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Bamford, Joseph Cyril (1916–2001), engineer and businessman, was born on 21 June 1916 at The Parks, New Road, Uttoxeter, Staffordshire, the son of Cyril Joseph Bamford, agricultural engineer, and his wife, Dolores Alice, née Turner. His family controlled and managed a long-established farm machinery business. The company, which manufactured balers and other equipment, had been started by his great-great-grandfather in 1812. He was brought up a Roman Catholic. After education at ...

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Joseph Cyril Bamford (1916–2001) by Lucinda Douglas-Menzies, 1989 © Lucinda Douglas-Menzies; collection National Portrait Gallery, London

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Bianconi, Charles [formerly Joachim Carlo Giuseppe Bianconi] (1786–1875), transport entrepreneur, was born Joachim Carlo Giuseppe Bianconi on 24 September 1786 at the village of Tregolo in Lombardy, not far from Como. He came from a landowning family, and was the second of five children of ...

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Blount, Sir Edward Charles (1809–1905), banker and railway promoter, was born on 16 March 1809 at Bellamour, near Rugeley, Staffordshire, the second son of Edward Blount (1769–1843), banker and politician, and his wife, Frances (d. 1859), daughter of Francis Wright of Fitzwalters, Essex...

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Bruce [née Petre], Mildred Mary (1895–1990), motorist and aviator, was born on 10 November 1895 at Margaretting, Ingatestone, Essex, the daughter of Lawrence Joseph Petre (1864–1944), landowner, of Coptfold Hall, Essex, and his wife, Jennie Maginness, née Williams (d. 1943), an actress. She was educated at the convent of ...

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Conrad, Joseph [formerly Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski] (1857–1924), master mariner and author, was born on 3 December 1857 at Berdyczów in Ukraine.

Conrad was the only child of ...

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Cooper, John Newton (1923–2000), racing car engineer, was born at 49 Fassett Road, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, on 17 July 1923, the son of Charles Newton Cooper (1893–1964), motor engineer, and Violet Elsie (née Paul). Educated at Surbiton county school, he left at fifteen to become apprenticed to one of his father's toolmaking companies. He moved on to another company specializing in naval equipment, then spent the Second World War as an aircraft instrument maker, serving in the ...

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D'Erlanger, Leo Frederic Alfred (1898–1978), merchant banker and air transport promoter, was born on 2 July 1898 at 6 Hamilton Place, London, the elder of the two children of Baron François Rodolphe D'Erlanger (1872–1932), writer on Arab music and painter, and his wife, ...

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Dudley, Sir Robert (1574–1649), mariner and landowner, was born at Sheen House, Richmond, Surrey, on 7 August 1574, the son of Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester (1532/3–1588), and Douglas Sheffield (née Howard), Lady Sheffield (1542/3–1608). The status of his birth, which was to become the leading obsession of his life, is still debated, as are the circumstances of his early life, due in part to his own deliberate exaggerations and falsifications. Despite his mother's later claim that she refused to surrender him to ...

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Sir Robert Dudley (1574–1649) by Nicholas Hilliard, c. 1591–3 National Museum of Fine Arts, Sweden

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Girouard, Sir (Édouard) Percy Cranwill (1867–1932), railway engineer and colonial governor, was born on 26 January 1867 in Montreal, the son of Désiré Girouard (1836–1911) and his second wife, Essie (d. 1879), daughter of Dr Joseph Cranwill of Ballynamona, Ireland. The Girouard...

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Gower [married name Fahie], Pauline Mary de Peauly (1910–1947), aviator, was born on 22 July 1910 at Tunbridge Wells, Kent, the younger of two daughters of Sir Robert Vaughan Gower (1880–1953), solicitor and Conservative MP, and his first wife, Dorothy Susie Elenor (1882–1936)...

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Pauline Mary de Peauly Gower (1910–1947) by Bassano, 1937 © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Hansom, Joseph Aloysius (1803–1882), architect and inventor of the safety cab, was born at 63 Micklegate, York, on 26 October 1803, the second of the nine children of Henry Joseph Francis Hansom (bap. 1778, d. 1854), joiner and builder, and his wife, ...

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Alexander Adolphus Dumphries Henshaw (1912–2007) by unknown photographer, 1938 collection of Philip Jarrett

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Henshaw, Alexander Adolphus Dumphries [Alex] (1912–2007), aviator, was born on 7 November 1912 in Peterborough, Northamptonshire, one of four children of Albert Henshaw (1888–1964), a wealthy entrepreneur in agriculture, property, and the holiday industry in Lincolnshire. He was educated at Lincoln grammar school...

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Holland, John Philip (1841–1914), inventor of the modern submarine, was born on 24 February 1841 in Castle Street, Liscannor, co. Clare, Ireland, the son of John Holland, a coastguard, and Mary Scanlon. Educated first at Limerick, he was prevented by poor eyesight from going to sea, so he took the initial vows of the teaching order of the Christian Brothers and studied at their schools in ...

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Howley, Richard Joseph (1871–1955), transport company director, was born on 9 July 1871 at Rich Hill, co. Limerick, the son of Lieutenant-Colonel John Howley, deputy lieutenant. He was educated at Oscott College, the Jesuit establishment near Birmingham, and at the University of Dublin...

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Vincenzo Lunardi (1759–1806) by Francesco Bartolozzi, pubd 1784 (after Richard Cosway) © National Portrait Gallery, London

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Lunardi, Vincenzo (1759–1806), balloonist, was born at Lucca, Tuscany, on 11 January 1759, and passed his early years in the East Indies before becoming, through the patronage of his guardian, Chevalier Gherado Compangi, secretary to the Neapolitan ambassador to the Court of St James...