Great-great niece Liz Walker and husband Barrie and, below, the overgrown grave of Horace Short in West Hampstead
Liz Walker, 76, hopes to raise £11,000 to turn the last resting place of Eustace and Horace Short at Hampstead Cemetery, in Fortune Green Road, into “national monuments”.
Together with a third brother Oswald, who is buried elsewhere, the brothers started Short Brothers in London in 1908. It is credited with being the world’s first aircraft manufacturing company.
Mrs Walker, a retired headteacher from Derbyshire, started the campaign with husband Barrie, 76, after visiting the graves and finding they were “shockingly” overgrown and had no information about the brothers’ achievements.
She hopes to raise enough money to redo the stonework and fit stainless steel plaques next to the graves.
Mrs Walker said: “If you go to Hampstead and see their graves they are in a terrible condition. They should be national monuments but they are in an awful state.
“The brothers rose from nothing but they had drive and determination and built this internationally famous factory.”
The Short Brothers designed and built the first British-powered aircraft to complete a circular flight of a mile. They set up the country’s first purpose-built aircraft factory at an aerodrome on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. In 2013, a railway arch in Battersea was marked with a blue plaque recognising the workshop where the brothers started out by manufacturing hot-air balloons.
At the time, Jenny Body, the first female president of the Royal Aeronautical Society, said: “While aerospace is at the cutting edge of technology and innovation, it is built on a foundation of great heritage going back to the pioneers of aviation like the Short Brothers.”
Mrs Walker, who is writing a book about Short Brothers, became interested in the firm’s founders when she discovered journals and newspaper cuttings in her mother’s desk drawers.
She added: “They were working-class boys from Newcastle who left school early. They had this passion for aircraft. I think their graves have been completely forgotten and there is no recognition at all of the part that they played in early aviation.”