The 1912 tour by Henri Salmet - UK Airfield Guide

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The 1912 tour by Henri Salmet

Postcard 1912
Postcard 1912

Note:  Our thanks go to Mr Dave Hill for kindly sending this scan of a postcard produced in Falmouth at the time Henri Salmet was visiting the town in 1912. It appears he actually went to the publishers to see it being laid out and printed.  

Aviators Certificate
Aviators Certificate

We have Mike Holder to thank for finding this copy of Henri Salmets British Aviators Certificate, issued after he had passed his test at HENDON on the 27th June 1911. Salmet had already gained considerable flying experience in France. 

We have Mr Michael T Holder, a great friend of this 'Guide' to thank for doing the research into this tour by Salmet in 1912. The result is, without much doubt, unique to this 'Guide' and of much interest to those seeking to learn more about our early aviation history. We need to remember that from the earliest days the Daily Mail newspaper was a champion of aviation, and had also sponsored the equally famous British aviator Claude Grahame-White, to conduct another tour that year, called 'Wake Up England!" 

Introduction in <em>Flight</em> magazine
Introduction in Flight magazine

Note:  This article, published in Flight magazine on the 18th May 1912, to coincide with Henri Salmet's departure from WORMWOOD SCRUBBS, tells of the initial plans for this Tour. Remarkably, especially in the early stages, Salmet appears to have been able to adhere to the original schedule.  

Wherever Salmet went he was féted as a hero, something very much like a 'super-star' in modern terms. Thousands turned out to watch his dislays. Usually he managed to land to be greeted, but on a few occassions the winds were too strong, so he decided to do an aerial display for the assembled crowds. We do of course need to remember that in 1912 fixed-wing aviation was still in its infancy. Their machines, (they were usually called 'machines' in those days), were really quite fragile, underpowered with unreliable engines, and the pilot sat up exposed to the elements. They had no instruments and navigation was very much a hit and miss affair. There were virtually no aerodromes along the route Salmet used, his main reference being to spot a field with a large crowd of people assembled in it! This said, normally marked with a large white cross in the area selected for him to land on. 

What appears to be Salmet's major claim to fame, not usually recognised - even at the time, was that he actually flew the entire route throughout England. (Or so it appears?) Mostly, other equally famous aviators, such as the much féted Gustav Hamel, sometimes flew between venues if fairly close together, but otherwise had their machine transported by rail for most of the distance, then by road to the venue to be assembled.

That he generally managed so well to find his intended venues, speaks volumes for his ability, without a map or compass, to determine the route he intended to take. Presumably he studied maps in great detail before taking off, and committed the main points along the way to memory?

Mike Holder has identified the 60 individual venues for this Tour of England by Salmet. Three were visited twice, which is why the total of venues in England numbers 64. The maps and notes are given below. It must also be mentioned that, as of April 2022, many of these venues are listed within the 'Guide' with much more detail. And the many of the rest will be added eventually. 

<strong>THE SCHEDULE AND VENUES</strong>  Part One

<strong>ROUTE MAP ONE</strong>
Progress report <em>Flight</em> magazine 25th May
Progress report Flight magazine 25th May


WORMWOOD SCRUBS to NEWPORT  From the 16th May to the 22nd May.  


Venue No.2:  TAPLOW 16th May   (See TAPLOW)

Venue No.3:  READING  16th & 17th May  (See KING'S MEAD)


Venue No.5:  BATH  17th & 18th May    (See NEWTON St LOE)

Venue No.6:  BRISTOL   18th to 22nd May   (See MANGOTSFIELD)

Venue No.7:  NEWPORT  22nd May   (See GAER FACH)

<strong>ROUTE MAP TWO</strong>
Progress report <em>Flight</em> magazine 1st July
Progress report Flight magazine 1st July


NEWPORT to LLANELLI   From the 22nd May to the 29th May

Venue No.8:  CARDIFF  22nd to 24th May    (See SOPHIA GARDENS)

Venue No.9   SWANSEA  24th to 25th May   (See PORT TENNANT BOG)

Venue No.10  LLANELLI  25th to 29th May   (See STRADEY PARK) 

<strong>ROUTE MAP THREE</strong>


LLANELLI to EXETER   From the 29th May to the 5th June

By this stage, Salmet was already proving himself to be a quite extraordinary pilot, and to achieve this really was quite a feat in those days. But, of course, we must remember that earlier this year, he had achieved a non-stop flight from HENDON to Paris on the 7th March.     

Venue No.11   THE MUMBLES   29th May    (Flying 'exhibition' only - did not land)

Venue No.12   WESTON-super-MARE   29th May    (Flying 'exhibition' only - did not land)

Venue No.13   BRIDGEWATER   29th May    (Flying 'exhibition' only - did not land)

Venue No.14   TAUNTON   29th to 1st June   (See HALCON CORNER)

Venue No.15   CHARD   30th May   (A seperate side trip from TAUNTON)
                                                         (See SNOWDON HEIGHTS)

 Newspaper article
Newspaper article

Trying to determine the exact details of Salmet's tour can be very fraught. Take this article from the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette published on the 1st June 1912. In which it states that Salmet will be arriving from Wellington. Without any doubt he did not land here, but overflew the town en route from Taunton. 


Venue No.16   EXETER   1st to 5th June  (See TOPSHAM BARRACK FIELD)


Newspaper article
Newspaper article

This article was published in the Exmouth Journal on the 8th June 1912. 

Today it seems astonishing that Henri Salmet achieved as much as he did on this tour. Although with the backing of the Daily Mail, he nevertheless had to face numerous problems - not least English summer weather. This being a typical example when a promised visit to Exmouth was defeated by heavy rain. In those days heavy rain really was a major problem for those early aviators. In no particular order, sitting up high and exposed to the elements, even wearing goggles, heavy rain rendered them almost blind. It could also seriously damage their wooden propellers and had very detrimental effects on their skimpy cloth covered wings and other flying surfaces. 

<strong>THE SCHEDULE AND VENUES</strong>  Part Two

<strong>ROUTE MAP FOUR</strong>
Progress report <em>Flight</em> magazine 15th June
Progress report Flight magazine 15th June


EXETER to LAUNCESTON    From the 5th June to the 12th June



Venue No.18   BARNSTAPLE   5th to 8th June   (See MR COPP'S FIELD)

Venue No.19   WESTWARD HO!   8th June to 10th June   (See WESTWARD HO!)

Venue No.20   BUDE   10th to 11th June   (See BUDE FLYING SITES)

Venue No.21   LAUNCESTON   11th to 12th June   (See SHEER'S BARTON)

<strong>ROUTE MAP FIVE</strong>
Progress report from <em>Flight </em>magazine 29th June
Progress report from Flight magazine 29th June


LAUNCESTON to LISKEARD   From the 12th June to the 22nd June


Venue No.22   NEWQUAY   12th to 13th June   (See NEWQUAY FLYING SITES)

Venue No.23   TRURO   13th to 14th June   (See TOLGARRICK FARM)

Venue No.24   FALMOUTH   14th to 18th June   (See MR DALE'S MEADOW)

Venue No.25   FOWEY   18th to 19th June   (See FOWEY 2 VENUES 1912)

Venue No.26   St AUSTELL   18th June   (See ROCKY PARC)

Venue No.27   LANDRAKE   19th June   (See LANDRAKE)

Venue No.28   LISKEARD   19th to 22nd June   (See TENCREEK FARM)

Salmet certainly did zig and zag around quite a bit during this Tour. Weather was obviously a major problem, but also, although remarkably reliable in those days, his engine sometimes needed major attention. Quite how all this was managed seems to remain something of a mystery today. He did have at least one mechanic to aid his progress, and presumably the Daily Mail provided back-up for the public-relations aspects and publicity.     

<strong>THE SCHEDULE AND VENUES</strong>   Part Three

<strong>ROUTE MAP SIX</strong>


LISKEARD to CARDIFF from the 22nd June to the 18th July

Venue No.29   TAUNTON   22nd to 24th June    (Second visit - see HALCON CORNER)

Newspaper article
Newspaper article

The only mention of this visit to Weston-super-Mare found so far was published in the Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette on the 29th June 1912. We do not know the location of the venue. Can anybody kindly offer advice?


Venue No.30   WESTON-super-MARE  24th to 26th June   (Second visit) 


Venue No.31   CARDIFF   26th June to 18th July    (Second visit)   (See SOPHIA GARDENS)

Article in <em>The Aeroplane</em>
Article in The Aeroplane

I had assumed that by this time in his Tour Salmet deserved a decent holiday. But, not at all, the true story is quite remarkable, and the article found by Mike Holder only tells part of it. As it says, on arriving in CARDIFF, Salmet became very ill and returned to London. The cause of his illness resulting in an operation for appendicitis - in those days a very serious surgical operation.

Indeed, as is said in the article, they expected Salmet to be recuperating for some weeks. Without any doubt, as demonstrated by his previous exploits, Salmet had extraordinary stamina and physical strength, and, just around three weeks later he was back in CARDIFF to resume the Tour. Without much doubt, having many thousands of people still eagerly awaiting his arrival must have strengthened his resolve to get going again. But, he must most certainly have been in a weakened condition physically, which without much if any doubt, explains why he fell ill again, having to terminate this Tour at BARROW-in-FURNESS in August. 

<strong>SCHEDULES AND VENUES</strong>  Part Four

<strong>ROUTE MAP SEVEN</strong>
Progress report from<em> Flight</em> magazine 3rd August
Progress report from Flight magazine 3rd August


CARDIFF to SWINDON  18th July to 29th July 

Venue No.31   RAGLAN  18th to 19th July   (See RAGLAN 1912)

Venue No.32   ROSS-on-WYE   19th to 20th July  (See ROSS-on-WYE GOLF LINKS)

Venue No.33   HEREFORD   20th to 22nd July  (HEREFORD RACE COURSE)

Weather diversion:   BROADHEATH   22nd July    (See BROADHEATH)

Venue No.34   WORCESTER   22nd to 24th July    (See PITCHCROFT)

Venue No.35   EVESHAM   24th July     (See LONG MEADOW)

Venue No.36   STRATFORD-upon- AVON   24th and 25th July  (See STRATFORD-upon-AVON RECREATION GROUND)

Venue No.37   GLOUCESTER   25th July   (See PORT HAM)

Venue No.38   CHELTENHAM   25th July   (See LECKHAMPTON)


Venue No.40   SWINDON   27th to 29th July   (See PIPER'S CORNER)

It is of course rather interesting to see that Salmet only made fleeting visits to Gloucester and Cheltenham, but appears to have regarded Cirencester, and indeed Swindon, as deserving of more significant visits - spending more time at both these places. His sponsor, the Daily Mail, would have been very aware that Gloucester and Cheltenham were both far more important locations. So, can this be explained?

<strong>SCHEDULES AND VENUES </strong> Part Five

<strong>ROUTE MAP EIGHT</strong>


SWINDON to GRAVESEND   30th July to 13th August

Venue No.41   NORTHAMPTON   30th July to 1st August   (See NORTHAMPTON RACECOURSE)

Venue No.42   COLCHESTER   1st August to 3rd August    (See BERGHOLT ROAD)

Venue No.43   SOUTHEND   3rd August to 7th August    (See PRIORY FARM MEADOW)

Venue No.44   CLACTON   8th August to 10th August    (See CLACTON-on-SEA flying sites)

Venue No.45   IPSWICH   10th August to 12th August   (See GIPPESWYK HALL FARM)

Venue No.46   GRAVESEND   12th and 13th August    (See MILTON HALL)    

<strong>ROUTE MAP NINE</strong>
Progress report in<em> Flight</em> PART ONE
Progress report in Flight PART ONE
Progress report in <em>Flight </em>PART TWO
Progress report in Flight PART TWO


GRAVESEND to SHOREHAM:  13th August to 21st August

Venue No.47:  HERNE BAY   13th August   (See UNDERDOWN FARM)

Venue No.48:  BROADSTAIRS   13th  to 15th August   (See CALLIS GRANGE FARM)

Venue No.49:  WHITSTABLE   15th August    (See POUT'S FARM)

Venue No.50:  FOLKESTONE   15th to 17th August   (see BROADMEAD FARM)

Venue No.51:  SHOREHAM   17th to 21st August     (See SHOREHAM)


<strong>ROUTE MAP TEN</strong>


SHOREHAM to SOUTHAMPTON   21st August to 24th August

Venue No.52:  EAST PRESTON   21st and 22nd August   (See my article - "A TROUBLOUS JOURNEY")

Venue No.53:  GOSPORT   22nd August   (See my article - "A TROUBLOUS JOURNEY")

Venue No.54:   SOUTHSEA   22nd August  (See SOUTHSEA COMMON)

Venue No.55:  SOUTHAMPTON   22nd to 24th August   (See SOUTHAMPTON COMMON)

Being in August, and especially towards the end of that month, Salmet had to cope with traditional English summer weather. Always at its worst normally and by tradition arranged to coincide with when most people went on their holidays. As a young lad in the early fifties, I can testify to this. A seperate account of this stage in the Tour has been included in the article in this 'Guide';  A Troublous Journey. A most appropriate term used by a reporter in those days. 


<strong>SCHEDULES AND VENUES</strong> Part Six

<strong>ROUTE MAP ELEVEN</strong>
Progress report from <em>Flight </em>magazine 31st August
Progress report from Flight magazine 31st August


LEAMINGTON SPA to CHESTER   24th August to 29th August

Venue No.56:  LEAMINGTON SPA   24th to 26th August   (See OLD FOOTBALL GROUND)

Venue No.57:   BERKESWELL   26th and 27th August    (See BERKSWELL)

Venue No.58:  BURTON-upon-TRENT   27th and 28th August   (See BURTON-upon-TRENT flying sites)

Venue No.59:  CHESTER   28th and 29th August   (See FROG FARM)


<strong>ROUTE MAP TWELVE</strong>
Progress report from <em>Flight </em>magazine 7th September
Progress report from Flight magazine 7th September


CHESTER to BARROW-in-FURNESS    28th August to 31st August

Venue No.60:  NEW BRIGHTON   29th August   (See also RED NOSES)

Venue No.61:  PRESTON   29th to 31st August   (See MOOR PARK)

Venue No.62:  ULVERSTON   31st August   (See ULVERSTON)

Venue No.63:  BARROW-in-FURNESS   31st August    (See also FURNESS ABBEY)

When he reached Barrow-in-Furnace, Salmet was again too ill to continue and returned to London, saying that he intended to resume the tour later on in Ireland. Which he did! The purpose of this article is of course to chart his progress across much of England and Wales. But, Mike Holder has identified a few venues in Ireland. What we don't know is what happened to his aeroplane after he left Barrow-in-Furnace? Presumably it was dismantled and shipped across to Ireland.

What we need to remember of course is that in 1912 Ireland was still part of the United Kingdom. Indeed, it did not become independent until 1922, as the Irish Free State. The Republic of Ireland, (Éire), as we know it today, wasn't formed until 1948.

In effect, his visit to Ireland constituted a seperate phase for Salmet in 1912. So therefore does not come into the scope of this article. The main distinguishing feature being that in the first tour Salmet flew between all the venues. However, some more information can be found in the BALMORAL listing.



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