Thursday, 9 June 2011

Book- Bookley Explains airfields’ history (Nottinghamshire)

A booklet documenting the rich aviation history of Newark and Nottinghamshire has been unveiled at Newark Air Museum.

At the launch of the booklet, Airfields and Memorials, at Newark Air Museum are (left) county councillor Mr Vincent Dobson and project co-ordinator Mr Howard Heeley.

The 48-page booklet, Airfields and Memorials, produced by the county council, documents all 17 major military airfields, 11 recreational flying sites and 19 memorials in Nottinghamshire.

It explains how, during the second world war, Nottinghamshire was one of the major locations for training volunteers to become bomber crew. It was a role that saw an influx of young volunteers, initially from Poland, followed by the Commonwealth countries.

The booklet provides a snapshot history of the airfields they were based at, providing information such as the nationalities of the airmen, the squadrons, location and current status.

Many airfields in the Newark area are included, such as Balderton, Langar, Orston, Ossington, Syerston and Winthorpe, now Newark Air Museum.

The museum’s archives and photograph collection was used to help collate the booklet.

Project co-ordinator and museum trustee Mr Howard Heeley said it brought everything together for the first time.

“It is not just a local thing though. We are trying to spread the message nationally and internationally,” he said.

“We had people come to train in Nottinghamshire from all over the world, from places like Australia, New Zealand and Poland. There is a truly international story to be told and we are trying to do that. It will encourage people to come and look at the airfields and memorials.

“80% of the copies we have sent out so far have gone outside the county and ten have gone to Australia and Canada.”

Mr Heeley said in the case of Winthorpe, 1,000 new crewmen rotated through the site every six weeks during the war and 25,000 people trained there in total during the course of the war.

“It was like a small town. The runway went out towards the A46 and Langford Hall was the officers’ quarters,” he said.

“There was a massive transient population who all knew the county. Anyone researching their family history might make those connections, and perhaps come to look at a memorial or visit.”

Newark county councillor Mr Vincent Dobson was based at Winthorpe as RAF groundcrew in 1954.

He said: “I spent around three months at Winthorpe and I also remember when there was an airfield at Balderton, before I joined the forces.”

A total of 10,000 copies of the booklet, which also lists memorials to airmen, is available free of charge from the air museum and from county Tourist Information Centres and libraries.

The museum will send copies to people on request. Visit

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