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British Industrial History

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Noel Pemberton-Billing

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Noel Pemberton Billing (1880-1948)

1881 January 31st. Born in Hampstead, the youngest child of Charles Eardley Billing, a Birmingham iron-founder, and his wife, Annie Emilia Claridge.

Educated at the high school, Hampstead;

Educated at Cumming's College, outside Boulogne

Educated at Westcliff College, Ramsgate

Educated at Craven College, Highgate

1881 Living at 6 College Villas Road, Hampstead: Charles E. Billing (age 40 born Birmingham), Gas Stove Manufacturer employing 1 man and 8 boys. With his wife Annie A. Billing (age 35 born Coventry) and their children Eardley D. Billing (age 7 born London), Mabel B. Billing (age 6 born London), Hilda W. Billing (age 4 born London), Claribel M. Billing (age 3 born London), Adeline A. Billing (age 1 born London), and Noel P. Billing (age born London). Five servants.[1]

1891 Living at 100 Abbey Road, Hampstead: Charles Eardley Billing (age 50 born Birmingham), Gas Stove and (?) Burner Manufacturer. With his wife Annie Amelia Billing (age 45 born Coventry) and their children Eardley Delorney Billing (age 17 born South Kensington), Mabel Barrow Billing (age 16 born South Kensington), Hilda Westley Billing (age 14 born South Hampstead), Noel Pemberton Billing (age 10 born South Hampstead), and Mary Claribel Belling (age 13 born South Hampstead). Also two boarders. Three servants.[2]

1894 Stowed away on a ship bound for Delagoa Bay. In Durban he drifted into a succession of menial jobs before joining the Natal mounted police.

1899-1901 Fought in the South African War.

1903 Returned to England

1903 Married Lilian Maud (d. 1923), daughter of Theodore Henry Schweitzer, of Bristol. There were no children.

1908-10 Edited the new journal Aerocraft

1908 Designed and tested, on his own airstrip in Fambridge, Essex, three light monoplanes, two of which left the ground.

1911 Living at 3 Essex Court, Temple, EC: Noel Pemberton Billing (age 30 born Hampstead), Student of Law. With his wife (married seven years) Lilian Maud Pemberton Billing (age 40 born Clifton, Bristol).[3]

Billing then entered into land speculation, writing, yacht broking, and ship-running.

By 1913 he had amassed enough capital to found a yard on Southampton Water, where he pioneered the construction of flying boats (supermarines).

1913 Learned to fly

1914 Formed Pemberton-Billing

1914 Commodore Murray Sueter selected the 'strange, unscrupulous, buccaneering, reckless polymath' Noel Pemberton Billing to plan and execute a raid on German Zeppelin hangars at Friedrichshafen. He was granted a temporary commission as a sub-lieutenant in the Royal Naval Air Service. The remarkable tale of his involvement is told in 'The Flatpack Bombers'[4]

1916 As a squadron commander, he retired in frustration in order to publicize his complaints about the way the war in the air was being conducted.

1918 Sued for criminal libel by the dancer Maud Allan

At the start of the Second World War Billing produced a design for a pilotless flying bomb; the British authorities turned it down.

1948 November 11th. Died on his motor yacht Commodore, The Quay, Burnham-on-Crouch, Essex.

See Wikipedia entry for information on the more bizarre aspects of Billing's life.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. 1881 Census
  2. 1891 Census
  3. 1911 Census
  4. 'The Flatpack Bombers': The Royal Navy and the Zeppelin Menace, by Ian Gardiner, 2009, 2011, 2014, Pen & Sword Aviation
  • ODNB
  • BAE Systems. A Proud Heritage in Aviation. Published 1995 / 2000