WORLD War II hero Sir Sydney Camm, the engineering genius behind the Hawker Hurricane, has been honoured with a new library at Kingston University named after him.
Sir Sydney worked for the Hawker Aircraft company which once occupied the site of the university's faculty of technology, in Canbury Park.
Born in Windsor in 1893, he was a pioneer of the biplane and designed not only the Hawker Hurricane and other aircraft during the war, but also the leading planes of the 1950s. He was later in charge of the team that developed the early prototype of what would become the Harrier Jump Jet.
The crucial role of the Hurricane during the Battle of Britain led to him being dubbed 'the man who saved Britain'.
TV presenter Kate Humble, whose grandfather worked as a test pilot for the Hawker Aircraft company with the aeronautical brain during the war, cut the ribbon at the centre last Thursday. She found out about her aviation heritage when she featured on the BBC TV show Who Do You Think You Are?
Speaking at the new Sir Sydney Camm Centre, Ms Humble referred to her grandfather Bill as a 'cleverer and braver Humble'. She said: "The legacy that my grandfather's generation handed down to us is that of a free country, where we can do what we want and say what we want.
"If it is true that we look to the past to find inspiration for the future, there is a good reason to remember those who have achieved extraordinary things in their lives. The pressures are different today, but engineering remains crucial to our future way of life, just like to was in my grandfather's day."
The library will help a new generation of engineers complete their studies at the university's Roehampton Vale Campus, in Friars Avenue. Its opening marks the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.
Information specialist Bill Downey, who works in the university's faculty of engineering, researched Sir Sydney's life and work as part of the special event. He said: "I had no idea what a monumental figure he was in British aviation and the extent of the debt the country owes him.
"His career spans an extraordinary ranges from the age of the biplane in the 1920s right through to the Harrier of the 1950s. It's an incredible legacy and one that deserves to be remembered. He is the most eminent engineer associated with the town of Kingston and the aeronautical courses at the university are the last link the town has to that heritage."
Sir Sydney's great granddaughter Chloe Dickson was among the guests there to watch the opening. She said: "Standing here today listening to stories about his life and work really brings home how important he was to the outcome of World War II.
"It brings his name to the minds of the next generation of engineers and if that inspires them, then that is a fitting tribute.”