Scottish Emergency Mail
Copyright © 2022 Robert Farquharson All Rights Reserved
British Internal Airmails of the 1930’s
At various times during the 1930’s the weather was so bad that the boats that serviced the small Islands without an air service could not run. in these cases the GPO hired various Airlines to fly Emergency mail to allow mail to continue to get to the Islands in adverse weather. There were four Airlines that flew emergency mail at one time or another in the 1930’s. These were Highland Airways, Aberdeen/Allied Airways, Northern and Scottish Airlines and Scottish Airways. The details of these flights are under the different Airlines and the creating of this section will not see that information removed. However, it is currently difficult to see the Emergency flights as a whole and this rectifies this ommission. So although all the information is duplicated it allows a user to see all the Emergency flights that took place in Scotland in the 1930’s.

First Sanday Emergency flight. 23rd December 1936 - Highland Airways.

Letters and parcels from North Ronaldshay were stranded on the Isle of Sanday and hence the post office chartered Highland Airways to fly the mail from Sanday to Kirkwall. Mail from this flight is very scarce. The example below has a Francis Field description on the back of the cover and has his ‘guaranteed genuine’ cachet and also his signature.

Stronsay Emergency Flight. 27th January 1937 - Highland Airways.

There was an emergency flight from Sanday on the 23rd December 1936, but no mail is thought to have survived. The first emergency flight where examples of flown mail are in existence are the Stronsay Emergency flight of the 27th January 1937. Pilot Adam Smith conveyed mail from Stronsay to Kirkwall and Kirkwall to Stronsay. Foodstuffs were then carried to North Ronaldsay, but no mail was carried on the flight.
Commercial cover to the Director of Education at Kirkwall. Endorsed by the pilot Adam Smith, who endured appalling conditions (75Mph winds) to complete the journey.

Second Sanday Emergency flight. 28th January 1937 - Highland Airways.

The bad weather continuing and it still being impossible to carry mail by sea, Capt. Fresson flew from Kirkwall to Sanday and back, calling at Westray and Rousay. 200 lbs of letters and parcels were flown to Rousay, 66 lb of letters only being flown to Rousay and Sanday. Mail from North Ronaldshay was included with that lifted from Sanday and a small mail from Eglishay was included with the Rousay mail. A total of 140 lbs of mail was returned to Kirkwall.
28 Jan 1937. 2 nd Emergency flight from Sanday. Posted at Sanday on the 25 th January. It was flown by Ted Fresson to Kirkwall. He also called at Rousay and Westray.

Shetland Emergency flight. 29th January 1937 - Aberdeen Airways.

Mail was only flown on one flight as Aberdeen Airways. This was the Emergency flight on the 29th January 1937. By the time they got the mail contract the name had been changed to Allied Airways. Mail had lain stormbound for a fortnight and Aberdeen Airways were contracted to deliver the mail by air to Lerwick and the mail from Lerwick to Aberdeen. 989lb of mail was flown from Aberdeen to Thurso in a De Havilland Dragon piloted by James Gordon Hay. At Thurso, the mail was transferred to another Dragon flown by H. Vallance. The plane arrived at Sumburgh at 4.30 pm. After the mail had been taken off the plane the plane was loaded with a light consignment of mail from Shetland for points South of Kirkwall. Vallance flew to Kirkwall where the mail was transferred to the steamer “St Magnus”. Redgrove says about the covers from the Shetlands “So far as the covers flown from Shetland are concerned, it is doubtful any were preserved”. Redgrove may be correct as I have no covers to show from the Shetlands.

Emergency mail to Scalloway

Emergency mail to Airth

Emergency mail to Scalloway
Emergency mail to Airth

Glasgow – Islay Emergency flight. 4th September 1936. - Northern and Scottish Airways.

4th September 1936. The mail for Jura missed the mail boat on this day and the post office arranged for the mail to be flown form Renfrew to Islay. Flown covers are very rare indeed. I have no examples to show from this flight.
Glasgow to Islay. Pilot signed
Islay to Campbeltown commemorative
Islay to Campbeltown rear.
Glasgow to Campbeltown. Pilot signed.

Renfrew - Islay - Campeltown Emergency Flight 12th March 1937. Northern and Scottish Airways

On the 12th March 1937 the boat “Pioneer” was disabled, and Northern and Scottish Airways were chartered to convey mail between Renfrew, Islay and Campbeltown. A rather plain commemorative envelope was produced, that had the name of the company and details of the journey printed on the left top corner of the envelope. On the rear was printed ‘Why not travel by air to the Isle of Man and the Western Isles’. The commemorative envelope flown from Islay to Campbeltown is shown below. Full datails are as follows: - Destination Arrive Depart weight of mail Renfrew 09.00 571lbs Islay 09.30 09.35 13lbs Campbeltown 10.10 10.15 293lbs Islay 10.30 11.15 66lbs Renfrew 12.25

Inverness-Stornoway Emergency flight. 4th March 1938. Highland Airways.

On this date mail for the Isle of Lewis was held up by heavy seas at Kyle (Ross and Cromarty). It was therefore recalled to Inverness and was flown to Stornoway on behalf of the post office by Highland Airways. Ted Fresson carried forty bags of mail on the outward service and there was no return mail. Flown covers are rare and I do not have an example to show.
17th December 1938. Emergency mail. Mail to North Ronaldsay normally went by boat from Sanday, but due to bad weather this had not been possible for a number of days. Scottish Airways were chartered to take the mail. Capt. Hankins flew to Sanday took on more mail and continued to North Ronaldsay. The cachet on the example here was apparently applied by the pilot’s agent. Normal covers are extremely scarce as the inhabitants were collecting postage stamps for charity.

Emergency flight to North Ronaldsay. 17th December 1938. Scottish Airways

Normal Cover Front 17th December 1938
Normal Cover Back 17th December 1938
Scottish Emergency Mail
This a curious section. It is for mail that was carried by plane but does not fit into any other service. I would love to hear from anyone who has any mail carried by any of the five companies below, or any other airlines for which there may be souvenir mail. Below is a list and all the information I have on these airmails. I show examples of all the mail apart from British Amphibious Airlines. The date against the entry is the first or only date that mail was flown. The list is in chronological order of the date flown. I know also from collector records that a cover exists of a Kingsford Smith positioning flight on 11th June 1930 from Croydon to Dublin for their transatlantic flight on the 24th. I also know there is a cover carried by Olley flying services from London to Liverpool to Dublin on March 6th 1936. Any information on these gratefully received. 25th March 1932 - British Amphibious Airlines Ltd - At least one mail sent from Blackpool to Douglas, Isle of Man. 26th August 1932 - The British Flying Boat company. At least one mail sent from Portree to Greenock. 2nd November 1933. Humber Flying Services. At least five mails sent between Hull and Grimsby. 9th August 1934. Southend Flying Services. At least one mail sent in both directions from Southend to Rochester. 12th July 1939. Pan American Airways. 6 covers taken by passenger on first flight from Southampton to Foynes.

British Amphibious Airlines Ltd

The Airline was founded by John Horseman Ltd on February 22, 1932 and managed by Lieutenant Monk who was also the pilot. Initially he took the plane from the Isle of Man and flew joy rides over Blackpool. He started a scheduled service on 18th March 1932 from Isle of Man to Blackpool, landing on the beach in both places. He flew an Avro Cutty Sark and charged £1.65 single and £3 return. Gordon Kniveton in his book Manx Aviation gives the following example of a flown mail.
There were adverts in the paper for a service from Speke in Liverpool to the Isle of Man, but this was a different company and although it did some joyriding there was never a regular service. The service finished for the Summer in 1932 but started up again in 1933 but with less services. After closing on the 7th October 1933, Whitehall Securities got involved and in 1935 started United AIrways to fly the same route. It does not appear that this company flew scheduled services after 1933

The British Flying Boat Company.

This new company was registered on the 23rd June 1932, for the purpose of operating services between the Clyde and the Western Isles and to Belfast. The Chairman was the Duke of Montrose and the General Manager Lord Douglas Malcolm Hamilton. The General Manager and Flight Lieutenant J. Gordon Murray were the pilots. And on the 15th July 1932 their new amphibian the Saunders Roe Cloud G-AEIW Cloud of Iona was launched at Cowes. Later in July a proving flight was made from Greenock to Oban carrying eight passengers and then on the 15th August the company inaugurated a service from Greenock to Belfast, six passengers being carried with Lord Douglas Hamilton at the controls. This service only lasted five days and during the August 1932 Games week the Cloud of Iona was based at Portree giving joy rides. On the 26th August the Cloud of Iona took off from Portree to fly back to its home base at Greenock. The cover shown here was flown on that return flight and posted on arrival, receiving the GREENOCK RENFREWSHIRE machine cancel for 6.45 pm 25 AUG 1932. The envelope and the letter it contains, on the notepaper of the Royal Hotel Portree signed by Lord David Crichton Stuart, both indicate that it was intended to post this item of mail at Gourock. Perhaps it was landed there, but transferred to the postal system in Greenock. Although of an unofficial nature, this cover would appear to be the only flown item surviving from the pioneer activities of this little known Scottish Airline.

Hull and Grimsby Air Ferry (Humber Air Ferry)

This is the only one of the four airlines which appeared in Redgrove. He listed the Airline under East Yorkshire Motor Services, but they were the part owners along with North Sea Aerial Navigation Company and the service was never named after them. Sometimes they called themselves Hull and Grimsby Air Ferry and sometimes Humber Air Ferry. Take your pick. The service was initiated on 1st July 1933 and ran between Hendon Aerodrome, Hull and Waltham Aerodrome, Grimsby. The service ran three times daily and took 15 minutes to get from Hull to Grimsby. There was no Sunday service. There was some interest in a label they produced but as Redgrove pointed out it was just and advertising label (see below). They did fly some mail on the 2nd November 1933 when 5 covers were flown for Mr D.S. Glover. They each has a small label reading ‘HUMBER/AIR FERRY AND/CHARTER SERVICES’ The service terminated on 4th November 1933.

Southend Flying Services.

In 1933 the key mover for aviation in Southend was Councillor G. E. Weber who was also the Chairman of Southend Flying Services. He was at the forefront of attempts to get the council to open a municipal airport. Southend Flying Services managed Southend Flying Club who had several Aircraft including a De Havilland 84 Fox Moth. In 1934 they explored the idea of a Service to Rochester and contacted Short Brothers the aircraft manufacturers who had a lease on Rochester Airport. On the 9th June 1934 Southend Flying Services in conjunction with Short brothers started a service to Rochester and back, 7 days a week every hour on the hour from 09.00 hours and 19.00 The service was advertised to reduce to 4 services a day in Winter but the service ended on 7th October. The Rocheford aerodrome was linked with Southend by a 7-minute bus service provided by Westcliff-on-sea motor services, who also acted as agents. At Rochester, the aerodrome was well connected by bus services to both local towns and the rest of Kent. Initially Southend Flying services provided their Fox Moth and Short brothers their new Short Scion which they were keen to advertise. Southend flying services provided their Aerodrome until they moved to the new Municipal aerodrome. Short Brothers provided Rochester Airport until it became a municipal airport later in 1934. The Short Scion was flown by Short Brothers chief test pilot J. Lancaster Parker and his assistant Harold L. Piper. The service flew to 26th October 1935 when the service ceased. By 1935 Short brothers were providing two Scions and Southend flying services had a Scion of their own. I have not been able to ascertain why the service ceased in 1935. The water crossing was 4 miles, and it took 12 minutes to fly the journey and the passenger fares were 8-shilling single, and 12- shilling return. The covers below are the only souvenir covers I have seen. If anyone has any further information, please let me know.
Southend to Rochester
Copyright © 2020 Robert Farquharson All Rights Reserved
Small timetable
Hull to Grimsby
British Internal Airmails of the 1930’s

Pan American Airways

The newly established Pan Am flights from New York to London via Foynes took place on a weekly basis. The first two flights carried only mail and guest passengers. The first westbound flight to carry fare paying passengers left Southampton on July 12, 1939. A few covers were carried from Southampton to Foynes by one of the passengers on this flight. These covers franked with 1 1/2d. postage, postmarked at the Southampton Civic Centre on July 12th, have a Foynes arrival postmark of July 13th.