Gary - Aug '08
My father use to cut Rex grass for him, and he made
his own wine, My father stated that Rex had taken to
the grave with him an invention that would make 1 shovel
of coal last all day on a average house hold fire.
Patrick Cowan - Nov '06
An update - Am glad to see a relative of Fred Smith
writing in - he was indeed a great member of Rex's team
- It's my understanding that on the day Fred raced at
Kirkistown in the M k1 4wd car my dad Billy Cowan raced
the Mk 2 - he finished 2nd !!
Always wondered what happened to the Mk1 car...
Marty - Nov '06
My uncle worked for Rex IIRC, He sadly passed away this
week - Tommy Bates RIP.
I remember him showing me pictures of himself in a
few of the racing cars they built, something which intrigued
me even to this day. I also have found memories of me
as a young belfast lad of 12 years old discovering Rex's
collection in Killough, a mile or so from our Caravan.
It was like being part of a James bond movie!
But the Pictures of Tommy in the racing cars is something
that will always keep petrol in my blood.
David Bentley - April '06
Yes indeed the autogyro was invented in 1923 by Juan
de la Cierva he died in 1936. Helicopters were developed
about then. However Ken Wallis in East Anglia developed
his own Autogyros from 1961. one appearing in the Bond
movie " You only live twice" The one in the
article looks like a Wallis to me.
Wallis may have sold kits although I doubt it because
they are not available for sporting activities only
I thought telescopic forks were pioneered by Matchless
or Triumph, in the U.K.
BMW were the very first with telescopic front forks.
Loretta Kelly (nee Smith) - Mar 06
Interesting to read the comments on Rex and Artie.
My dad, Fred Smith worked with both on the Woodstock
and Limestone Roads and they figured largely in my childhood,
through outings, photographs and stories. Dad was pictured
in the 4x4 D1 with Rex at Conlig and at Goodwood with
Rex on the starting line in the R1. Both of these photos
were in the display of Rex' work featured in Cultra
at one time. My dad worked on and drove the Mk1 to victory
at Kirkiston in 1955.
Brendan Mc Intrye - February '05
The autogyro was invented by de la cierva. Rex made
some light weight machines. The first machine was powered
by a motor bike engine. I bought a mk 4 Mc Candless
machine in the early eighties and flew it and displayed
it throughtout Ireland, together with a Bensen b8m gyro.
Rex came to see me flying his machine at shane's castle
and gave me his flying maps and flight bag. He was a
great inventor and he was also very good at making wine.
Mark McCluney - December '04
Since making my previous comment back in June I made
a few more McCandless contacts.
I got talking to a taxi driver during the summer and
mentioned my Dad's interest in vintage motorbikes. This
triggered a deluge of information about McCandless which
I was happy to soak up. It included the now infamous
remark about the invention of the autogyro (which is
clearly only a myth.)
But last week I learned this rather more startling
contact: Starting at the end of September I taught a
QUB night class for the Institute of Lifelong Learning.
It transpired, on the very last night of the course,
that one of the students had 'blagged' a ride on a firm's
aircraft when he worked at Shorts, quite some time ago.
Apart from himself there were only two other passengers,
one of whom was Rex McCandless.
How is it that McCandless is still such a secret hero
when so many people know about him?
Patrick Cowan - August '04
Your research should include the now published biography
on Rex written by one of his former employees Les Jennings,
entitled 'To Make A Better Mousetrap' - this covers
Rex's engineering history in some depth and has some
very detailed accounts of his various 'adventures' into
the very different worlds of motorbikes, cars, coal,
flying, wine making.
Rex was my father's best man at my parents' wedding
and a close friend (as much as Rex could ever be called
close) to my father and mother.
In later years - early 80's until his death - he often
visited my father (and vice versa), indeed it was with
much argument and great humour that they (Mum dad and
Rex) figured out how to lay out his epitaph on his 'homemade'
Mark McCluney - June 2004
When my Dad was an apprentice mechanic (in the the 40's
I guess) he worked for a while at the garages of the
then famous motorcyclist Artie Bell. The sheds are still
there on the Cregagh/Woodstock Road although they are
now Cregagh Carpets.
Bell and McCandless were friends, from what I understand,
and my Dad remembers 'the mad inventor' who would stay
in a shed on the premises, literally for days, often
refusing food and so on while puzzling away on a problem.
Somehow my Dad also remembers the autogyro connection
but there was definitely no claim that McCandless had
invented it. There seemed to be no doubt in the minds
of the workshop crew that he would improve on it though!
Perhaps McCandless had his autogyro stored at Bell's
garages for a while.
Ralph Allison - May 2004
It may have been invented then, yes, but in the article, no mention was made that he *invented* the autogyro - merely that he developed it.
your place and mine contributor:
"Sorry to be a spanner in the works, but was the Autogyro not invented in 1920 by a Spaniard named de la Cierva ?"
Can anyone back up or discount this theory? Let us know
what you think.