Grace's Guide

British Industrial History

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Samuel Instone

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Sir Samuel Instone (1878-1937) was a shipping and aviation entrepreneur and the founder of the Instone Air Line.

1878 Born in Gravesend, Kent, he came to Cardiff in Wales in 1908 to work for a shipping company as a manager. With his brother, Theodore Instone, he went into business as a coal factor in 1908, and in 1914 bought the ship, Collivaud from Morels.

After World War I, the brothers owned ten vessels shipping coal from the South Wales valleys. It was during this period that Samuel diversified into coal mining with the acquisition of the Bedwas Colliery.

In 1919 Instone Air Line was set up by Samuel along with another brother Alfred Instone, and started an air route from Cardiff to Paris. Due to the depression of the 1920s Samuel saw his shipping interests wane, and by 1925 the last of his ships were sold.

Instone was constantly at the front of commercial and technological trends within the aviation business. On August 19, 1920, Sir Samuel Instone had a telephone conversation from his home in London to a passenger on a flight destined for Paris. This call to a Vickers aeroplane is thought to be the first telephone call to an in-flight aircraft. He also introduced uniforms for his flight crews, the first non-military air service to do so.

In 1921 Samuel was knighted, and as Sir Samuel Instone he represented the Chamber of Shipping at Air Conferences in England and the International Chamber of Commerce at the League of Nations, Geneva.

In 1922, Frank L. Barnard, chief pilot of Instone Air Line won the first King's Cup Race. Sir Instone took the trophy with him on a visit to Bedwas Colliery, and it was allowed to be displayed in a local shop's window.

As an act of public service, Samuel Instone and his brother Theodore once offered to hire Harry Grindell Matthews in order to keep his reported death ray in the United Kingdom

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