View Full Version : West Hartlepool
A 1950s shot of West Hartlepool aerodrome. This is sited not far from another pre-WW2 Hartlepool aerodrome.
Not very well used during WW2 and spent some time under the control of Coastal Command.
Post War in went under the name West Hartlepool Municipal Airport but eventually closed to be covered by huge steel works. The steel works now seems to be dissapearing as well now.
I have seen the name Seaton Snook implied as a WW2 airfield site. Was this an alternative name for West Hartlepool?
Is it not a radar site at Hartlepool?
There was a GCI radar in the area during WW2. The post war (Cold War) site was a GCI (R3) ROTOR station but was there something aviation related in the area during WW2?
EDIT: Or a military establishment other than the radar site?
The WWII GCI Happidrome exists here (http://maps.live.com/default.aspx?v=2&FORM=LMLTCP&cp=t36gy1gx08z9&style=b&lvl=2&tilt=-90&dir=0&alt=-1000&phx=0&phy=0&phscl=1&scene=22175738&encType=1) (centre of screen)
The Rotor bungalow was extant in the late 1990s but was demolished some time later.
RAF West Hartlepool was a satellite of Thornaby during WWII.
(Was once 'reliably' informed that Rotor stood for 'Refurbishment Of Terminally Old Radar'. Not really convinced.)
Seaton Snook is shown in one source on the 'customer' list of a Fuel Distribution Depot. Perhaps they supplied free petrol for the GCI bosses cars!
Ironically, the ROTOR system was planned to have new state of the art radars but delivery lagged so much they had to fall back on old radars!
The airfield at West Hartlepool (Greatham) was little more than a large field with a single grass strip constructed at some time in the 1930s and officially opened as a civic airport on Saturday, April 15, 1938 by HM Secretary of State for Air Sir Kingsley Wood MP.
A local newspaper recorded that :
The day's events got underway with passenger flights for five shillings in either a De Havilland Express Air Liner, a Monospar, Cadet and a Fox Moth which was a five-seater biplane.
At 2pm a Vega Gull aircraft took to the air for a demonstration flight. Following this flight was a parachute descent by a Miss Ray Clark who was to ascend in a De Havilland Tiger Moth piloted by Unit Leader W M Mackay. At over 2,000 feet Miss Clark was to leave the aeroplane and open her airchute several seconds after she cleared the aircraft and was to attempt to land as close as possible to the centre of the airport. Following this was the Tipsybatics diplay in a Tipsy two-seater plane.
To add to the day this was then followed by a Royal Air Force display of selected bomber and fighter squadrons and a fly past of new RAF aircraft.
At 4.30pm Sir Kingsley Wood departed by aeroplane with his party that included the Marquess of Londonderry. Later that afternoon there was an aerobatic display by the RAF, another parachute descent by Miss Clark and a live radio broadcast of an instructor and pupil flying lesson.
At the outbreak of war the airfield was requisitioned as a satellite for No 6 OTU at Thornaby but it was of little use being just a small grass field, and was instead utilised when required by fighter squadrons for patrols along the County Durham/North Yorkshire coast. There seem to have been no permanent facilities nor a permanent presence there, and facitilities ended with a Flying Control hut. It is presumed that tented accommodation would have been provided by Thornaby when required. The only recorded detachments based there seem to have been two Spitfire squadrons, Nos 243 and 403 squadrons from Catterick during the summer of 1942.
On 1 November 1942 No 1613 (Anti-Aircraft Co-operation) Flight formed at Greatham with Henleys and provision must have been made for additional facilities during their stay. In February 1943 No 1613 moved to Driffield and No 26 Gliding School was formed at Greatham by October with Cadet I, II, TX.3 Falcon III and King Kite gliders. Itís tenure lasted until May 1944 when it moved to Durham (although it may have continued to use the site until January 1946).
Otherwise Greatham seems to have been forgotten about, but was kept on the books by the RAF until the end of the war.
Desperately looking for a plan of the airfield - any plan - doesnt need to be too detailed
anyone got one ???
Hi Chris, have you tried Hendon? They hold site plans, otherwise the local council archives may have one. sorry i vant help further.
have aquired a plan - thanks to all.
the opening of West Hartlepool 1939
text from FLIGHT. APRIL 20, 1939.
In order to take advantage of the increased delivery which
will now be practicable, large additional orders for aircraft
are to be placed in this country., This statement was made
by Sir Kingsley Wood at the luncheon which preceded the
official opening of West Hartlepool's new civic airport at
Greatham last Saturday. " Our programme last year was
by far the largest in the history of the R.A.F.," he said.
" It was more than double that of any previous year, and,
more than 17 times that of any typical pre-expansion year."
Sir Kingsley went on to say that though the R.A.F. entries
were satisfactory, more than 70,000 men and boys would be
needed for the Volunteer Reserve and for the auxiliary forces
during the present year. Pilots for the R.A.F. Reserve were
Lord Londonderry, a former Air Minister, who, as honorary
president of the flying club to be established at West Hartlepool,
was " greeted as landlord should greet a good prospective
tenant," said that while he was at the Air Ministry they
were faced with financial difficulties in regard to the development
of civil aviation, but, even so, he had felt that they
should avoid what he would term spoon-feeding. Local authorities
were left to exercise their initiative, and West Hartlepool
had shown it was not lacking in that respect.
The Air Minister, who flew from London in an Air Council
D.H.86 B, was accompanied by Lord Londonderry, Lt.-Col.
Sir Francis Shelmerdine (Director-General of Civil Aviation),
Air Marshal C. L. Courtney and Mr. F. H. Sanford (private
A wind strength of something like 40 m.p.h. rather upset
the programme for the aerial display which preceded and followed
the luncheon, but the pilot of a visiting Spitfire was at
least able to show the machine's paces downwind. The
Battles of No. 185 (B) Squadron, from Thornaby, which has
just been " a d o p t e d " by West Hartlepool under the recent
scheme, flew past in squadron formation.
Prior to his departure the Air Minister made a quick tour
of the airport, which has been built at a cost of £40,000. There
is hangarage for 36 machines, two hangars having been put up
by the Air Ministry for the R.A.F. Volunteer Reserve School,
and a third is to be erected for the machines of the flying
club and visiting aircraft. Arrangements have been made for
the new club to train members of the Civil Air Guard
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