Britannia Crash – 6th November 1957
I remember 6th November 1957.
I was 10 years old and my brother Anthony was 13 years old. We had bonfire night
to look forward to, and on the 7th we had my Uncle Parmenas George Grigg
from London,who was a Sergeant in the 2nd Scots Guards, coming to stay, to
see his sister Babs, my Mother.The Grigg family originated from Hembury.
Better still I had to share my bed with him as we didnt have a spare room. I
was told by my Mother to behave myself or I had better watch out!
The Bristol Aeroplane Company made some beautiful aircraft, the Britannia
being one of them. The Britannia G-ANCA had been on a test flight on that
morning – the weather was good, quite cold but a beautiful blue sky. The
aircraft was returning at 11.55 am and made a circuit around Filton
airspace. It made a grand flypast down the runway for the ground crew, with
the undercarriage semi-retracted. At Lockleaze Secondary School, my brother
and I were skiving, waiting for the 12 o’clock lunchtime bell to ring.
Anthony’s classroom was on the top floor and I met him there. We were looking
towards Frenchay and Downend when my brother said “there’s the Britannia”.
As we looked down on it, suddenly the right wing went down and the aircraft
went on its side for a few seconds, then righted itself, and went down
again. We thought it was making a very sharp turn to go around Lincombe Farm
Wood, but instead it flew into the wood and blew up. It was just like an
We met a teacher in the corridor and told him what we had just seen, then we
ran home to tell my Father, who worked for BAC. He had been on a nightshift and
was asleep. We burst into his bedroom to wake him up and tell him what we
had seen. He got up in a daze, and was hardly dressed when a Land Rover from
the BAC , with a yellow stripe on the roof, arrived outside our house and
took him away.
When we got back to school, all the pupils were called into the Assembly
Hall, where Dr Littlejohns, the Headmaster, told us of the aircraft disaster
and said a prayer for the crew and their families.
The next day, my uncle Parmenas George Grigg arrived. He had a new car and
he drove my Mother, Father and us two boys down to Overndale Road. The
Police let us through – there was an army of people everywhere. It was like
something out of a Quatermass film. When I went to bed that night, I can
remember my Uncle, sat up in bed, in his blue and white striped pyjamas,
smoking a fag! During the War he lost an eye, he had a false one, and I
could never work out which was which! When he looked down at me I closed my
eyes and pretended to be asleep.This went on all night. Next morning I told
my Mother that Uncle Parmenas was smoking in bed and she said “He’s a
Soldier!” I”ll never forget the 6th November 1957.
14 foot Concorde model
Keep Filton flying!
The house I would have loved to live in!
Photographs from my collection