company which had been established in 1911 under Mr Dominic Santoni (an aviator himself and previously an aeronatautical advisor to Lloyds) to supply
aircraft and spares for the emerging British aviation market and which already handled the sales of the French built Anzani motors. They had been given 1500 £1 shares as compensation for the loss of their sole rights.British Anzani was then solely concerned with making aero engines which were sold from the salesrooms of General Aviation Contractors in Regent Street, London and constructed by Coventry Ordnance Works Ltd., an engineering company known for their contract engineering skills.The first chairman of the new company was Dominic L. Santoni a former director of British Deperdussin and listed in the company documentation as an ‘aviator’. Many of his fellow directors also had aviation in their blood. Lt. J.C. Porte was a naval officer and well known pilot who had connections with the American company Curtiss as well as also being a former British Deperdussin director. W.R. Prentice was the third director with flying experience as was Captain J.C. Halahan (Royal Dublin Fusiliers and R.A.F.) and Claude Schofield. Schofield’s Anzani career wasn’t long-lived as his name was removed from the company records in 1913 with the word ‘dismissed’ crossed out and ‘resigned’ entered over it!The original capital investment of £10,000 was enhanced by another £12,000 raised on a debenture in 1915. In December 1916 Hubert Hagens joined the board along with accountant Richard Simpkin. Hagens was a Belgian motorcycle racer and an extremely talented engine designer. The engines he designed and his influence on the company would be significant.Another important arrival was Gustave Maclure. ‘Mac’ Maclure had joined the company as Works Manager in 1917 from Rolls Royce car division where he had been employed as head of the testing department at only 25 years of age. The addition of Maclure strengthened considerably the engineering expertise available at British Anzani and many rated his talent among the very best in the British engineering industry at the time. He had been brought into the company to oversee the production of the 5 and 10 cylinder aero engines and stayed to design possibly their most successful engine, the 11.9 hp side-valve car engine. There were many comings and goings at board level and another well known executive was it’s general manager Mr A.M. Ramsay (who was later also MD of
Waldo Ridley Prentice (born 14th August 1883 in Kensington, London) was one of the earliest pioneer fliers in the UK.His early career was in the merchant marine but his interest in aviation led him to achieve his pilot’s licence in 1911 and to join London based plane makers Aeronautical Syndicate Ltd (shortly to become the general manager). When it closed in 1912 he joined General Aviation Contractors who held the concession for Anzani engines in the UK and he became a director of the newly formed British Anzani Engine Co. By 1913 he had become the MD of General Aviation Contractors. Health problems prevented war service but he joined the diplomatic service in which he served for 30 years.He died on the 14th August 1952 aged 68 in Lisbon following a heart attack.
Domenico Lorenzo Santoni was another early aviation pioneer. Born in Italy on the 13th February 1877 he moved to France at an early age. He achieved an engineering degree and his interest in aviation began. He took flying lessons in 1910 and moved to England (anglicising his name to Dominic Lawrence along the way) with the intention of selling European aircraft equipment from his new office new Hyde Park. GAC was established in the same year and in 1911 along with John Cyril Porte he opened a flying school at Brooklands and Waldo Ridley Prentice joined as general manager. In 1912 all three became directors of British Anzani. In late 1912 Santoni returned to Italy to set up a subsidiary of GAC in Milan and by 1913 had settled in Italy for good. He was very successful and his web of companies grew. The post war slump meant he moved to France in 1919 and his story begins to fade. It is known he was trying to establish a flying taxi company in 1925 but nothing is known after that.–