ISSUE 17, April 2006
Editorial
Historic: The Brother who designed the Spitfire
Travel: The charm of Kerala
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's speech and Quarterly Communication
Public Relations: Hottest spot in town
International: Emulation in Bulgaria and Mauritius takes a leap forward and Hungary's Royal Arch library
Library & Museum: Recent acquisitions
Masonic Bibles: Lodges and their Bibles
    Royal Masonic Girls' School: My thanks to the Freemasons
Holocaust: The Count of Auschwitz
Education: International conference on the history of Freemasonry and Events
Specialist Lodges: Masonry universal - via radio
Masonic Charities: Grand Charity continues to help those in need and New Masonic Samaritan Fund and Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
Grand Charity: The Tsunami - one year on and Important Gift Aid information
Letters, Book Reviews, and Gardening

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Below
RJ Mitchell at a dinner at the Southwestern Hotel, Southampton in 1931

    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 Road, Southampton.
    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 single-minded.
    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 at Southampton.
    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 Wellington bomber.
    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.


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