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M.L. Aviation

The origins of M. L. Aviation began during the mid 1930s with two separate companies, mainely Wrightson Aircraft Sales (formed May 34). The name was changed to Malcolm and Farquharson (formed May 36) and again changed to R. Malcolm Company (founded in Dec 36). Malcolm & Farquharson became a holding company in December 1939 with aircraft product work carried out by R. Malcolm. About this time, Marcel Lobelle, who had been Chief Designer of Fairey Aviation joined the company. He had designed many Fairey aircraft including the Swordfish.

At the beginning of WW2, both Malcolm & Farquharson and R. Malcolm suffered financial problems and turned to the Mobbs family for assistance. During 1940, control of both companies was taken over by the Mobbs through United Motor Finance Corporation.

Under Marcel Lobelle, a drawing office was opened on the Slough Trading Estate (owned by the Mobbs family) with rapidly expanding work for the Ministry of Aircraft Production. To allow for expansion the drawing office and experimental work was moved to White Waltham, leaving production on the Slough Trading Estate and still under the name of R. Malcolm. An additional firing site was also established on the airfield perimeter for development work.

In 1943, Malcolm & Farquharson's services were dispensed with and control was taken over by Eric Mobbs as Managing Director and Marcel Lobelle as Chief Designer. The company continued to trade under the name of R. Malcolm. Finally in October 1946 the name was changed to M. L. Aviation for the White Waltham site and M. L. Engineering at Slough, the initials presumably being taken from the leading figure heads.

Spurred on by the advent of the Cold War the company expanded rapidly from the 1950s with a considerable work force of Design Engineers designing and manufacturing a large range of aviation products.

Expansion required further finance and in 1958 M. L. went public through the creation on M. L. Holdings. Subsequently the Holding Company diversified with non-aerospace business introducing further finance and therefore gradually reducing the influence of the Mobbs family

The 1980s saw the reducing aerospace industry having considerable impact on MLA with an ever diminishing workforce until in 1990 the Holdings Board, having recently brought Wallop Industries based in Andover, deciding to merge and sell the White Waltham site. The move was completed by early 1991, leaving the Airfield test site still operating. The White Waltham site was eventually sold in 1996.

In mid 1996, the Holding Board acquired the remains of arch rivals Fraser Nash and merged it with MLA producing a formidable aircraft equipment company which should have augured well for the future.

M. L. (Engineering) in Slough finally moved to Andover in early 1997 enabling design and production to join under one roof, thereby almost severing links with Berkshire.

Finally Cobham plc acquired M. L. Aviation & Marine for £37 million.




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