The Bowland Forest Gliding Club at Chipping has a continuous history from 1950, and ample records of activities and developments. This is a happy outfit based on self-help, has not out-grown reliance on effort freely offered, has not felt the need to employ staff, but has kept an excellent spirit among members. These ideas allowed us to grow steadily with sound finances, while holding fees and charges as low as possible, hence allowing many less-than-wealthy people to participate, and to contribute in very valuable ways. Our history is well worth recording while some of the original people are able to collate and decipher the early papers, put names to faces on the photographs, and reminisce.

Previous gliding activities in Lancashire started from 1910 and have been included because of their great interest, and since they have largely gone without mention elsewhere.

  • Samuel Cody demonstrated man-lifting kites here before the Wright brothers flew.
  • The glider of Lee & Richards flew at Kirkby Lonsdale in 1912.
  • The Leeming-Prince-Wood glider of 1924 was flown in Manchester.
  • The English Electric Wren of 1923 was made in Preston, a motor glider years ahead of its time.
  • Two local gliding clubs were formed in 1930, at Preston and Blackpool, and gliding techniques were fully demonstrated in 1931.

An ATC Gliding School in Blackpool from 1942-1948 helped to sow seeds for gliding in this area. Its demise led to the formation of the Blackpool & Fylde Gliding Club, with Jack Aked as the proprietor, and his story is told in some detail. Sometimes it will appear that we thought he was inhibiting development, for he was very conservative. He was a patient instructor, and very aware of safety considerations, thus he did not encourage cross-country flying. Perhaps he was more wise than us. He is remembered with affection and thanks for the very great contributions he made in so many ways to the successful founding of this thriving club, between 1950 and his death in 1979.

Groups of papers have been collected from Jack Aked, Basil Meads, Ivor Stretch, Terry Hogben Stanley Race, Shirley Clapham, Malcolm Eaves and Keith Emslie, while minutes of committee meetings, stacks of flying log sheets and other records have accumulated. Primary source material will be stored at Chipping.....look after it well, it is priceless.

Reminiscences have been provided by Gordon Bleasdale, Alec Lunn, Shirley Clapham, John Gibson, Ian Hamilton, Harry Hargreaves and Eric Gillett. Comments on the draft, and revisions, have been provided by Gordon and Alec. The text was written by me, Keith Emslie, over many years, not always with the primary source material in front of me. My fading memory often caught me out, thus I regret any persisting errors that I have not corrected.

This document has drawn on published material, always acknowledged, is intended for interested members of the gliding club only, and will not be published or sold. Brief versions of this story were published in club newsletters 70 - 74, August 1992 to January 1995, without any diagrams or pictures. The less-well-known early material will be amplified and offered more widely. A small amount of cine film exists, and perhaps video can be taken of the old gliders while they are still airworthy. Any further material that may come to light, to add to the surprising amount of material that has survived, will be welcomed.


Keith Emslie, #9; August 1998.