Your article: Bomber engine demonstration a roaring success

Patrick Smart (left) and Pete Irving with the restored Hercules engine on West Green in Pocklington.
Patrick Smart (left) and Pete Irving with the restored Hercules engine on West Green in Pocklington.

Pocklington once more reverberated to the roar of a World War Two Halifax bomber engine when Saturday’s (9 May) Flying Man Festival programme came to a close at the end of the afternoon with a Hercules engine demonstration run.

Patrick Smart, who is originally from South Cave but now owns North Yorkshire Land Rover dealers, Maddison 4x4, brought his 14 cylinder Bristol Hercules 216 engine to Pocklington for the weekend. It was on static display outside All Saints’ Church throughout the day, then moved on to West Green to get up and running for a half hour. A further demonstration followed on Sunday at the Gliding Club.

Patrick is a lifelong engine enthusiast, following in the footsteps of his father, Alan, who was a East Yorkshire World War Two hero who flew Halifax bombers from Lissett, Driffield and Pocklington airfields, he was awarded the DFC in 1943. Patrick knew there was a Hercules engine on loan to Elvington Air Museum, but it was on outdoor display and no longer in working order. He promptly bought it last June and set about rebuilding it with the help of his next door neighbour, Pete Irving, who just happened to be an ex-RAF jet pilot who is now a Virgin Atlantic Airline captain.

Patrick explained: “We are a pair of petrolheads, really. The reason I took the restoration on is my dad was a former pilot officer in the war flying with 158 and 640 squadrons. He always praised the Bristol Hercules engines, as he said ‘they always got us home’”.

He went on: “When we got the engine it was nipped up and not working, but a few months later we have the old girl running great.”

Patrick’s is one of only five known working Bristol Hercules in the world, but he has another two bomber engines at home that he hopes to restore, while a friend also has a working engine, and he added: “The aim is to get all four engines running together, what a sound that will be, we’ll almost have a full bomber.”

Patrick made the offer to bring his engine to Pocklington after he became involved in cleaning up the Merlin aircraft engine that was dug up during the building of the new surgery, and has now been turned into a memorial for the dead aircrew. And the Hercules provided a noisy and fascinating end to the day for the crowd that gathered on West Green on Saturday for the demonstration.