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Blantyre Scotland

Aeroplane Built in Blantyre

The Smiddy, small building on the left.

The Smiddy

In 1860 a flying machine was built at the Smiddy in Broompark Road, 43 years before the first manned flight by the Wright Brothers in 1903.

Thomas Tailor, a local miller who worked in the Bardyke Mill, was also an inventor of many gadgets that could be used in Mills and Farms.

Thomas built an aeroplane which was powered by a steam engine. Mr Templeton, the Blacksmith at the Smiddy, manufactured the parts and assisted Thomas in its construction. The contraption was taken into the field adjoining the Smiddy to attempt its first flight. ( High Blantyre Primary School, was built on this field.)

The local inhabitants of Larkfield and Barnhill were of course very curious and a large crowd gathered to see the great event. It is not recorded who piloted the plane but we can safley assume that Thomas was the aviator.

Numerous attempts were made without success but it was noted that the nose of the aeroplane did in fact lift off the ground. Of course Thomas was not alone in attempting to invent the aeroplane. The principles of flight were known then, the quest being to generate enough speed to get the machine into the air. It was the invention of the petrol engine, 43 years after Thomas' attempts, that enabled the Wright Brothers to claim their place in history.

The onlookers watching Thomas' attempts were greatly amused and someone shouted, 'Haw Tam, if God had meant ye tae flee, he would hae gien ye wings.' Tom's reply to this remark was, 'Wha ever lives tae see the day, machines will fly o'er Blantyre.' How right he was.

The Smiddy still stands today although in poor condition.

The Smiddy still stands today although in poor condition.

From Neil Gordon's, Blantyre, an historical dictionary.

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