Sir Max Aitken
The Prospect . Cowes

About Sir Max

A Remarkable Individual

John William Maxwell Aitken was born in Canada in 1910, eldest son of Lord Beaverbrook, the owner of the Daily Express newspaper group. Sir Max was educated at Pembrooke College, Cambridge, where he joined the Auxiliary Air Force, which comprised spare time flyers who gave up their weekends and holidays to learn how to fly different aircraft.

In 1939, Sir Max served in the famous 601 County of London Squadron, and subsequently fought in and survived the Battle of Britain, a group dubbed by Churchill as ‘The Few’. Ultimately he completed his service as Group Captain of the Banff Strike Wing, flying over Norway, in 1945. Over the course of WW2 his record in air combat comprised 16 victories, 9 probables and damage to 15 enemy aircraft. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

After the war Sir Max was for 5 years MP for Holborn, but was also working his way up his father's newspaper empire which included the Daily Express, the Sunday Express, and the Evening Standard. He became Director of the Express Group and Chairman of Beaverbrook Newspaper Ltd in 1968 after his father's death in 1964. However, Sir Max renounced his father's hereditary title explaining "In my lifetime there will only be one Lord Beaverbrook."

black and white photo of Sir Max Aitken

Sir Max was a keen and able yachtsman and several of his yachts were built by Cowes boatbuilders:

Clare Lallows built Drumbeat in 1958 which competed in the Onion Patch race in Bermuda several times. In 1966 they also built Roundabout , to a design by Sparkman & Stephens; Sir Max won the annual 'Round-the-Island Race' twice, as well as other races, making this his most successful yacht; Souter's yard built Crusade in which he won line honours in the 'Sydney-Hobart Race' in 1969, the same year the race was won outright by British Prime Minister Ted Heath’s Morning Cloud 1.

In 1978 he was named Yachtsman of the Year and many of his trophies and models of his various boats are on display in the Museum.

He founded The London International Boat Show, first held in 1954 at Olympia and then Earl’s Court (and later the London Excel Centre). In 1961 with his friend John Coote, he set up and developed the 'Cowes-Torquay Powerboat Race', which grew over the years and is still run today.

The Sir Max Aitken Museum Trust is a Registered Charity and relies heavily on donations and money raised from visitors.

old, grainy photograph of fast boats

Contact us

Sir Max Aitken Museum, The Prospect,
83 High Street,
Isle of Wight,
PO31 7AJ
Find us

Opening Dates

May - September

Opening Times

Tuesday - Saturday: 10.00 - 16.00

Admission is free.

There is no disabled access.

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