RJ Mitchell at a dinner at the
Southwestern Hotel, Southampton
In moving to Southampton in 1916, Mitchell had
left behind Florence Dayson, a headmistress whom he had
married in 1918 in Stoke and who moved with him to Bullar
By 1920, Mitchell had become chief designer and chief
engineer of Supermarine, and he was still only 25 years old.
He set about creating his close-knit design team of whom
he was fiercely proud and protective. He could be direct,
short-tempered, even brutal, and he was without doubt
He was possessed of good looks, a ready smile for friends
and a keen sense of humour. This was in contrast, in public
at least, to the fact that he had a slight stammer and a shy
demeanour. He was generous and warm to his team, but
possessed of a fierce intolerance for those who did not meet
his exacting standards.
Brother Mitchell was proposed into Jasper Lodge 3934 in
1921 not by his father, but by Bro. Good, the Senior Warden
and W Bro. Story, the Immediate Past Master.
He was described as ‘chief aviation engineer of Avenue
Road, Itchin, Southampton.’ His father, as Junior Warden,
delivered the Charge on the night and there were a large
number of visitors present, including seven from Bro
Mitchell’s old school Lodge, Hanliensian No. 3935, which
meets at Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent.
Bro Mitchell attended on a regular basis to begin with,
but those attendances fell away in direct proportion to
his commitments with Supermarine many miles away
Between 1920 and 1936 he designed 24 different aircraft
ranging from light aircraft and fighters to huge flying boats
and bombers – a remarkable output during a 16-year period.
When Vickers took over Supermarine in 1928 they tried
to get Mitchell to work with one of their own top designers,
but he would leave the room when the other designer
turned up. Vickers gave way and let the Supermarine
design team carry on as before. Their own designer went
back to Vickers proper. His name? Barnes Wallis – inventor
of the famous Dam Busters bouncing bomb and the
Through the 1920s and 1930s he led his design team in
creating a succession of ground-breaking aircraft. He achieved
great national prominence as the chief designer of the aircraft
which succeeded in winning the massively prestigious
Schneider Trophy speed races for nations on three succeeding
occasions, thereby retaining that Trophy for Britain.
He also took numerous airspeed records in this period.
During these few short years the aircraft had moved from a
bi-plane contrivance made of wood canvas and wire into the
sleek mono-hulled, steel-bodied machine we now recognise,
and which evolved ultimately into the Spitfire design.