MARSHALL OF CAMBRIDGE CELEBRATES 100 YEARS
By Julian Nettlefold
18 Sep 09. It was a week to celebrate birthdays in the engineering industry. After the excellent GKN prty on Thursday night, the Editor travelled to Cambridge to celebrate Marshall of Cambridge’s 100th Birthday hosted in excellent style by Natasha Kaplinski. The Editor’s evening was made by meeting up with ex-Marshall marketing guru, John Arnold, whom he had not seen for 22 years. John joined the Company on August 23rd 1947, one of many long-serving employees at the event. One family had a total of 217 years under its belt of family service to the Company.
At a time when similar sized quoted companies are grappling with the three-pronged attacks of a looming recession, problems with obtaining funding and the spiralling costs of debt to keep stock market ratings, Marshall has none of those problems. Not only is it privately owned, it has the size, strength and diversity to weather a recession and to grow through either organic growth or acquisition and crucially the Company is debt free. It is the third largest privately owned industrial company in the U.K.
It is worth looking at the history of Marshall of Cambridge to understand how this position of strength has been obtained through these 100 years.
Marshall of Cambridge History
Marshall of Cambridge was founded by David Gregory Marshall on 1st October 1909 in a small lock-up premises in Brunswick Gardens, Cambridge, as a chauffeur drive company for Cambridge University in particular.
During the First World War, the chauffeur business continued, and the garage premises, which had relocated to Jesus Lane were used to help with servicing and maintenance of Army ambulances.
In 1921, Marshall became the first Austin distributorship for Cambridgeshire. Marshall entered the aviation business in 1929, opening its first, and small, airfield on what is now the Whitehill housing estate, providing flying training on de Havilland Gipsy Moth aircraft to local people which particularly included members of Cambridge University. Moving to the present airfield in 1937, the Company quickly became involved in teaching RAF pilots to fly and, during the course of the Second World War trained over 20,000 pilots; one sixth of the total number trained for the Royal Air Force.
The Company strengthened its flying training skills by the establishment in 1938 of an ‘ab initio’ flying instructor training scheme which enabled young men without previous flying experience to learn to fly and become flying instructors within a 14 week period. This scheme, which was an immediate success, was universally adopted by the Royal Air Force in 1941 and continues to this day.
During the Second World War, Marshall became involved with Lord Nuffield’s Civilian Repair Organisation carrying out modification, repair and maintenance work on over 5,000 aircraft in support of the war effort.
David Marshall’s son, Arthur, now later Sir Arthur Marshall, who was educated at Tunbridge School and Jesus College, Cambridge where he gained a First Class Degree in Engineering, took over the running of the Company in 1942 upon the death of his father. As the result of the aircraft skills developed during the Second World War and, with the development of its own Aircraft Design Office and in-house manufacturing, post war the aerospace company became a natural sub-contractor to all the aircraft manufacturing companies in the United Kingdom.
In 1960, the Company began its strong links with the North American aircraft industry when it became the first Gulfstream Service Centre outside the USA. These US links were strengthened in 1966 when Marshall began a relationship with Lockheed Martin in introducing the C-130K Hercules aircraft to Royal Air Force Service.
Since then, the Company has provided support to the Royal Air Force on an unbroken basis on the C-130 Hercules conducting over 300 major modifications which have included wing r