Marshall of Cambridge was established in 1909 by David Gregory Marshall, in a small lock-up garage in Brunswick Gardens, Cambridge as a chauffeur drive company.
The company’s first involvement in aviation dates back to 1912 when its mechanics helped repair the engine of a British Army airship, the Beta II, which had made an emergency landing in Jesus Green, Cambridge, just behind the Marshall garage.
During the First World War, the company’s premises were used for servicing and repairing of vehicles required for the war effort as well as for selling cars.
A chance meeting with Sir Herbert (later Lord) Austin during the Great War resulted in Marshall being awarded the Distributorship for Austin in Cambridgeshire immediately after the war.
It was David Marshall’s son, Arthur, who, having learned to fly, opened a new aerodrome situated on the outskirts of the city beside the family home. Flying training commenced in 1929 and a year later the Marshall Flying School was formed.
The need to train more pilots, together with the growing numbers of aircraft requiring engineering support made it necessary to find a larger airfield site.
The new Cambridge Airport was officially opened by the then Secretary of State for Air, Sir Kingsley Wood.
A major flying training school for the RAF was established by Marshall and over 600 new RAF pilots were trained before the Battle of Britain commenced. By the end of the Second World War, the company had trained more than 20,000 aircrew.
Marshall modified and repaired over 5,000 aircraft, ranging in size and complexity and including front-line operational types as the Mosquito, Spitfire, Hurricane, Wellington and B-17.
Having been closed down as part of the war effort during the Second World War, the Marshall garages re-opened in 1945.
Post war, many Canberra bombers were modified, as were a number of Vickers aircraft, including the Valiant, Viking, Varsity, Valetta and Viscount.
Marshall Motor Group flourished in the post-war era and steadily grew to include garages in Peterborough in 1946 and Bedford a few years later, as well as a number of operations in smaller towns.
Following the Second World War, the reduction in aircraft work led to a diversification into vehicle body building and Marshall Specialist Vehicles was founded in 1946. Marshall went on to build over 90,000 vehicle bodies and more than 5,000 tactical shelters in over 200 configurations for the Ministry of Defence.
Marshall also built many civil vehicles including Black Marias for the Metropolitan Police.
Marshall also manufactured a wide range of buses, including those for London Transport.
A new concrete runway was built in 1953 and two years later the first of the very large hangars. This new accommodation could handle such aircraft as the Valiant, Britannia, Belfast and VC-10, but also, in more recent years, the Hercules.
The Vickers Viscount was the first turbo-prop airliner in the world and was introduced into service in 1953, with 244 of these aircraft modified at Marshall in the following two years.
The skills developed in the Aircraft Design office during the 1960s subsequently enabled Marshall Aerospace to undertake the design and manufacture of the Concorde droop nose and retracting visor on behalf of the British Aircraft Corporation.
Marshall manufactured expendable sleds to test ejector seats for aircraft. The sleds were of timber construction and powered by rocket motors capable of accelerating to around 500 mph. They ran on a rail system constructed at Pendine Sands and were truly expendable as they all finished up in the sea!
Marshall Aerospace became the UK Designated company for the RAF C-130 K Hercules in 1966 and introduced the aircraft to RAF service.
The nationalisation and subsequent privatisation of the British motor manufacturing industry saw Marshall’s franchise base broaden to include most of the well-known British marques: Austin, Morris, Rover, Jaguar, Triumph, Land Rover, Leyland, Rolls Royce Bentley and Aston Martin.
1972 saw the launch of Marshall Thermo King, which specialises in the sales and after sales support of vehicle-mounted, temperature control units.
Marshall was appointed the Cessna Citation Service Centre for the UK and continues to this day to carry out routine servicing and maintenance on a wide range of Cessna executive jets.
Marshall Aerospace won a contract from the European Space Agency to design and manufacture a space sled for medical research in order to find ways of alleviating the problems of space motion sickness experienced by some astronauts and to provide possible training methods for conditioning the human balancing system.
The air support of the Expeditionary Forces during the Falklands Conflict was only made possible because of the installation by Marshall of air-to-air refuelling receiver equipment in RAF Hercules aircraft. This vital modification was designed, manufactured, installed and flight trialled within 14 days, with the first aircraft in operational service within 3 weeks from the initial design request.
The Falklands campaign clearly identified the requirement for a long range strategic tanker for the RAF and, in 1983, Marshall built its largest hangar to accommodate the contract to convert civil TriStars for RAF use as both freighter and tanker aircraft.
It was also at this time that the concept for the DROPS Flatrack was born, utilising the expertise of both the Specialist Vehicles and the Aircraft Division for the design. Over 10,000 of these unique units were supplied to the MOD and these have subsequently been demonstrated during both Gulf Wars.
The company became a Sister Design Authority for the C-130 in 1988, and has supported the RAF fleet on a continuous basis since then. This has included complex fuselage-stretch production and major repair, modification and upgrades work for both the RAF and a large number of export customers also operating the aircraft.
The TriStars played a key role in the 1990-1991 Gulf War and Marshall provided substantial support through essential design work for operational modifications together with maintenance and the overnight painting of two TriStars into desert pink camouflage.
The company has also converted a number of passenger TriStar aircraft for use as civil freighters in the United States. Both the Hercules and TriStar remain in front-line RAF service and Marshall continues to provide full engineering support with major modification and upgrade contracts.
Marshall Aerospace was selected by Orbital Sciences Corporation in the USA to perform the design and conversion of a TriStar to carry Pegasus rockets to launch satellites, with the first satellite successfully launched in 1995.
Marshall Motor Group pioneered the development of purpose-built multi-franchise operations with the opening of the Marshall Car Centre on Newmarket Road in Cambridge.
Throughout the 1990s, shelters, one of Marshall SV’s core products, were in great demand and formed the basis of many systems including Mobile Field Hospitals, Power Pack Repair Facilities and Mobile Bakeries.
The Land Rover based military field ambulance was launched and delivered to the British Army in Bosnia and Northern Ireland.
The cargo vehicle building business continued from strength to strength with orders received for several thousand vehicles.
Marshall Aerospace saw over 100 British Airways 747 aircraft through the hangars at Cambridge, for modifications ranging from crew rest areas, first class enhancements, interior refurbishment and even the painting of the tail fins to remove the then controversial BA logo!
Since 2000 Marshall SV has developed a number of new and innovative projects. These include Incident Response Units and Prime Mover vehicle systems which have been designed and manufactured for use by the Fire Service.
The Boeing 777 capability was added to Marshall’s wide range of authorisations following a contract award by Alitalia.
Marshall Executive Aviation is awarded a UK Air Operator Certificate. The company now begins chartering their Citation Bravo aircraft for public transport operations.
Airbus Military awarded Marshall Aerospace a contract to carry out risk reduction flight trials for the new Europrop International TP400-D6 Turboprop engine, to be fitted to the Airbus A400M Military Transporter. As part of the project, an instrumented engine and propeller is being fitted to a modified C-130 aircraft.
May 31, 2006, the MOD announce a £1.52 billion contract with Marshall Aerospace, to provide long-term in-depth Hercules maintenance and support at Cambridge and the main RAF operating base, in partnership with Lockheed Martin and Rolls-Royce. To provide guaranteed levels of aircraft availability over the next 24 years.
History repeats itself as Marshall SV begins work on a project to supply the MoD with 7,000 Support Vehicles, based on a MAN chassis and which will replace the Army's existing fleet with a lighter and stronger truck which will last long into the future.
The contract was secured to supply two state of the art field hospitals for the Norwegian Defence Forces, each hospital including some 24 shelters.
MEA adds Citation XLS to their expanding fleet of business jets. These state of the art aircraft offer passengers improved range, speed and comfort.
2009 saw the centenary of the Marshall Group of Companies, as well as the 80th anniversary of Marshall’s association with aviation.