1. ITV Report

Aviation pioneer's home to be restored

Aviation pioneer Robert Blackburn Photo: Prof Robert Blackburn

The ancestral home of a Yorkshire aviation pioneer will be restored to its former glory.

The grandson and great granddaughter of Robert Blackburn - who made history when he flew his self-designed monoplane in 1910 - will launch the building work at Bowcliffe Hall in Bramham, near Leeds tomorrow.

The restoration at the 200-year-old hall, spanning 50 acres, is a tribute to Robert.

Bowcliffe Hall Credit: Prof Robert Blackburn

Much of his test flying was done at Roundhay Park, Harrogate and in Filey. Robert also carried out the world's first scheduled flight between Leeds and Bradford - with the Mayor of Leeds amongst the first passengers.

Bowcliffe Hall was a vibrant meeting place for aircraft pioneers, RAF officials and national politicians and other experts including Amy Johnson.

Tomorrow, Robert Blackburn's grandson Robert and great-granddaughter Amy will dig the first sod of a dedicated Blackburn Wing, which will become a conference suite shaped like the wing of an aircraft.

Amy - like her great-grandfather - studied engineering at Leeds University.

Robert's great-granddaughter Amy Blackburn in a 1910 monoplane Credit: Prof Robert Blackburn

Robert's wife Jessica Blackburn was herself one of the most colourful and personalities of early British aviation industry. She was one of the first women to fly in a British monoplane before the First World War, taking her first flight in Roundhay Park.

In 1915, Robert and Jessica founded Blackburn Aircraft in East Yorkshire, one of the most important aviation companies in Britain until the 1950s when it was taken over by Hawker Siddeley. The Blackburn company's long line of successful aeroplanes included the Mercury monoplane, the Swift, the Dart, the Kangaroo, the Iris seaplane, the Beverley, and the Buccaneer.