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Story last updated: 18 Nov 2003 1248 GMT Printable version of this page
Concorde 'down to his cufflinks'
Martin Slade
by Martin Slade
Founder of Speedbirds.com

Martin Slade has been captivated by Concorde for more than 30 years and has been running Speedbirds.com - a website dedicated to the plane - since 1997.
Martin shows off his prized Concorde cufflinks
I was playing in the street outside my parents house in Yate in April 1969, totally oblivious to the world around me, pretending that my bike was a supercharged racer on some famous circuit.

Gradually, I became aware of a thunder interrupting my fantasy, gathering pace behind me.

At first it was quiet, but it didn't subside and instead became deafeningly loud. I looked skywards and witnessed the most amazing sight a young lad could ever see back then - Concorde's maiden flight from Filton to Fairford.

I had heard of Concorde of course, but until that moment it meant not a lot to a small boy like me to be honest - it seemed that everybody's father or uncle was working on her and I, like many small boys in Bristol, became blasé.

Concorde image from Speedbirds.com
Martin's website is a tribute to the supersonic plane
However all that had changed forever with that inadvertent sighting, and a lifelong love affair between me and my 'special friend' began that very day.

In 1972 I was in the Church Lads' Brigade - Boys' Brigade for C of E boys - and our master, Harry Cowl, worked for BAC in Filton at the time.

Unknown to us he had managed to swing us a full tour of the facility, and we all set off - excited chattering schoolboys - by minibus for Filton.

I remember standing on a viewing platform, watching no less than FOUR huge Concordes taking shape in front of me.

That sight has never left me. I also sat in one of the seats in the full sized wooden mock-up fuselage and dreamed that one day dad would take me on her for real.

Bristolians

One thing that sets Bristolians apart from the rest of the world is the fact that we can talk about Concorde for hours.

Most people who see her fleetingly fly above will stop and marvel at her form and grace, and perhaps chance a quick chat with the stranger next to them about her.

But if there happens to be a Bristolian in that group gazing upwards, woe betide you!

He or she will wax lyrically for hours quite happily about the neighbour who made the bolts for the wheels, or the aunt who saved up to fly to New York on her for her wedding anniversary.

You see, us Bristolians - whether we actually worked on her or not - really do own a small piece of her.

In about 1996 - I began to feel that perhaps Concorde was seeing out her last days as a commercial viability.

Not wanting her to slip away without doing something myself in tribute to her, my website was born.

Basic and naive at first, it soon became an obsession for me, and the emails that I started to get from all over the world spurred me on even more.

If Mrs Alves from Peru was asking me for information about the plane then surely I could become a point of reference for people all over the world. It gave me a new purpose in life.

More than 20,000 people have visited my website since its inception in 1997.

That makes me really proud. To think that as many people as those who worked on the whole project at its peak have visited my website!

It really makes me feel that I have achieved something and it's nice to know that I can give so many people a bit of joy.

>> Read more about Martin and Speedbirds
MORE FROM THIS STORY
RELATED LINKS
  Speedbirds
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external websites
SEE ALSO ON BBCi
  Concorde
Bristol Jamcams
Video Nation in Bristol

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