Christopher William Crouch Wheatley, MBE, MA

1877 - 1939

Schoolmaster, lecturer in mathematics and science, Aviation pioneer who took part in early experiments in aeroplane design and construction, and Inventor

Christopher had been born at 11 Gospel Oak Grove, Kentish Town, London on 1 July 1877 to Christopher William Wheatley, plasterer, and his wife Mary Ann, nee Clark. The death of his father was registered at Pancras for the June Quarter of 1887 and subsequently he went to live with his maternal uncle, Charles Clark, a Railway Foreman Porter, in Wellingborough.

He entered Wellingborough 3rd Grade and Girls Grammar School during 1888 and from there was awarded a County Council senior scholarship for 1896/7, when his mother was employed as a laundress. She appears to have died in 1899.

Admitted pensioner at Corpus Christi, Cambridge, on 1 October 1896, he gained a BA degree in 1899.

Reportedly an Army 'Coach,' over the years 1899-1903, his occupation appears in the 1901 Census as 'Tutor'. He taught at Faversham Grammar School and became an Assistant Master at Lancing College between 1904-8 before teaching Mathematics and Science at Epsom College, 1908-16.

On 21 March1904, Patent 7046 in respect of folding stands for cycles was recorded to have been granted to C. W. C. Wheatley, London.

On 8 August 1910, Christopher William Crouch Wheatley was appointed Second Lieutenant, for service with the Epsom College Contingent, Junior Division, Officers' Training Corps.

Various references to his activities appeared in print: -
Flight 24 December 1910 Final paragraph of his letter about 'Gyroscopic Effect: -
"In conclusion may I suggest that the time has surely come when large passenger carrying machines, mechanically controlled, should be built. Personally I would, if I had the means to do so, build a large machine of the multi-plane type - with Mr. Roe's triplane as the prototype-fitted with two high-powered rotary engines mounted in a vertical plane as I have suggested in the front of the machine, and in a similar manner to the two gyrostats on Mr. Brennan's monorail (if he would let me so far infringe his patents). The propellers would be placed as in the Wright biplane, and I should want to convince myself that the great length of tail prevalent in modern machines was necessary." Flight 16 September 1911 "The Avro school were out with their new biplane. Mr. Wheatley was having his first rolling practice, making excellent progress, …"
Flight 2 December 1911
"C. W. C. WHEATLEV, M.A., and [Sqn. Ldr.] S. V. Sippe, both of the Avro school, are collaborating in the production of an instrument which, once its successful operation is proved, should revolutionise cross-country flying, in that the difficulty of maintaining a true course to a given point will be reduced to a minimum. The instrument has the appearance of a simple box, under the glass lid of which passes a map on rollers. Directly above the map are two spider lines, intersecting each other at right angles, which move in relation to the direction and distance travelled by the vehicle on which the instrument is placed. In starting away from a certain spot, the lines are adjusted so that they intersect over the point representing that spot on the map, and no matter what direction is taken or what speed is maintained, these spider lines will always move and indicate the course which has been taken."
Flight 30 November 1912
"Some few months back I mentioned in these paragraphs that Messrs. Wheatley and Sidney V[incent]. Sippe were conducting experiments on a device intended to be fitted to a motor car, by which, no matter in what direction the car was driven, its location at any moment would be indicated on a roller map contained in the apparatus. They further intended applying the same invention to steamships and to aeroplanes, examples of locomotion in which the velocity of the vehicle relative to earth cannot be determined in such a ready way as it can be from the road wheels of a car. …

Mr. Wheatley has, by the way, control of the Science Department of Epsom College, and I can assure my readers that he is no mean exponent of his profession. Some little while back, while chatting over things in general, he mentioned that he was about to commence on a series of experiments to determine the possibility of recording sound vibrations, through the medium of light, on a cinematograph film, and further, of reproducing them. For such a system, were it practicable, there would be a far-reaching future, for by its use it would be possible, in conjunction with a cinematograph, to reproduce an exact portrayal of an event, perfectly synchronised in the impressions it would convey to the eye and ear. A clever idea, forsooth." From 6 September1912, Second Lieutenant Christopher W. C. Wheatley was promoted Lieutenant in Epsom College Contingent, Junior Division, Officers Training Corps .

At Epsom College, an "Aeronautical Section, under Mr. Wheatley...took over and fitted out a shed in the grounds, dividing their time between making and flying models, lectures on flight, visits to local airfields or races and making, repairing and flying their own full-sized glider. This was launched along a runway in front of Wilson House, being powered by a descending weight. Flights at first were tethered, and the degree to wish free flights were undertaken is uncertain."
In St James, Calderbrook, - Littleborough, Blatchinworth - Lancashire, on 29 December 1914, Christopher married Mabel Nevile Hope before they took up residence at Calderfall, Kingsdown Road, Epsom. Their daughter, Dorothy Margaret Hope Wheatley, was baptised at St Banabas on 31 January 1917, followed by a son, Christopher Cameron Hope Wheatley, 29 June 1919, apparently having been born on 26 May 1918.

By October 1915, William had been appointed Staff Captain in Royal Flying Corps. From 25 March 1916, C W. C. Wheatley moved from Captain, Unattached List (T. F.), O.T.C., to be Captain; deputy assistant director in the War Office and, in March 1917, he became Assistant Director of Supplies (Aeroplane)

Having been mentioned in despatches 24 February 1917, on 6 October in that year, he joined the British War Mission to USA, as chief assistant to Brig. Gen. J D Cornack, CMG. In January 1919, he was also awarded an MBE for services in connection with the War as late Chief Assistant Director of Aeronautical Supplies, British War Mission in USA.

Major C. W. C. Wheatley, remembered from early days at Brooklands as an Avro pupil, who had been on technical work in the R.A.F. joined the staff of Martinsyde during 1919. That aircraft company, with flight sheds at Brooklands, Weybridge, and a factory in Woking, Surrey, turned to the manufacture of motorcycles but went into liquidation following a fire in 1922.

The Wheatleys had moved from Epsom to Treton, Epsom Road, Guildford, to remain at that address until 1927, and subsequently lived in St Botolphs, Tangier Road, Guildford, up to 1929. It is not known when Christopher returned to teaching but from 1932 at the latest until 1935 he was Head Master of Eversley School, Frant Road, Tunbridge Wells.

In 1937 the family's home address had become Great Bounds, Southborough, Kent.

By 1938 he has joined the Air Ministry working in the Directorate of Production under the Director of Air Ministry Factories as a Senior Production Officer with a salary of £800 p.a.

Further patents are recorded, as exampled:-
7 February 1939 Colour Photography patent issued to Christopher William Crouch Wheatley and Christopher Cameron Hope Wheatley, Kent, England.

Also in 1939 for 'Manufacture compound having antiseptic and germicidal properties by reacting resorcinol with n-decyl alcohol in presence of a dehydrating agent.'
Christopher William Crouch Wheatley of Church Lane, Albury, Surrey, died in 1939, aged 62, at Surrey County Hospital, before Probate was granted to his relict Mabel Nevil Wheatley, widow during 1944 - Effects £139:10:11.

Brian Bouchard Jan 2016.