THE fifth generation of a family that first moved to Yeovil in the 1920s is set to continue their legacy of a century of manufacturing expertise at aerospace engineering company Leonardo.

On August 10, 1923, George Bowsher first walked through the gates at Lysander Road to commence his apprentice training.

A century later, his great-great grandson Daniel Bowsher, walks through the same gates every day for his Electrical Engineering Degree Apprenticeship, where he is working in the Avionics Systems Electro Magnetic Compatibility department, which ensures that helicopters can operate satisfactorily in an Electro Magnetic Interference environment.

George was already familiar with the company, as his father Russell was working there as a carpenter cabinet maker, creating parts for wooden aircraft.

Chard & Ilminster News: George Bowsher, back row, second from left with a hatGeorge Bowsher, back row, second from left with a hat (Image: George Bowsher, back row, second from left with a hat)

It was likely that this included the Westland Wapiti, a two-seater single-engine wooden biplane used by 20 RAF squadrons both in the UK and in missions overseas.

In 1934 Harald James Penrose, Chief Test Pilot at the company, broke an altitude record for Great Britain in a Westland Wapiti, attaining a height of 28,000ft.

George continued to work at the company as an electrician until 1945, when he decided to start his own business.

However, his ties with the company continued when his daughter Jean Bowsher married Anthony Nield, who started as an apprentice at Leonardo in 1947 and whose father Edwin had been working at the company since 1936 as an Aircraft Design Draughtsman.

Chard & Ilminster News: Russell BowsherRussell Bowsher (Image: Contributed)

Jean and Anthony’s son Chris has early memories of watching Lynx helicopters take off from Parcroft Junior School when he was seven years old.

He said: “I always knew about the place and it seemed a little bit like Willy Wonka's chocolate factory, you know a bit of a mystery behind the gates. It was just fascinating, seeing these machines flying.”

After starting out as an electrician with the Electricity Board, Chris found work as an electrician in the loom shop at Leonardo, manufacturing electrical wiring for the aircraft.

He then moved to avionics production, then conducted serviceability tests on aircraft instruments, actuators, and artificial horizons, which pilots use to fly through bad weather and low-visibility conditions.

Following this, Chris moved to the Calibration Department where has worked as a Calibration Engineer for the past 18 years, ensuring that the electrical equipment is performing perfectly.

Leonardo in Yeovil was recognised as the official ‘Home of British Helicopters’ recently, due to the fact that it is the UK’s only end-to-end rotary wing capability.

It has also been a home to one family, whose engineering expertise has supported aircraft production across a century, from the wooden biplanes of the 1920s to today’s AW101 helicopters that are used for search and rescue operations to save lives at sea.

In addition to their star appearances in Hollywood blockbusters like the Bond Film Skyfall and Jurassic World Dominion.

Reflecting on his son Dan’s current apprenticeship with Leonardo, Chris said: “I'm immensely proud of him because he's doing really well.

“I think he finds it exciting learning about the avionics of engineering and radio signals and he comes home and talks about it and you can just see his enjoyment of the work.

“I’ve known about this company all my life and even though my role plays a small part, it's about making a quality product and the safety of our helicopters is fantastic.

“Leonardo is a wonderful place to work, and a lifeline for my family that stretches back 100 years.”