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Village news

World's Biggest Coffee Morning

Once again the MacMillan Coffee Morning held on 27th September was attended with great spirit and many cups of tea and coffee served by Pat Edwards and her helpers, thank you. Many donations were given also from our trade stands, thank you. Money was raised from cakes, wine or water, tombola, sweep stake, Christmas decorations, books, guess the royals, bric a brac and owl door stops. A big thank you to all who have been planning and raising money months before the event. We must not forget the volunteers who helped man some of the stalls and Rolleston Club for allowing us to use the facilities. The total number of coffee beans in the sweepstake was 2230 and was won by a local person. The grand total raised was £1175.55p.


Death of Robert Ford, CBE

Mr Robert Ford died on 20th September. His beloved wife, Monica, née Tebbett, also from Rolleston, died last year; they are survived by two sons.


Rolleston get sniff of Lord's in National Village Cup

Rolleston reached the last eight of the National Village Cup after a sensational victory over Colwall of Herefordshire off the final ball of a thrilling day’s cricket. Read the Burton Mail article here.


Rollestonbury 2013

On 13 July Rolleston stepped back to the seventies as more than 1,300 people turned out for the Scouts’ annual music festival on Saturday night. There was barely room to move on the field at the back of the 1st Rolleston Scouts HQ on Station Road, as people packed out the event to enjoy One Stop Boogie’s night of music from Abba and other popular seventies performers. See the full Burton Mail article including a slideshow of pictures here.


Rolleston almshouses set for £600,000 revamp

New bathrooms and central heating are due to be installed into the historic houses on Burnside, among other things, in a bid to update them and make them more pleasant for the people currently living there. The six houses, which have been in place for more than 300 years, have not been updated since the 1960s. Read the Burton Mail article here.


Scout Carnival

The Scout Group Carnival was held on Sunday 12 May. This year has taken on the theme of musicals. As usual the themed floats and marching bands assembled at the junction between The Lawns and Hall Road at 1.30pm, and after processing through the village, arrived at the Scout Headquarters at about 2pm.


Rolleston Scouts help build an orphanage in Kenya

Scouts and their leaders from Burton have seized the opportunity of a lifetime to help build an orphanage in Kenya.

In April, 43 Staffordshire Scouts, which included 19 from Burton, travelled to the African country to build a brand new orphanage in Kikambala, north of Mombasa. (Burton Mail article).


Rollestonian of the Year Award

A longstanding cricketer has been given a special village award for his outstanding service to his club. Alan Partington has been awarded the Rollestonian of the Year Award by Rolleston on Dove Parish Council. Read the Burton Mail article here.


De Havilland Comet Racer Restoration

An interesting item of British Heritage is being re-born in our vicinity. At Derby Airfield near Egginton, just 2 miles away as the crow (or Cessna) flies, a restoration project is underway which is to revive a machine from the heady inter-war days of aerial racing and pioneering achievement.

In 1934, an England-Australia air race was planned in order to celebrate the centenary of the founding of the state of Victoria, Australia. In 1834, Melbourne had become the capital of Victoria and it was also, at that time, the capital of Australia. It was decided therefore by various civic and industrial leaders at the time that the race should be to Melbourne. A long runway was essential for the departure point to allow for the heavy fuel-laden aircraft to stagger into the air, and the new airfield at Mildenhall, Suffolk, was chosen to provide that starting point.

Sir Macpherson Robertson, the successful industrialist and great Australian patriot, first had the idea of the race, and he was to provide a cup for the winner and substantial money prizes. The organising committee, which included the Royal Aero Club in the UK, decided to open up the entry to all nations and all types of aircraft. There was a fixed route with 5 compulsory stopping/refuelling points, but with 17 other optional points for checking and refuelling.

The Rules and Regulations were not finalised until April 1933, and so there was very little time for the intending entrants to make lengthy preparations. In fact, the British entry was starting to look decidedly disappointing as the aircraft manufacturers seemed unable to field new contenders in time to make it really competitive. However, never a firm to turn down a challenge, the de Havilland Aircraft Co., known for the Moth family of private and sporting aircraft, and of course subsequently for the wartime Mosquito and post-war Comet jet airliner, rose to the occasion and, as late as January 1934, started design work on a racing aircraft specially for the event. De Havilland had also chosen the name of Comet for these piston-engined planes.

The aircraft was designed to be twin-engined, have an enclosed cockpit for two people, flaps, a retractable undercarriage and a beautiful streamlined airframe – all to minimize drag and to economise on the use of fuel over the long sea and desert stage-lengths. Obviously, a relatively high cruising speed with a good range was the main design criterion. The Gypsy Six R engines were also of de Havilland design and tuned to give an extra 20% power over standard units.

De Havillands got three orders for the machines in time for the Race, the first one flying just 6 weeks before the event. This was ordered by the famous flyers, Jim Mollison and his wife Amy Johnson, who named it ‘Black Magic’. It is this aircraft that is now being rebuilt at Derby Airfield.

The other two Comets were an un-named one, flown by Cathcart-Jones’ and Waller, and ‘Grosvenor House’, flown by Scott and Campbell-Black. It seems amazing by to-day’s standards but Grosvenor House had only been test flown for a total of 1hr 20mins before it was handed over to its owner. Indeed, it had taken only 9 months for de Havillands to design, construct, test and deliver the 3 aircraft.

Their two main competitors were to be from the American Big Boys, a new Boeing 247D, and a Douglas DC2 (forerunner of the now well known DC3 Dakota), of which major things were expected.

It was a thrilling start, watched by thousands, with all 30 aircraft taking off at timed intervals. The aircraft were full to overflowing with fuel for the first stage-length and many only just lumbered into the air by the time they reached the end of the runway. Some even had to make a second attempt.

The ensuing days were full of suspense, delay, elation, disappointment and achievement. Hundreds of miles were flown over desolate sea and desert areas, for many hours without seeing signs of life, then busy city airfields and landing for a quick rest while refuelling - and off again. Unfortunately, the Mollisons in Black Magic had some difficulties with compass readings in India, got temporarily lost, became low on fuel, landed and took on some dirty fuel at a nearby bus garage – and then damaged the engines trying to make up for lost time. Burnt pistons were diagnosed and that was the end of the race for them.

However, the Comet ‘Grosvenor House’ had forged on, overcoming problems of its own, to say nothing of the acute fatigue experienced by the pilots, and eventually crossed the finishing line after 71hrs 54mins. They were the first to arrive. The DC2 also had problems on the way but finished in an impressive time of 90hrs 9mins, which had been thought during the planning stage to be a winning time. The red Comet ‘Grosvenor House’, flown by Scott and Campbell-Black, was thus pronounced the winner amongst great public and media excitement.

It was a tremendous achievement by all concerned, and gave a tremendous boost to British aerial competition and engineering.

The Comet ‘Black Magic’ is now being restored by a dedicated team of volunteers and many new parts to the airframe (most of it wood) and fittings have had to be made from original de Havilland drawings to be assembled with the remaining original parts. Much of the tail assembly and fuselage structure is approaching completion. The wings still require much work, as do preparation of the engines.

We look forward to the day in the future when the aircraft will take to the air again from Derby Airfield and provide us with a view of a celebrated machine from this exciting by-gone era.

For contemporary pictures of the aircraft and more information, see

Thanks and acknowledgement are given to Airspeed Aviation, the owners of Derby Aero Club, and to their publication “The Comet Racers, the Great Air Race and ‘Black Magic’, author Stuart Jackson, for allowing material to be used in this article.

(Rollestonian article - Roger Gawthorpe)


The Craythorne To Close

In February it was announced that the golf course was to close after 41 years - also leading to the closure of the restaurant. The Burton Mail reported the impact this had with a number of follow up reports including this story.


Church Christmas Quiz 2012 Winner Announced

The Bush Family did one better this year, getting second place with a score of 98. The winner Tony Layton (Stretton) scored 99 and Julia Swarbrick (Burton) came third with 97.


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Last updated: 26 January 2014