Sir Arthur Marshall

A history of Sir Arthur Marshall

Sir Arthur was educated at the Perse School for Boys, Tonbridge School, and at Jesus College, Cambridge where he obtained a first class degree in Engineering. Whilst at Cambridge, he also gained a Running Blue for the Quarter Mile and was subsequently selected as a member of the British team in the 1924 ‘Chariots of Fire’ Olympic Games in Paris. He learned to fly, gaining his Pilot’s Licence in 1928 and, in 1929, he and his father purchased their first aircraft, a de Havilland Gypsy Moth. Arthur Marshall combined his engineering skills in the family garage business with flying instruction at the first Cambridge Airport which he and his father opened in 1929. An expansion of the aviation business led to the purchase of land just outside Cambridge on which the present Cambridge Airport was developed in 1935.

Arthur Marshall’s flying training methods resulted in the Company’s Elementary Flying Training Schools becoming the most productive in the country and, these schools, based at Oxford and Cambridge before the Second World War and at Cliffe Pypard during the war, trained over 20,000 pilots and Instructors for the Royal Air Force. Sir Arthur Marshall also personally test flew a large number of the 5,000 different aircraft which were repaired, modified and overhauled at Cambridge during the course of the Second World War as part of Lord Nuffield’s Civilian Repair Organisation. Arthur Marshall became Chairman of the Company on his father’s death in 1942 and, remained in this position for the following 48 years, until his retirement in 1989.

It was Sir Arthur Marshall’s thirst for technology which led his aerospace company into developing a world class Aircraft Design Office which was supported by in-house manufacturing facilities and enabled the Company to develop its strong links with all the major aircraft manufacturing companies. Sir Arthur Marshall also established a Vehicle Building Division following the Second World War which grew to become a substantial Vehicle Body and Bus building company which designed and built over 80% of the soft skinned and advanced technological vehicles for the Ministry of Defence. Both companies remain at the forefront of advancing technology in their own fields.

Throughout his working life, Sir Arthur Marshall provided strong support to the UK aviation industry. This support involved many Associations including the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators, for which he became a Liveryman in 1958, The Air League, in which he was made a Companion in 1967, the Royal Aeronautical Society in which he was made a Companion in 1980 and the Council of the Cranfield Institute of Technology with whom he received an Honorary Doctorate of Science in 1992 in recognition of his great personal contribution to British Aeronautical Engineering. He also maintained particularly close links with Cambridge University, being particularly proud of the technology and employment he, and his company, have provided to Cambridge for over 90 years which predates the ‘Cambridge Phenomena’. Sir Arthur Marshall was knighted in 1974 for his services to the Aircraft Industry and, subsequently, was awarded an Honorary Law Degree from Cambridge University in 1996