James Radley
James Radley
from Library of Congress, 7-13-08

James Radley
by Andrew Dawrant, 9 November, 2009
He was born 9 February 1884 at Dunmow Hall.

The birth certificate places Dunmow Hall at Newton, whereas the birth was registered in the sub-district of Slaidburn in the district of Clitheroe. In fact, from the map, Dunmow Hall is almost exactly half-way between Newton and Clitheroe.

On 25 October 1910, James Radley won the cross-country aviation race at Belmont Park, New York, as part of a successful "barnstorming" tour across America. He had travelled to New York in late September aboard SS "Oceania" with his friend and colleague William Rhodes-Moorhouse and his business manager Reginald Hope. They returned to the UK the following February aboard SS "Lusitania".

From the passenger records, we learn that James was aged 27. Working with a birth year of 1883 (+ or -), together with other known information about his life, it is then relatively straightforward to construct James's family tree and trace the family through the census records from 1841 through 1901.

James Radley's father was also James Radley, a wealthy colliery owner in Lancashire who married late in life to Fanny Prescott nee Coulton. Their wedding was registered in Ormskirk in the first quarter (Q1) of 1878, and the birth of their first child, Honoria Coulton, was registered in Clitheroe in Q3 1880.

In the 1881 census, James Radley (senior) was living in Rainhill, where he was described as a colliery owner employing 300-400 persons. He also owned a 60-acre farm, and ran a substantial home at Dunnow Hall at Slaidburn, near Clitheroe. Here lived his family, including relatives from both the Radley and Coulton sides of the family.

James Radley (junior) was probably born at home there, because his birth was registered in Clitheroe in Q1 1884. Sadly, James (senior) died the following year (registered in Prescot in Q2 1885), leaving Fanny to bring up two young children on her own.

James's subsequent life and exploits from about 1908-1918 are well documented. However, very little is known about him after that time.

James died on 5 March 1959 at his home in Woodgreen, Hampshire. This is in an attractive area of the UK known as the New Forest. James was "of Private Means" which meant he was independently wealthy. He was reportedly 76 when he died. This is slightly at variance with his date of birth, but this is not unusual.

Editor's Note: Mr. Dawrant is a part-time volunteer for the Royal Aero Club Trust I suggest that you visit their site and take advantage of the many resources which are available.

via email from Dave Lam, 7-18-08-08
James Radley earned UK license #12 on 6/14/10 in a Bleriot.

James Radley
James Radley
In New York - September 30, 1910
Library of Congress, 7-13-08

James Radley
Monjau - Audemars - Radley - Moissant - Aubrun - Simon
Edmond Audemars - John Moissant
Emile Aubrun - René Simon
Library of Congress, 7-13-08

     If you search for "James Radley" +aviation, using the Google search engine, (7-15-08), you will find about 280 links. Most of them repeat his participation in various races of the era. I couldn't find any information regarding his life experiences. You will also find numerous mentions of his name on this website itself. You can use the search function on the front page to locate them A good place to start on the net is on the website cited below.

The Past of Portholme
     The importance of Portholme in the story of James Radley can be understood by reading the following extracts from the complete article:

"Portholme is, of course, famous as the largest meadow in England - very large and uncommonly flat."

     It is for that reason that it became a center for aviation beginning in the early 1900's.

"19 April 1910 was a great day locally. This was the day that James Radley made the first ever flight from Portholme and virtually the whole of Godmanchester and Huntingdon turned out to watch. He flew circuits of the meadow - 16 miles in 23 minutes in a Bleriot monoplane to the cheers of the spectators. Subsequently the crowds flocked to see other early aviators trying out the flying machines here.

     To read the rest of this fascinating story, just click on the title above.

James died on 5 March 1959 at his home in Woodgreen, Hampshire.

Editor's Note:
If you have any more information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

BackNext Home