In 1912 Samuel E Saunders opened a shipyard in Cowes. It wasn't long before he was producing seaplanes and aeroplanes, across the River Medina at the Columbine Works, too. Alliott Verdon Roe left Avro (which he had founded in 1910 with his brother Humphrey) in 1926 and bought into Saunders in 1929. Saunders-Roe was born.
Produced seaplane flying boats from 1913, high speed launches, helicopters and hovercraft in the East Cowes area. SARO produced the unconventional Helicogyre in 1928, with a small Bristol Cherub engine at each of its 4 rotor tips. In Jan 1951 Saunders-Roe acquired the Cierva Autogiro Company at Eastieigh, and formed a Helicopter Division. Early models of the Skeeter light helicopter appeared at Cowes but most production was from Eastleigh.
In Aug 1959 Westland acquired the helicopter and hovercraft business of Saunders-Roe. A year later, the helicopter interests of the Bristol Aeroplane Company and Fairey Aviation were also consolidated into Westland.