Saturday, 26 March 2016

When we had our aerodrome

There are always more stories to tell, and I think it’s time for one on our own aerodrome.

I first came across Hough End Aerodrome while reading articles by Nora Templar* who lived at Dog House Farm for 47 years.

She remembered “the landing of the first small aeroplane in the fields, the forerunner of many between 1916 and 1918. Manchester’s first aerodrome was built by the Government at Hough End.  

The first planes were delivered by train.  Pilots came in low over the Dog House chimneys and waved from their Avro’s and Handley Pages.” **

It may well be that the plane that took our first picture of the aerodrome had already flown over Nora's home.  It is a wonderful picture showing not only the hangers and admin buildings but a military aircraft on the ground.

The aerodrome was on what is now Hough End Playing Fields and was opened in May 1918 by the War Department for the assembly and delivery of aircraft to the RAF.

The planes were built by A.V. Roe & Company at Newton Heath and the National Aircraft Factory No 2 at Heaton Chapel and were brought in sections by railway to the Alexander Park station which was just 300 yards away.

After the war it became a civilian airfield and from 1922 flew a service down to Croydon Airport near London, and as Nora remembered was used by aircraft competing in the King's Cup Race air races in 1922 and 1923. “There were also a number of flying displays at the aerodrome and the Lancashire Aero Club, the oldest flying club in Britain, was formed at and operated from Alexandra Park until 1924, when it moved to Woodford Aerodrome.”***

But the aerodrome closed in 1924.  Like our brick works it had been given a set life by the Egerton estate who leased the land on condition that it ceased being used five years after the end of the war. So on August 24th 1924 the place closed and the hangers and workshops were demolished.

Today nothing remains save two plaques recording the presence of the aerodrome.  One in the sports pavilion at Hough End Playing Fields and the other in the grounds of No. 184 (South Manchester) Squadron, Air Cadets in Hough End Crescent.

There are of course a few photographs and there is also one special picture.  It is a pencil sketch of the aerodrome as it was being demolished and what makes it special and I think unique is that it was drawn by Nora Templar’s father which I suppose takes us full circle.

Pictures; courtesy of Nora Templar and now in the Lloyd collection

**Chorlton Journal 1977

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