness reports of the show.

    From “Harry Hartill’s Country – One Man’s Story” page 21/22 ……
    Another memory was seeing the airship R.33 pointed out to me by my mother. On another occasion she showed me the R.38 and in the year 1929 while looking for birds nests down Springhill I saw the R.101, which was the last airship to be built and crashed some time later in France
    Aeroplanes were still in their infancy at this time and everyone would come out of doors to watch one pass over. If we were playing in the street we would run home to tell our parents “quick, there’s an aeroplane coming”, and they flew so slow we would wait for them to pass overhead. Their top speed – being about sixty miles per hour, the common belief was that if a plane flew any faster the wind would cut the head off the pilot if he stuck it out of the cockpit. All the planes were Bi-planes having two wings and I recall Sir Alan Cobham a famous airman at the time coming to the wooden stables with his air circus. One of the planes was T. Campbell Blacks’ “Cadet” and a flight from the wooden stables taking in Heath Hayes cost six shillings . There was a house at this spot constructed of timber and in the grounds was a beautifully decorated gypsy caravan, or should I say replica, which was constructed entirely by David Spaull, a miner I worked with at Sevens Pit and whose home was in the wooden stable.

    From http://www.bfhg.org.uk/Journal-2006-02-Volume-14-Number-2.php ….
    As you come over the top of the hill (Cannock Road from Five Ways) and down towards where the Wooden Stables used to stand, the long field on the left was the one where, before the war, some time in the mid 1930s, an Air Circus was held. It was run by someone who was reputed to have been a famous pilot in the First World War. The aircraft were mostly old biplanes, except for one called ‘Flying Flea’ which was a very small monoplane. The show consisted of stunt flying, looping the loop, flying upside down and parachute jumps. There were also flights over Norton Pool at two and sixpence a go. This event was something that most locals had never seen before, and it was talked about for months afterwards.
    At the next junction was the road that led to Norton. Now there is a large traffic island with signs pointing in all directions, new roads and building all around. When I was young, all that was here was a railway crossing and a group of old wooden buildings known rather appropriately as The Wooden Stables. This is where the pit ponies that worked on the tramway were kept. The tramway brought the coal from the pit at Wimblebury to the Plant Pit, where it was cleaned and loaded onto railway wagons ready for transporting. Straight on and further along the road was a road sign which read “Town Centre”. Which town centre? I wondered.

  6. aerreg says:

    the town possibly was sankeys corner chase terrace there was a cinema there also one at five wayes both owend by the same owner his name escapes my mind at the moment the story goes the films at both started at the same time as each one finished some from each cinemare would grab the film jump on his byke and meet each other half way to swap it ready for showing the next performance its a shame so many of our land marks been forgotten boney hay the fly wembly wooden stables bomber common kennel mount yes i know it kanal mount but it was kenell to the old uns

  7. Pingback: Get with the programme: Brownhills Carnival 1939 | BrownhillsBob's Brownhills Blog

  8. mick c says:

    I have a friend, Frank Mathews from Norton Canes who says this air display actually visited twice, the second time he flew in a Tiger Moth style aircraft and I think he said it cost ten bob, a lot of money then, Frank is 2nd youngest of five siblings, all still alive who all went to see it, he is 84yo.

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