Miss Fidelia Josephine Crossley

   in 1930, aged 25

 0751-0055a Delia Crossley     0370-0014a - Delia Crossley      0312-0097a - Fidelia in KC

  At Combermere Abbey in 1932

'Delia', born 1st June, 1905, the daughter of Sir Kenneth Irwin, 2nd Baronet Crossley, Chairman of the Crossley Car and Engineering companies in Manchester.

In 1919, the Crossley family moved to Combermere Abbey, Whitchurch, Shropshire and her father held the offices of High Sheriff and Justice of the Peace for Cheshire. These days, although it continues in private ownership, Combermere Abbey ‘welcomes visitors in groups or on specific days by appointment’. It has been described as ‘one of the most romantic places in Europe’ .

Gained her pilot’s licence in 1930. She only competed in the King’s Cup once - in 1931, when she was the only woman competitor to finish, a gallant 20th out of the 21 finishers (another 20 dropped out on the way, don't forget).

August 1931 found her in Dublin; "Among the visitors was one who deserved especial mention, and that was the intrepid Miss Crossley, who put up such a fine show in the recent King's Cup race. She flew the long way round, and is now continuing to tour the country."

In 1932, she visited India, where "we hear she has been doing a considerable amount of flying." In fact, she competed in the Viceroy Cup (India's version of the King's Cup) with 5 other English pilots and 6 from India.

She also competed in several other races and gatherings, e.g.

  • Ladies event at Reading (May, 1931) - the other competitors were Amy Johnson, Pauline Gower, Dorothy Spicer, Gabrielle Burr (Patterson), Susan Slade, and Winifred Spooner - a historic gathering indeed.

  • London-Newcastle, August 1932, in Comper Swift G-ABUA; finished 11th of 18
  • Yorkshire Tophy Race, September 1932 (not placed);
  • Heston-Cardiff, October 1932, also in Comper Swift G-ABUA; finished 3rd of 9
  • the second 'Bienvenue Aerienne' in France (July 1934)

0370-0005a - C Grey Delia Connie

0370-0029a - Delia and friend

Delia with C C Grey (editor of 'The Aeroplane'), Mrs Grey, Connie Leathart and others.

 She also entered her Comper Swift in the 1932 King's Cup Race, but withdrew before the start, and seems to have retired from air racing in 1935.

On the outbreak of WWII, Delia became an ambulance driver for the London County Council, but then applied for a job as a ferry pilot for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA).

Air Transport Auxiliary in WWII

She married Geza O Schubert in September 1949.

0022-0001a - G-AAKC

Fidelia’s de Havilland D.H. 60G Gipsy Moth G-AAKC (seen here behind G-AACY) was first registered in July 1929, and she bought it from Malcolm Campbell Ltd, the Moth distributors for the UK. She eventually passed it to her father, and it was then sold in South Africa in 1937.

Her Comper Swift was first registered in February 1932 to  J D M Gray, and she sold it to Arthur H Cook. It ended up in Indonesia.


... and there's a splendid page about 'Combermere's Pioneering Aviatrix Delia Crossley' here, written by the archivist at Combermere Abbey.

 

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