Star Aircraft

Star was founded by Edward Lisle, who started building bicycles in 1869. The Lisle family came from Yorkshire, and Edward's grandfather moved to Wolverhampton, and worked as a ledger clerk in Blakenhall. Two of his three sons, Richard and Thomas, ran a japanning and tin company in the area. Edward was born in 1852 and joined the company with his brother, Alfred. Edward's first bicycles were advertised in 1868 and he teamed up with Ernest John Sharratt to form Sharratt and Lisle, with premises in Stewart Styreet. The Star Cycle Company was formed in the 1890's and floated on the stock market. The company built its first car in April 1897. 

In 1910 the Star Engineering Company built 2 aircraft. The first was a Farman type biplane with a forward elevator. The second was a monoplane that was powered by a Star 40h.p., 4 cylinder, water-cooled engine. 

The Star Monoplane in 1911. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

The aircraft and engine were designed by Granville Bradshaw, who was only 19 years old at the time. The engine delivered 40h.p. at 1,450r.p.m. It had a bore of 100mm and a stroke of 125mm. It weighed 182lbs, with a Simms magneto and a water pump. 
The engine drove a 6ft 8inch, 2 blade Clarke propeller. The aircraft was a very unusual design. The tail consisted of a cross-shape with 4 diamond-shaped, moveable members. The two vertical members pivoted on the stern post and the two horizontal members pivoted on a spar, at right angles to the stern post. 

A front view of the aircraft.  Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

The undercarriage and engine. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.
When either pair was deflected in unison, the effect was that of a normal rudder or elevator. Each could also be moved in the opposite direction to the other one in its pair, to create a twisting motion. Bradshaw hoped this would control the aircraft laterally. The fuselage consisted of a triangular girder construction, which was covered in fabric. The wings were wire-braced to a king post, and the aircraft was provided with a double-skid undercarriage, with rubber sprung wheels.  The monoplane was exhibited at the Olympia Aero Show in April 1910 and was offered for sale at £450. On 8th June, the aircraft was taken to a meeting of the Midland Aero Club, at Dunstall Park. Granville Bradshaw was the pilot, but the monoplane failed to fly.
After the meeting, the monoplane was redesigned as a more conventional aircraft. The same fuselage remained but without its fabric covering. It was given a normal type of triangular fin and rudder, and the engine was given a vertical radiator at the rear. The triangular girder body was built in two sections so that the machine could be taken to pieces for transport. The aircraft had an ash undercarriage which consisted of two 'A' frames. It carried a light axle with two pneumatic-tyred wheels and a laminated toe on the skids. In 1911, the aircraft returned to Dunstall Park, with Joe Lisle, who was Edward's son, at the controls. 

The engine. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

A side view of the aircraft. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

The aircraft successfully flew and was watched by Edward, who was so alarmed at the site, that he banned his son from flying again.
Granville Bradshaw also flew the plane at Dunstall Park and at Brooklands. He left Star and was appointed as Chief Designer for the All British Engine Company. The fate of the monoplane is unknown, but the engine still survives and is on display at the RAF Museum, Hendon. At the time a 40h.p. Star engine was put on sale at £200.

A plan of the aircraft. Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

The two halves of the body where held together by channelled fishplates which were fixed to the front part of the girder. The fish plates formed a socket for the reception of the small spars in the rear part of the frame.



The drawing shows the fishplates which joined the two halves of the body.
Courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

The pilot's seat and controls.

Drawing courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

The wing attachment using an aluminium socket.

Drawing courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

One of the skids and wheels on the undercarriage.

Drawing courtesy of the late Jim Boulton.

Star also built the wings for the Avro 504s, that were produced by Sunbeam

Star Aircraft Engines

In 1918 Star accepted an order for 400, V8, 80h.p. Renault engines. The V8 engines were air-cooled and had a 90 degree angle between the 'V'. They were fitted to DH6 trainers, but only 12 had been built by the end of the war, when the others were cancelled. After the war, Star returned to high quality car building. This eventually led to the company's downfall, because it could never sell enough vehicles to cover costs.

The Star Gearbox Shop in 1927.

On 14th February, 1921, Edward Lisle died. He was found in the Staffordshire and Worcester canal, at Coven. The Briton Car Company, which had been set up in 1903 to produce the cheaper Star cars under a different name, went into liquidation in 1922. The Briton factory in Lower Walsall Street was taken over by A.J.S. The company could never compete with mass-produced cars. Production peaked in between 1921 and 1925, when Star sold about 1,000 cars a year. By 1927 this number had fallen to 105, and in 1928 the company was sold to Guy Motors. Guy sold Star's factory, the Moxley Foundry, and moved production to a new factory in Showell Road, Bushbury. This was nearer to Guy's factory, but sales didn't improve and Star went into receivership in March 1932.

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