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Stow Maries Home Defence Aerodrome


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#1 12th East Surrey

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 10:30 PM

Situated within the Parish of Purleigh, near Maldon in Essex, stand the remains of buildings that once made up a front line Home Defence Aerodrome. Built by the RAF towards the end of the First World War the aerodrome was abandoned in 1919 and has remained within the ownership of the same farming family ever since. The majority of the original buildings remain but have been adapted to a small extent over the years for farming use. This has not however changed the essential feel of the place and visitors are always amazed at how atmospheric the site remains.

The aerodrome was the home of 37 (Home Defence) Squadron, Royal Flying Corps and then after the 1st April 1918 37 Squadron Royal Air Force. It has many local connections that may also be visited.

The site has now been purchased by Mr Steve Wilson and Mr Russell Savory of RSPerformance. Mr Wilson and Mr Savory are bespoke vehicle builders who plan to move their business to the site. Their company manufacture in the region of just eight vehicles per year for specific clients.

The new owners are also aviation and history enthusiasts who plan to restore this unique site to as near its original state as possible. They emphasise that this is not a development project for short term gain but a sympathetic restoration for visitors from home and abroad to enjoy for the long term future.

It is estimated that the restoration will take two years to complete and when finished will provide an authentic taste of the atmosphere it originally held during its operational existence from 1916 to 1919. The site itself is believed to be fairly unique in that few, if any WW1 dated sites exist in their original form. Others have either disappeared or have been developed since the end of the Great War and bear little resemblance to their original appearance.

Upon the sites completion it is planned to provide a Museum plus guided tours and lectures on the sites history. Mr Savory also has a keen interest in wildlife so in addition to the historical facilities it is planned to have a visitors centre for the study of local nature and wildlife.

The site is currently being cleared. A website is being launched on or about the 19th February 2009 to keep interested parties up to speed with the project. A webcam will be available to view the work on site. A history and any project updates will also appear.

This is an exciting project for historians, aviation and wildlife enthusiasts alike. It will provide a unique facility within not only Essex but the Country as a whole and it is hoped that it will plug a gap in the architectural history of the nation. It is also hoped that such a unique site will draw visitors from near and far, benefitting the local community as a whole.

Please visit the website for more news as and when it becomes available on or about the 19th February. WWW.stowmaries.com.

Ivor Dallinger . Stow Maries Aerodrome Consultant and Museum Curator



#2 Ice tiger

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 10:47 PM

Ivor

Welcome to the forum

All sounds very promising. Please keep us updated

Andy


#3 Adrian Roberts

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 12:40 AM

Ivor
I don't live too far away; I look forward to being able to visit!
I hope the credit crunch doesn't cause too many headaches!

Adrian

#4 Brian_Curragh

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 04:08 PM

Ivor

Is the site visible on Google Earth? If so, can you give me some pointers to find it?

If you have no objections, I will add the site to the collection of existing Great War sites in the UK - see this thread for more details of the project Great War Sites in the UK

Regards
Brian

#5 David Faulder

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 05:10 PM

http://www.multimap....42:18|Purleigh| ??
There is a possible small clue!

David

Edited by David Faulder, 16 February 2009 - 05:20 PM.


#6 Brian_Curragh

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 05:30 PM

QUOTE (David Faulder @ Feb 16 2009, 05:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
http://www.multimap....42:18|Purleigh| ??
There is a possible small clue!

David

David

Either the area to the north of Hackmans Lane (water tower at western end) - or the strange mowed area 1 mile ESE of the village (next to a wood) - either of those??

Brian

(I have a mild cold today so that's my excuse if I am missing something obvious!)

PS - now I understand!

#7 12th East Surrey

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 06:13 PM

Its http://maps.google.c...5...mp;t=h&z=17

Zoom in. You will see how much is left. Only the grain tower is new. (thats coming down) and we are looking for two twin aeroplane sheds for the site. Any idea where there might be some please?

Brian, Please feel free to add it to your site. It is probably the best preserved RFC/RAF site in the country as far as original buildings go. Keep an eye on www.stowmaries.com for further up dates

#8 Brian_Curragh

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 06:30 PM

Ivor

Thanks - I have added the site to the Great War Sites in the UK map.

Regards
Brian

#9 maldon

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 06:33 PM

QUOTE (STOW CURATOR @ Feb 15 2009, 10:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Situated within the Parish of Purleigh, near Maldon in Essex, stand the remains of buildings that once made up a front line Home Defence Aerodrome. Built by the RAF towards the end of the First World War the aerodrome was abandoned in 1919 and has remained within the ownership of the same farming family ever since. The majority of the original buildings remain but have been adapted to a small extent over the years for farming use. This has not however changed the essential feel of the place and visitors are always amazed at how atmospheric the site remains.

The aerodrome was the home of 37 (Home Defence) Squadron, Royal Flying Corps and then after the 1st April 1918 37 Squadron Royal Air Force. It has many local connections that may also be visited.

The site has now been purchased by Mr Steve Wilson and Mr Russell Savory of RSPerformance. Mr Wilson and Mr Savory are bespoke vehicle builders who plan to move their business to the site. Their company manufacture in the region of just eight vehicles per year for specific clients.

The new owners are also aviation and history enthusiasts who plan to restore this unique site to as near its original state as possible. They emphasise that this is not a development project for short term gain but a sympathetic restoration for visitors from home and abroad to enjoy for the long term future.

It is estimated that the restoration will take two years to complete and when finished will provide an authentic taste of the atmosphere it originally held during its operational existence from 1916 to 1919. The site itself is believed to be fairly unique in that few, if any WW1 dated sites exist in their original form. Others have either disappeared or have been developed since the end of the Great War and bear little resemblance to their original appearance.

Upon the sites completion it is planned to provide a Museum plus guided tours and lectures on the sites history. Mr Savory also has a keen interest in wildlife so in addition to the historical facilities it is planned to have a visitors centre for the study of local nature and wildlife.

The site is currently being cleared. A website is being launched on or about the 19th February 2009 to keep interested parties up to speed with the project. A webcam will be available to view the work on site. A history and any project updates will also appear.

This is an exciting project for historians, aviation and wildlife enthusiasts alike. It will provide a unique facility within not only Essex but the Country as a whole and it is hoped that it will plug a gap in the architectural history of the nation. It is also hoped that such a unique site will draw visitors from near and far, benefitting the local community as a whole.

Please visit the website for more news as and when it becomes available on or about the 19th February. WWW.stowmaries.com.

Ivor Dallinger . Stow Maries Aerodrome Consultant and Museum Curator


Hello Ivor. Haven't heard about you for some time. I too live very near - Maldon - and my forthcoming book on Maldon, Heybridge and the Great War will feature the activities of 37 (HD) Squadron - mainly Goldhanger - but Stow, Rochford and Woodham Mortimer will get a mention.

Regards.
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#10 12th East Surrey

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 09:16 PM

Hello Stephen, I have been keeping a low profile. Look forward to seeing the book.

Best wishes

Ivor

#11 maldon

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 10:16 PM

QUOTE (STOW CURATOR @ Feb 16 2009, 09:16 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Hello Stephen, I have been keeping a low profile. Look forward to seeing the book.

Best wishes

Ivor



Thanks Ivor - let's keep in touch.

Best regards.
Stephen.

#12 Smithmaps

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 10:45 PM

QUOTE (STOW CURATOR @ Feb 16 2009, 06:13 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Its http://maps.google.c...5...mp;t=h&z=17

Zoom in. You will see how much is left. Only the grain tower is new. (thats coming down) and we are looking for two twin aeroplane sheds for the site. Any idea where there might be some please?

Brian, Please feel free to add it to your site. It is probably the best preserved RFC/RAF site in the country as far as original buildings go. Keep an eye on www.stowmaries.com for further up dates



This forum thread may interest you, the last remaining Bessoneau WW1 hanger at RAF Odiham has recently been condemned by the MOD, but that is not to say that it is not very saveable given the right attention.

WW1 Bessoneau Hanger

Guy

#13 NigelS

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 10:47 PM

Fascinating! well worth comparing the modern day satellite with the old OS maps at

http://www.old-maps....exmappage2.aspx

enter co-ordinates 581700 200100 [maps 5, 1924 (Zoomable) & map 6, 1922]

Look forward to viewing the website and watching progress; good luck with the project.

NigelS

#14 TJJ

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 03:15 PM

This is absolutely fascinating. I am a pilot who flies from North Weald, which was another 1916 Home Defence aerodrome. On our CAA charts - both 1:500,000 and 1:250,000 - Stow Maries was marked as a glider cable-launch site until the last year or so, and I have always avoided the area for that reason as cables are an obvious danger. But it seems that all it has been used for is model flying.

The charts also show disused airfields, of which there are many in the surrounding area like Birch, Boreham, Rivenhall and Bradwell Bay. Some of these are only visible as crop marks with small bits of peri track still used. Definitely a mystery that Stowe Maries wasn't shown thus. On the current charts it is left off altogether.

Richard Flagg's website has some excellent pictures:

http://www.airfields...t/c1614513.html

Having been brought up on a farm in deepest Wiltshire I can understand how buildings have survived as farmers just tend to leave things and make use of what they can. Even so, this is an amazing site and should definitely be preserved.

#15 maldon

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Posted 17 February 2009 - 10:48 PM

QUOTE (TJJ @ Feb 17 2009, 03:15 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This is absolutely fascinating. I am a pilot who flies from North Weald, which was another 1916 Home Defence aerodrome. On our CAA charts - both 1:500,000 and 1:250,000 - Stow Maries was marked as a glider cable-launch site until the last year or so, and I have always avoided the area for that reason as cables are an obvious danger. But it seems that all it has been used for is model flying.

The charts also show disused airfields, of which there are many in the surrounding area like Birch, Boreham, Rivenhall and Bradwell Bay. Some of these are only visible as crop marks with small bits of peri track still used. Definitely a mystery that Stowe Maries wasn't shown thus. On the current charts it is left off altogether.

Richard Flagg's website has some excellent pictures:

http://www.airfields...t/c1614513.html

Having been brought up on a farm in deepest Wiltshire I can understand how buildings have survived as farmers just tend to leave things and make use of what they can. Even so, this is an amazing site and should definitely be preserved.


Good one TJJ. I agree that we are really lucky in this area for aviation history. Not really for this forum but the other sites you mention are equally facinating not least Birch and the US link with the Normandy Landings and Bradwell Bay with Bostons and Mosquitos. It's great to see it all from the air. One of Bader's men crash landed at Stow during the Battle of Britain.

Regards.
SPN
Maldon

#16 lelly

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 09:56 AM

I visited the public exhibition yesterday and it looks like a really exciting project! Congratulations to evrone who have got the plan this far! The best part was hearing that the money to cover the cost is already in the bank - no trusting to grants and handouts - the usual stumbling point of restoration projects. I will certainly follow the progress through the website, but how about a TV programme, anyone got any contacts? If we are subjected to the joy of watching paint dry while makeover programmes decorate someones lounge - how much better to watch the makeover of a WW1 Airfield?

#17 12th East Surrey

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 11:23 AM

The website is now open at http://stowmaries.com/

Some of the information and the filmed tour on display yesterday is available to watch.

Thank you to everyone who attended. It was great response and very encouraging.

The website is still undergoing additional work but it is hoped to be fully operational soon.

In the meantime all the very best from Stow Maries and RSPerformance.

#18 maldon

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 06:05 PM

QUOTE (STOW CURATOR @ Feb 20 2009, 11:23 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The website is now open at http://stowmaries.com/

Some of the information and the filmed tour on display yesterday is available to watch.

Thank you to everyone who attended. It was great response and very encouraging.

The website is still undergoing additional work but it is hoped to be fully operational soon.

In the meantime all the very best from Stow Maries and RSPerformance.


Ivor - brillant website. Well done - you are doing the place proud.

Regards
SPN
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#19 12th East Surrey

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 06:27 PM

Thanks Stephen, More to come with more updated features etc. Site Cam coming too so you can watch the work.

Best wishes

Ivor

#20 Smithmaps

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 06:36 PM

Ivor

Fab we site, I am very impressed!

Do you intend to operate any aircraft from the site, and on what basis?

Guy

#21 maldon

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 07:11 PM

QUOTE (STOW CURATOR @ Feb 20 2009, 06:27 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Thanks Stephen, More to come with more updated features etc. Site Cam coming too so you can watch the work.

Best wishes

Ivor



Ivor - just a thought. If in the future you ever fancy holding lectures on site - I am up to giving a talk on my book 'Maldon, Dengie and Battles in the Skies (1939-45)' which mentions the BoB incident at Stow and (all being well re. publication) my forthcoming 'Maldon, Heybridge and the Great War (1914-1918)' which will mention 37 (HD) Squadron at Goldhanger and the Mick Mannock story.

Keep that in mind and all power to you re. the work.

Regards.
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#22 12th East Surrey

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 07:55 PM

QUOTE (maldon @ Feb 20 2009, 07:11 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ivor - just a thought. If in the future you ever fancy holding lectures on site - I am up to giving a talk on my book 'Maldon, Dengie and Battles in the Skies (1939-45)' which mentions the BoB incident at Stow and (all being well re. publication) my forthcoming 'Maldon, Heybridge and the Great War (1914-1918)' which will mention 37 (HD) Squadron at Goldhanger and the Mick Mannock story.

Keep that in mind and all power to you re. the work.

Regards.
SPN
Maldon


Thanks Stephen, once we get underway I will let you know and make the arrangements.

Very best wishes

#23 12th East Surrey

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Posted 20 February 2009 - 07:58 PM

QUOTE (Smithmaps @ Feb 20 2009, 06:36 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Ivor

Fab we site, I am very impressed!

Do you intend to operate any aircraft from the site, and on what basis?

Guy



It is hoped to replace the two twin aeroplane sheds. Then aircraft can be stored safely. It is hoped to attract period aircraft on a prior permission basis. There have been offers but it really depends on the permissions being granted.

As soon as I have more news then I will post it here. We go to Shuttleworth next week to look at the set up there.

#24 12th East Surrey

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Posted 27 February 2009 - 11:19 AM

Just to keep everyone updated on the progress. Work on the land drainage has begun. We have approached RAF Odiham re the Bessanaeu Hanger that they are removing . Its a wee bit complicated at the mo but we are trying. I shall keep you updated.

#25 12th East Surrey

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Posted 02 March 2009 - 02:27 PM

Ok, here is the current situation with the Bessaneau. We are informed that there is a distinct possibility that it will go to New Zealand. An approach has been made by a Company who wish to move it to the other side of the world to go with their vintage aeroplane collection. We have informed the MOD of our interest but cannot match the owner of the New Zealand company for finance.

Our view is that it should stay in this country where it will be erected on a genuine WW1 aerodrome in the exact location of a previously wartime erected Bessaneau, for all to see.

We are seeking support in this view.

If you share our view please say so or the hanger might be lost.