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Canopus Flying Boat – Steering Column

The only known surviving part from the aircraft Canopus, an ‘Empire Class’ flying boat built by Short Brothers of Rochester in 1936.


Until recently, this item was part of the fittings of a pub in Borstal.

The Canopus was the prototype for the famous C-Class flying boats built by Short Brothers of Rochester. These were the world’s first international passenger carrying aircraft. The Canopus flew a remarkable 2 million miles over its ten year working life.

Guildhall Museum, Rochester

Guildhall Museum,
17 High St,
ME1 1PY,
United Kingdom


The Heritage Service was alerted to the pub’s closure by concerned aviation enthusiasts across the country and subsequently acquired the control column, which pilots used to steer this aircraft across the world for over two million miles between 1936-46! Short Brothers were aviation pioneers and amongst the very first aircraft manufacturers.

Curriculum Links

  • KS1: Local History
  • KS2: Local History
  • KS3: Local History, Britain 1901- Present Day, Forces


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