C L Air Surveys Ltd.

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Does anyone have, or can anyone direct me to, information concerning C L Air Surveys Ltd.? The company seems to have been operational in the UK in the period 1946 - 49, initially at Croydon and latterly at Doncaster. I assume it to have been an aerial photographic surveying operation, but that is based purely upon the company name as I've failed, so far, to find any information concerning its UK operations.

The address given for the company initially is Holland House, 140 Cromwell Road, London SW7 but latterly it is given as No. 7 Reserve Flying School, RAF Ellers Road, The Airport, Doncaster (this is the infomation stated on the CAA registration documents for its aircraft). These seem to have comprised ex-RAF Mk. 1 Ansons G-AHKF, G-AHKG, G-AHKH, G-AHKI, G-AHKJ, G-AHRD, G-AIRL, G-AIRO, G-AIRW, G-AIXO and G-AIZH.

The company seems to have had connections with East Africa, to where several of these Ansons went after only relatively short periods registered to it in the UK. G-AHKF became VP-KDW, G-AHKG became VP-KEO, G-AHKI became VP-KEM, G-AHRD became VP-KDX and G-AIRW became VP-KHS (Kenya) whereas G-AIRM became VP-YLC (Southern Rhodesia). Indeed it seems that in c. 1947 C L Air Surveys Ltd. became Clairways Ltd. of Nairobi, where (in 1948) it applied for licenses to operate (a) a scheduled air service from Nairobi (or Mombasa) to Durban and (b) air charter and aerial work, including air survey and aerial photography, in Kenya, Uganda, Tanganyika and Zanzibar and until 1949 it seems to have been operating a scheduled air service between Nairobi and Aden (using Ansons and, possibly, a DC-3).

I know that this is a rather obscure enquiry (but that tends to be par for the course with me!) and that many of the experts who once frequented this forum have gone elsewhere, but there may be someone who knows something or who can point me in a direction that may be productive.

With my thanks in anticipation.

AA 

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You'll need to scroll up a few pages from where that link takes you, AA, to get to the start of the chapter!

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AA......       HAPPY NEW YEAR

I checked in Merton Jones's ""BRITISH INDEPENDENT AIRLINES"" but nothing there. As the operation did not carry either passengers or freight, I suppose that was to expected. 

There are a number of references to CLAIRWAYS in Wedekind's    ""Keith Campling and the story of Aviation in East Africa..." It does refer to the Doncaster connection.  I do have copies of photos of the several of the Kenyan registered Ansons.   I wish I could add more for you. 

Planemike

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Thank you, gentlemen. And a happy new year to you too!

I'm most grateful to you for the information that you've provided, in particular the reference to the online copy of Lettice Curtis' book (even if it does deal only with the pre-war activities of CL Air Surveys Ltd.).

Planemike, can you please elaborate upon the references to Clairways Ltd. in Wedekind's book? Does it suggest that Charles Lloyd relocated his business activities to East Africa in the early post-war years? If so, does it say why? Furthermore does it say anything concerning the demise of the company, which would appear to have occurred in the early 1950s? Guttery's 'Encyclopaedia of Afican Airlines' contains only five lines regarding Clairways Ltd..

C L Air Surveys Ltd. has come up as part of the research that I am undertaking concerning the aerial survey and photography companies, both large and small, which operated in the UK in the post-war years. I came to the subject expecting to find much had been written on it but was surprised at the dearth of published material. This could, of course, reflect the limited nature of my aviation history library and the paucity of online material may reflect the arcane nature of the topic. But if, for either or both reasons, there is material which exists but of which I am unaware, I shall be very grateful to be pointed in the direction of such.

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 "The Anson File" entry for C. L. Air Surveys states-

C.L.Ai r Surveys Operated six British-registered Anson Is on aerial survey work in Kenya, some later being given local registrations for the associated company Clairways Ltd.
Mk.I G-AHKF "Freddie the Fox", HKG "George the Goat", HKI, HKJ "Jack the Jaguar", HRD, IRW. Also G-AHKK (ntu

 

Happy New Year too!

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Happy new year AA,

                                      This from the 1950 Aeroplane Directory.

 

Aeroplane Directory 1950

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Thank you, Mothminor, for the hyperlink to the Hansard report. It makes for very interesting reading and goes quite some way in shedding light as to the demise of CL Air Surveys Ltd..

Thank you also, Chumpy, for the extract from the 1950 'Aeroplane' directory. I do hope that this is not a substantial volume such as to have necessitated seeking out the pit props to support your scanner whilst the book was on it!

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As to the demise of Clairways, I suspect that the crashes in 1948 of VP-KDW and VP-KEM (ex G-AHKI - my reference above to VP-KEL appears to be an error) in what is now Somalia and the crash in 1949 of VP-KEO at Nairobi, and the losses of those aircraft (which, presumably, were being used on the service between Nairobi and Aden), didn't help matters (as intimated by George Lindgren MP in the 1949 parliamentary debate reported in Hansard). Rather than CL Air Surveys Ltd. becoming Clairways Ltd. (as suggested above), could it have been that the latter was a subsidiary of the former and could it have been the case that when the latter was brought down by BOAC becoming involved with the service between Nairobi and Aden,  it took the former with it?

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Hi AA,

Reading the final paragraph of George Lindgren's speech on 26/1 then I'd be inclined to think that CL Air Surveys was the parent company of Clairways particularly considering his statement -

I say that this is a financial racket in which a group of people took a risk, failed in that risk, and tried to get back their losses by a very speculative operation in East Africa. 

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Oops photo didn't load that time! -

Anson vp-keo

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AA......      There are nine reference to Clairways in Wedekind's book.  The contact back to Doncaster is specifically mentioned. No mention of Charles Lloyd by name.  I think we can be fairly sure Clairways grew out of C L Air Surveys.  This might help you a little "" and also Clairways, another British company from Doncaster, who also ran scheduled services to Aden, Hargeisha and Berbera, among other destinations in Somalia. Their business declined following the withdrawal of the British military occupation of Somalia in 1948, and the company closed down sometime during 1950"".

There was considerable interest in aerial surveying in the late 40s and well into the 50s. Much of East Africa had not been mapped in any detail. Several companies using a variety of aircraft were active in this field.  Possibly the most well known was Spartan Air Service  from Canada who used a Mosquito during 1958 (among other more mundane fare at other times). The mapping work was carried out for several reasons not the least of which was the search for diamonds. They has been discovered at Shinyanga in about 1939 by Dr Williamson.......lead to the formation of Williamson's Diamond Mines.  Think we have drifted a little....!! 

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My continuing thanks to you both. It's reassuring that there are still a few knowledgeable posters who have stuck with this forum to contribute to obscure topics such as this!

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Apologies for being late to the party but I've just finished re-reading "Feet off the ground" by Michael J Hopkins. ( Thanks Planemike, I'll return it next week!). Hopkins was a ground engineer for Clairways and there are quite a few references to his work with them, including the flight when one of the Ansons crash-landed near Mreca. It appears that quite a lot of engineering work was carried out at Mombasa and that two UK Ansons, 'IXO and'KFK were chartered to replace the crashed Ansons. It also appears that Clairways had an agency fior Austin cars in East Africa so it was quite a decent size operation. There is also an amusing paragraph about them trying out a Miles Aerovan which ended with a gentle terminal descent in to the Rift Valley. Hope this helps.

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Indeed, ozplane. I shall look for the book.

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There's one for sale on abebooks at £15 I think.

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Planemike, the bulk of the survey work being undertaken at the time were baseline surveys by the Directorate of Colonial Surveys (later the Directorate of Overseas Surveys) on behalf of the FCO - as you say there was a complete lack of accurate mapping. Work continued until 2001 when the unit closed. The photographic collection passed to the National Collection of Aerial Photography: https://ncap.org.uk/feature/directorate-overseas-surveys-dos