Beagle Aircraft Ltd
Shoreham, United Kingdom
The story of Beagle Aircraft Limited started in 1959 when
the directors of the Pressed Steel Company of Oxford met Peter Masefield,
the MD of Bristol Aircraft, who had ideas of building light aircraft to
meet current demands. Masefield, having left Bristol, became MD of Pressed
Steel's embryo company and then acquired the Auster Aircraft Co. at
Rearsby and F G Miles Ltd. at Shoreham. Thus followed on the 7 October
1960, the formation of the "British Executive & General Aviation Ltd."
(BEAGLE) as a subsidiary of Pressed Steel, comprising two companies known
as Beagle-Auster Ltd and Beagle -Miles Ltd.
Initial products were those designs
currently in hand at both Auster and Miles, and the Masefield design of an
executive twin was to follow. The three design offices concerned were all
eventually merged under the
Technical Directorship of H G Miles at the central design office at
Shoreham and on the 10 May 1962 the two separate Auster and Miles
companies were consolidated to become Beagle Aircraft Ltd.
The initial development of the large
number of aircraft types involved required a great deal of capital outlay
by Pressed Steel, i.e. £2 SM, whereas only £1 /4M was recouped from sales
during the first 2 1/2 years. Putting the B.206 into production proved the
most expensive and by the end of 1964 costs had reached £3M with further
expenditure inevitable. The directors of Pressed Steel Fisher (as it had
since become) were then being faced with a situation way beyond their
original expectations, despite the fact that in 1965 a small portion of
the B.206s costs were being underwritten by the Government.
Fisher were eventually absorbed into the British Motor Corporation who,
having reviewed the aviation side, realised that its full potential could
not be exploited without a substantial investment of funds and they were
not willing to do this. Discussions with the Government for additional
financial support proved fruitless and eventually escalated to the point
where, on the 1 2 December 1966, the company was acquired by the
Government for £1 M. However, under capitalisation remained the main
problem to the point where, in 1969, the Government refused to grant an
additional £6M for further development and the company was placed in the
hands of the receiver.
Although production continued, albeit at
a very low rate while efforts were made in both America and Europe to sell
it as a going concern, it was of no avail and the assets were gradually