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Collection in focus-Marcus Manton

As we begin a series of blogs looking at specific collections held within the RAF Museum’s Archive, our focus is on the papers of Marcus Dyce Manton. 

Group of documents: Some of the documents to be found within the Manton papers (AC70/2)

The collection offers a good insight into the early days of flight in the United Kingdom and shows the popularity of exhibition flying. It also highlights the history of Hendon aerodrome, home of the RAF Museum’s London site; both as a venue for the air-displays which took place there during the 1910s and as a First World War centre for flying training. The papers also provide the story of Manton’s life and connect with other material held by the Museum. In this blog we introduce the man and his collection.

Marcus Dyce Manton
Marcus Dyce Manton was born in Sheffield on 14 September 1893 to Dr John Manton and Ernestine Manton née Gradesky-Graham. 

An engineering apprentice, Manton learnt to fly with the Grahame-White School at Hendon. He qualified on 4 June 1912, aged just 19. He featured in many of the competitions at Hendon during the 1912 and 1913 seasons. He was soon employed as an exhibition pilot and flying instructor earning the nick-names – the ‘Boy Airman’ and ‘Boy Aviator’. 

Manton on postcard: Marcus Manton – the wonderful Boy Aviator (AC70/2/4/1)

During the First World War Manton continued working as a test pilot and flying instructor. On 11 December 1915 he married Mrs Ruby Marguerite Paramor née Goodwin. 

After the war Manton worked with a number of commercial companies including English Electric Company. He subsequently became their chief inspector at Lytham. During the Second World War he was a service liaison officer with Armstrong Whitworth Aircraft Company and post-war he worked with Hawker Siddeley Aircraft Company. Marcus Dyce Manton died on 15 April 1968.

The collection
During the 1970s the RAF Museum received the Manton papers.  It has been arranged into four series of records. 

There are items which reflect Manton’s involvement with the early years of flight in the UK. They highlight the celebrity which surrounded the aviators taking part in public displays. These include postcards, programmes and souvenir items.

Postcard:  Souvenir postcard (AC70/2/1/1)

Display programme: Official programme for the London Aerodrome, with Manton featured on the cover, July 1913 (AC70/2/1/2)

A number of documents relate to Manton’s First World War experience as an instructor and test pilot.

Permit book: Defence of the Realm permit book issued to Manton, 16 March 1917 (AC70/2/2/3)

RNAS pass: Royal Naval Air Service Pass issued to Manton, 13 April 1917 (AC70/2/2/4)

Manton obviously enjoyed collecting press cuttings. He kept these in a number of exercise books. Topics include the flying taking place at Hendon as well as the different types of flights Manton was involved in. 

Exercise book: Exercise book containing press cuttings relating to flying at Hendon (AC70/2/3/1)

Within the collection there are some photographs and a photograph album. These offer a visual record of many aspects of Manton’s life. Quite a few of the photographs show the men who Manton taught to fly. He obviously followed their subsequent service and flying careers. Poignantly the collection contains his notes concerning their successes and fates.  

Watson photo: Manton’s pupil Kenneth F. Watson showing annotated page (AC70/2/4/2)

In future blogs we will be exploring aspects of Manton’s life and the collection further. We will also look at the connections to be found with other material held within the Museum’s collections.

Nina Hadaway : Curator of Documents
About the Author

Nina Hadaway : Curator of Documents

As Archive, Library and Research Manager I manage the Archive and Library at the RAF Museum’s London site. The Department looks after the Archive and Library collections; working to preserve them as well as making them available to researchers. It also runs the Museum’s main enquiry service. My job is fascinating; we are always learning new things and enabling others to do so too.

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