14 thoughts on “Thornaby Airfield c1958

  1. My father Jacob Wilson (builders labourer) was transferred from RAF Filton, Bristol, to RAF Thornaby, there’s a quite a long story attached to this transfer concerning a Polish male person thought to be a German spy who was arrested by the Police after he was discovered by my sister Elizabeth (Betty) Wilson using a morse code radio transmitter, and, to stop gossip in the area about this arrest, my father who had reported it to the Police was transferred from Bristol with his family to Thornaby-on-Tees, his home town RAF station. Sister Betty, age 14?, had heard this man using the radio set. The Police kept wartime arrests secret and presumably watched the suspect property and mail to see who else might turn up and be captured in the net. At Thornaby Aerodrome my father worked on the camp, and at night assisted an aircraft searchlight battery crew, In 1927 he was with the DLI in Afghanistan, India, a British soldier guarding the Khyber Pass, his brother Bob Wilson was before the war, the former manager of the Flour Mills, Victoria Bridge, Chapel Street, Thornaby.


  2. The photograph was taken at the last RAF Thornaby At Home Day which was held on Saturday 14 September 1957 and shows a Gloster Javelin.
    The Javelin was an all weather fighter aircraft with a crew of two , a pilot and a navigator/radar operator and this particular aircraft was an FAW Mark 5 , serial number XA647 of 151 Squadron based at RAF Leuchars near St Andrews in Scotland .
    At the time 1261 (Thornaby) Squadron ATC were based on the aerodrome and their CO was F/L JA Ivison .


  3. When I was a young lad I roller-skated to Thornaby Aerodrome (from Hartburn Avenue) to watch from the road-side bi-planes doing circuits and bumps – this must have been just pre-1939 as security measures had not been put in place.


  4. So, when did the airfield close then. I sat on the top deck of a No.8 bus which had to stop a red traffic light whilst a plane which approached us, turned on the turning circle and then vanished down the runway. This would be approximately 1970-71 ish. Any ideas, chaps?


    • The airfield finally closed operationally in 1958 but remained under Care and Maintenance for sometime after that whilst equipment and personnel were transferred elsewhere and the airfield prepared for disposal .
      What was left was auctioned off in the early 1960’s with the wooden guardroom being bought by the owner of a poultry farm near Northallerton . He claimed he had spent so much time in it that he wanted to own it ! I have seen an auction catalogue and reports of the sale did appear in the local press .

      After the RAF vacated the airfield , and even while they were there , the southern parts of the runway were the Teesside Industrial Estate is now were used for motorcycle and motor car racing with at least one fatality occurring there when a car went off the runway and crashed into Stainsby Beck .

      The new housing estate in the Tedder Avenue , Trenchard Avenue and Cunningham Drive areas was built in the mid-1960’s and the Basselton Court Estate probably shortly after so definitely no flying from Thornaby in 1970-71 and probably not even 1960-61 but 1958 at the very latest . Probably !


  5. Javelins were mainly based at Middleton St George.

    At about this time Thornaby was being used on a temporary basis for Hunter Mk 6 single seat fighters, while Middleton St George was being extended to take the V-Bombers

    The Javelin was a somewhat disappointing night and all weather fighter that would have been hard pressed to intercept the Russian Jet bombers of the time.


    • Yes I can remember hunters operating from RAF Thornaby in the middle fifties I was a school boy at the time we used get very close to the runways to watch the aircraft


  6. I remember this aircraft as I have a photograph which I took from a different angle. The aircraft in question is a Gloster Javelin.
    I knew a Ray Fulton when i was a member of 1261 squadron ATC at Thornaby, he was a sergeant in the same squadron.


    • I was at school with Ray Fulton I was also in 1261 squadron ATC with my good friend Lennie Mcquade who joined the RAF as a boy entrant I remember Sargent Jackson and flight Sargent Holmes


      • Hi
        I’m Flight Sergeant Holmes. My time in 1261 Sqn ATC was a very happy time. When I was at school, St.Mary’s College, Middlesbrough, I was friends with two students who were also interested in aviation. They suggested that the three of us join the ATC, so we turned up at Thornaby Aerodrome and found that the other two were several months too young to join. So, only I joined and when the other two became of age, they had lost interest and didn’t join.

        I flew in many aircraft from Thornaby and thoroughly enjoyed the time at Summer camps. I will upload some Sqn group photos to show old friends.

        I attended 645 Sqn. Royal Air force gliding school at Catterick and gained my glider pilot’s wings. They must have taught me well because on numerous occasions I have been in light aircraft as a passenger and have been allowed to fly them quite successfully. Oh happy days.

        I remember a Sqn of Hunter aircraft coming to Thornaby for their summer camp, I seem to recall that they were Swedish. Cadets sometimes helped out the ground crew and one Sunday I was allowed to dip the noses of the cannon shells into various coloured paint for air-to-air -firing at drogues. A Swedish pilot came up and requested that I dip them deeper into the paint so that they would show better on the drogue.

        608 RAAF were equipped with Vampire aircraft and one day an aircraft crash landed just short of the runway. The ORB states that this was due to engine malfunction, but I was allowed to inspect the aircraft as I was a cadet. A flight sergeant arrived to obtain a damage report and he said “a bloody good aircraft written off because the pilot didn’t look at his fuel guage”. Possibly a cover up???

        Enjoyed every minute even though I never went into the RAF.


    • The year was most probably 1958 … according to the airfield station log book the last entry in the logbook was made on the 13th October 1958 when the station was disbanded … according to Wikipedia.


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