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Hubert Scott-Paine

Speed in the air and on the water
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Speed in the air and on the water

Born in 1891 in Sussex, Hubert Scott-Paine had an early enthusiasm for aviation and went up on his first flight in 1909. It was in his hometown of Shoreham that he met Noel Pemberton-Billing.  By 1913 he had moved to Southampton to manage the marine aircraft factory that Pemberton-Billing had set up there, taking overall control of the company the following year.  In 1916 he hired the young R.J. Mitchell as his personal assistant and it wasn’t long before he recognised the young man’s talents, promoting him rapidly to chief engineer and designer.   Scott-Paine’s interest in speed was influential in Supermarine entering and winning the 1922 Schneider Trophy for Britain.  Through his efforts he turned the small company into a success with a big reputation. 

In 1923 he sold his interest and became a director of the first international airline – Imperial Airways, but it wasn’t long before his passion for speed, this time on water, led him to found the British Powerboat Company (BPC) in 1927.  Racing the powerboats himself, he became the first person to achieve in excess of 100mph on salt water in a single engined craft.  Scott-Paine battled before the outbreak of World War Two (1939-1945) to get the Admiralty to accept his new boat designs.  Working closely with him during this time was T.E. Shaw (Lawrence of Arabia), who as Aircraftsman Shaw has been seconded to the BPC after working on the 1929 Schneider Trophy race.   

Once war was declared Scott-Paine went to America to search for higher-powered engines, to use in the motor torpedo- and gunboats that BPC was producing for the Admiralty and fast air-sea rescue boats for the RAF. 

By 1937 BPC had become the largest and most advanced boat-building establishment in the world. It employed, by April 1942, over 1500 employees at Hythe and a further 500 at Poole. This made the British Power Boat Company the most sophisticated boat-building production establishment of the Second World War.

Scott-Paine kept close touch with the company until it closed in 1945 but stayed in America, where he continued to develop boat designs for the U.S market. In 1948 he took American citizenship.  Sadly his health wasn’t good and after his first stroke in the late 40s it continued to decline until his death in 1954.  Hubert Scott-Paine realised Pemberton-Billing’s vision with the Supermarine factory. He was both an important figure in British marine aviation and a pioneer of high-speed motorboats. 


1891Born in Shoreham, Sussex.
1911Met Noel Pemberton-Billing in 1911 whilst still living in Shoreham and began work to work with him and moved to Southampton.
1916Took over from Noel Pemberton-Billing at Supermarine and hired R. J. Mitchell.

Married a Southampton local girl and lived in Bitterne.
1919Developed passenger carrying civil flying boats.
1920'sSupermarine expanded with foreign and domestic orders.
1922 Registered B.M.A.N.C and established a regular service to France and the Channel Islands.
1923Sold his interest in Supermarine to Col. James Bird for £192,000
1924    Became a director of Imperial Airways into which his company BMANC was incorporated.
1927Founded British Power Boat Company and focused on producing and racing high speed motor boats.
1930Developed new designs of fast launches for the Air Ministry.

(T.E. Shaw “Lawrence of Arabia” was involved in the test projects and persuading the Air Ministry to accept the designs)
1939Travelled to America to seek higher-powered engines, and stayed to produce boats for the US & Canadian Navy's. 

The boatyard in Hythe was busy throughout the war producing motor torpedo boats, gunboats and fast air-sea rescue boats for the RAF.
1945British Power Boat Company closed, Scott-Paine stayed in America.
1946Married for the second time to his secretary.
1947Took American citizenship but his later years were dogged by ill health.
1954Died in America at the age of 63.
Speed in the air and on the water
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