King’s Cup is returned home

King's Cup returns to its former ancestral home: L to R: Jonathan Turner and Sarah Douglas. (S)
King's Cup returns to its former ancestral home: L to R: Jonathan Turner and Sarah Douglas. (S)

A silver cup which King George V presented to aviation pioneer Robert Blackburn is being returned to the family’s former ancestral home at Bowcliffe Hall to take pride of place in a recently completed £6m restoration tribute to the unsung hero.

Robert Blackburn’s daughter Sarah Douglas has presented entrepreneur Jonathan Turner - who spearheaded the restoration - with the King’s Cup commemorating her father’s aviation achievements. King George V awarded the trophy to Robert Blackburn at the end of the 1931 Kings Cup Air Race.

Sarah said: “My father would be very proud to see this magnificent restoration which reflects so much of his life and achievements and it is fitting that the King’s Cup is displayed in the Blackburn Wing for thousands of visitors to enjoy.”

The prestigious accolade will be installed in the iconic Blackburn Wing - the centrepiece of the scheme comprising a unique 2,060 sq ft tree house conference centre in the shape of an aeroplane which accommodates up to 140 guests.

The project at grade II listed Bowcliffe Hall, at Bramham, also features a Drivers Club restaurant for business tenants and guests to capture the nostalgia of the period when the Blackburns’ played host to guests including aircraft pioneers, media proprietors, RAF officials and national politicians such as Amy Johnson, Lord Northcliffe and Winston Churchill.

Robert Blackburn built his first monoplane in 1909 and regularly flew exhibition flights over Roundhay Park in Leeds and Filey.

He built his second monoplane in 1911 and went on to create the Blackburn Aeroplane & Motor Company with factories in Brough and Roundhay.

In 1917 his wedding reception was interrupted by Winston Churchill asking Blackburn to go to London to discuss supplying the Royal Naval Air Service with fighter planes for the war, following which, Blackburn Aviation went on to became the biggest supplier of aircraft to the RNAS.

A limited edition Blackburn Watch is available.

In a collaboration, Leeds jewellers Owen & Robinson and Zenith Watches have produced just 30 of the special edition Zenith Pilot watches.

Jonathan Turner, CEO of the Bayford Group, said: “Robert Blackburn was an amazing pioneer whose achievements include founding an aircraft manufacturing company that became part of Hawker Siddeley and, later, British Aerospace and the restoration epitomises design excellence.

“It’s tremendous that this historical trophy which boats a wealth of rich history will be prominently displayed in the Blackburn Wing to be enjoyed by generations to come.”