View Full Version : Stretton / HMS Blackcap
Lt Cmdr ( A )
RNAS Stretton situated 3 miles South East of Warrington in Cheshire was the Fleet Air Arms main Aircraft Maintainence Yard, ( A.M.Y.) and was used for training and disembarked squadrons from carriers on convoy duty berthing in Liverpool. At her heyday she was as big and as important as her near neighbour RAF Burtonwood. Sadly all that is left is the main runway, taxiways and perimeter track, along with a few hangars scattered here and there.
Hi Lt Cdr, I well remember cycling out to Stretton in the late 1950s to stand at the end of the runway and watch the Wyverns land on, what a fantastic sound they made, also went on a couple of visits to the Station organised by the MGAE, there were always a selection of aircraft to see.
You lucky so and so Robin, I believe Stretton was also at one time home to the FAA training facility for teaching pilots how to land on carriers (complete with the carrier equipment), I think they had based Attackers for this role.
Lt Cmdr ( A )
Hi mawganmad,yes you are correct, 767 Squadron FAA arrived at Stretton on 20th September , 1952 equipped with Firefly F4's and Sea Furies, eventually equipped with Attackers and Avengers and Sea hawks. They were designated as Landing Signal Officers Training Squadron or " Batsmen ".
They main runway had a Dummy Deck Landing Area painted on it the exact same dimensions as the decks of the current carriers. In an aside they were nicknamed " Clockwork Mice " owing to the monotonous job of executing some 2000 landings per year training the D.L.O.
Lt Cmdr ( A )
Control Tower at H.M.S. Blackcap, early 1960's
Lt Cmdr ( A )
Another view of Control Tower, showing Rescue Tender Shed at side.
Runways and peri track are remarkably intact south of the motorway.
I've visited this airfield on a few occasions. Following closure the Airfield was rented by Shell Oils as a test track for high performance engine oils, hence why the perimeter track is in such good condition. I don' think it's been used by Shell for quite some years now, but on my last visit it was in reasonable condition. Shell have some small 'Portakabin' type offices and a raised 'Control/Obs tower' on one side of the field, marked on the picture. Both were empty and very damp when I went.
The bottom end of the runway is occasionally used for Police driver training. It is a very cold and windy place! A word of caution though, access is via the front garden and driveway of an adjoining house, so unless its an official visit i don't think the casual visitor would be encouraged. Unless you can find another way in that is?
Some photos that I took at Stretton on 7 October 2009
In 2004 'Antrobus Heritage' published a book about HMS Blackcap. Written by Derek Enfield (who lives locally) it contains quite a few photos and personal stories. During the preparartion Derek collected quite a large number of photos that weren't used in the original book and most were subsequently reproduced in a second book.
For locals with an interest in Blackcap's history the first is well worth tracking down (I don't have a copy of the second and must ask Derek if he has a spare left!).
Chances of flying ever returning to Stretton look rather slim given it is being lined up to be a race/test track -
The first slide states: 'The site was requisitioned by the MOD and the Aerodrome was built for the Fleet Air Arm.'
Wrong and wrong; it was built as a fighter station for the RAF to defend Manchester and Liverpool.
Not a good start for a presentation!
In the area looking at houses yesterday so decided to see if the pikeys had trashed the Shell site yet...
VHF beacon site:
Shell test site buildings:
First picture is the entrance gateway with their fuel store just behind the fence.
Behind the fuel store are the workshop entrances shown in the third photo and the observation rooms. To the right of this are some open garages.
Dispersal pen and shelters as taken from the eastern observation room:
Most of the airfield to the south of the M56 is easily accessible from Crowley Lane and the peritrack (REF's photo of the runway extension earlier in this thread is taken from the lane)
In a moment of madness I decided to have a look at 'something' using google streetview:
It's the telephone exchange building from Blackcap (it was at some point converted into a cattery which leads to people thinking it was for RAF dogs)
(done as a screen capture rather than live google link)
Now to try a live link to something that people are less likely to photograph at Blackcap - the site of the entrance gateway to the long gone Eagle Communal site:
How about a combined view of aerial and street views, a couple of the old hangars on the AMU site:
Back to my own photography again.
Main access is blocked with rubble.
Stretton brings to mind lines of Seafires up for the chop (100s), 3 have been restored and are airworthy; ATC AEFs in a Dominie (Rapide type), Attackers leaving scorch marks on the tarmac, and a Pawnee using it in the 70s for bug bashing. There is a small private grass strip to the south that was home to a Stearman.
A couple more photos of the BHQ to show the extent of flooding.
Main ops room
Photo taken from the main entrance to the BHQ (enough space for the camera but not me!)
This photo is from Michael Dawson anlong with the following question:
Could one of you clever people please confirm what these buildings were used for, on or close too, Royal Naval Air Stations in WW2 ???
I thought they were Radar stations (training purposes), but now I have been told they are Radio stations!!!! Help
This photo is at Stretton, I am just using it as an example ad the was a near identical one at HMS Ringtail at Burscough. I have a photo of this one on the way dated 1945, but there seems a little confusion as to what the buildings are exactly.
Can anyone help?
It was the RADAR site, here (http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=53.33025468507074&lon=-2.5370317697525024&gz=19&oz=8>=1). Notable as it was the first to house joint military and civil air traffic controllers when it became "Northern RADAR".
The picket post and tractor shed still exist in reasonable condition. The radio huts were in very poor condition last time i was up there.
The wireless transmitter site had a single building, here (http://wtp2.appspot.com/wheresthepath.htm?lat=53.35591132205887&lon=-2.5477713346481323&gz=19&oz=9>=1), with the aerial arrays around the outside of the visible rectangular area.
Also see: http://www.airfieldinformationexchange.org/community/showthread.php?3995-Northern-Radar-Antrobus-%28Stretton%29
Visited Stretton on the 21st April. Access is very easy via the eastern entrance which is part of the peri track extention and is now frequently used by dog walkers
rear entrance to the Type B fighter pen shelter
inside the Type B fighter pen shelter
The Shell buildings have been attacked by the local youths
eastern observation room
western observation room
southern taxi way looking west
southern taxi way looking east
front entrance to the Type B fighter pen shelter
hangar on the private strip that uses part of the NE taxy way as a runway
CFM Shadow on the NE private strip
looking down the main runway from the eastern end
SW taxy way
There is now a microlight strip just outside of the SW boundary of the old airfield know as Barley Hay
thanks for looking
Can anyone give me any idea of how many hangars were built at Stretton? Also, how many still survive?
From the two Admiralty Controlled Books:
4 Squadron 60 by 70 by 20 ft
4 Squadron 60 by 70 by 17 ft
1 Blister under construction
One ARS (185 by 105) on north side of airfield at repair yard (storage under construction - planned for 25 aircraft)
4 Teesside 'S' 60 by 70 by 20 ft
6 Mains 60 by 70 by 17 ft
1 Blister for ATC gliders
Workshops at repair yard. (Storage now planned for 300 aircraft)
I had the opportunity to visit this place today, wow what a huge site! I did not expect it to be this big and in such a good condition.
Will be going back soon, I am after a site layout or map if anybody can help?
A few weeks ago my son and I called in on a few airfields enroute from Fife to Dorset for the Swanage Railway Diesel Gala, Stretton was the first we went to. We didn't have a great deal of time so just a few images from locations seen before.
Looking west from the threshold of Runway 28
Looking east from the threshold of Runway 10
The intersection of Runways 10/28 and 03/21 from the threshold of 10
Runway 10 threshold
At the gate by the 10 threshold off the road was a note of proposed planning consent for a car park on the airfield which included an underground section. The date on the letter was recent and I'm kicking myself for not taking a photo of it. I have looked on Cheshire Council's website at their planning applications and can not find any details of it. I was starting to doubt myself but my son confirmed it.
.......... I have looked on Cheshire Council's website at their planning applications and can not find any details of it. I was starting to doubt myself but my son confirmed it.
Jules, it will not be either of the Cheshire planning departments. Application will be via Warrington and may refer to the YOI or industrial estate on the west side of the M56 rather than the area where you saw the notice as they tend to post them on several gateways around the old airfield boundary.
Planning application is 2014/23332 and is for an office block with underground car storage/display area . Involves removal of some of the peritrack, the remaining fuelling apron (probably also the ADI block but that wasn't obvious as I read through it), the remaining bomb store building and removal of the trashed Shell Oils test buildings. Landscaping and new entrance. The two remaining dispersal pens will not be removed.
Essentially it's a re-hash of all of the previous applications to begin the creation of a motor racing experience centre.
Probably the thin edge of the wedge and to me the loss of the open space is more significant than the loss in terms of the airfield.
Thanks very much for the information, very interesting. And it confirms I'm going nuts.......well not yet anyway:lol:
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