I'm sure most people here know the background of Hooton Park and Hooton Hall, but for anyone who doesn't, here is a very brief summary:
There have been two Hooton Halls, the first was built in 1488 and lasted until 1778 when the then owner, Sir William Stanley, had it demolished and a new mansion built from Storeton Stone. The house stood in 1,000 acres of Parkland.
In order to clear family debts, the estate was sold in the 19th century to Richard Naylor, a wealthy Liverpool banker. He enlarged and remodelled the house, and established a race course and polo ground on the estate. Hooton Hall in 1914
In 1914, the hall and the estate were requisitioned by the Government for use as a military training ground. The 18th Battalion of the Kings Liverpool Regiment were stationed there. After their departure, the site was used as an aerodrome by the Royal Flying Corps. Many hundreds of pilots were trained at Hooton Park up until its closure in 1919. They left behind three 'Belfast Truss' hangars.
In 1927 the site was bought by Mr George Dawson, who tried to persuade Liverpool Corporation to use the site as a new Liverpool Airport. In fact, Hooton Park was the official Liverpool Airport from 1930 until Speke was opened in 1933.
Mr Dawson also helped to finance the Comper Aircraft and Pobjoy Airmotors factories in the old hangars. Comper Aircraft built the Swift light aircraft, these were powered by the radial piston engines built by Pobjoy in the hangar next door. Comper C.L.A.7 Swift 1930
During this period the aerodrome was visited by many well known aviation names, including Amy Johnson, Sir Alan Cobham and Sir Sefton Brackner. During 1934 Midland and Scottish Air Ferries operated daily services to Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. On 1st August 1929, the Prince of Wales flew into Hooton on his way to the World Scout Jamboree at Arrowe Park. Midland & Scottish Air Ferries plane at Hooton
From 1936 Hooton was home to No 610 (County of Chester) Squadron of the Auxiliary Air Force. The squadron flew biplane bombers, but just before the second world war they were equipped with Spitfires.
In the second world war Hooton played a role in the Battle of the Atlantic, with aircraft protecting convoys and shipping between South Wales and Scotland. Hooton was later used as an aircraft store and dismantling site. Over 500 aircraft, including Halifax heavy bombers made their final flights into Hooton, there to be scrapped.
After the war Hooton remained an RAF Station and was home to the Meteors of 610 and 611 squadrons and the Austers off 663 Squadron (all of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force). There was an annual air show which drew vast crowds. The 1954 show was marred by the crash of a Meteor of 610 which killed the pilot. Gloster Meteor
During the war and in the post war period the aerodrome also housed Martin Hearn Ltd, who, at their peak, employed 5000 people repairing and servicing RAF aircraft.
In 1956 government cuts led to the disbanding of the squadrons and the closure of the RAF station. This ended Hooton Park's days as an aerodrome.
Following the closure, part of the site was used for the Cheshire Show for a few years, then Vauxhall Motors bought the site and, at a cost of £66 million, built their new factory.
In 1999 Vauxhall applied to extend car parking facilities at the plant, this would involve the demolition of the three grade 2 listed first world war hangars. As a result of the campaign launched by the Griffin Trust and the North West Aviation Heritage Museum, Vauxhall revised their plans, leaving the hangars untouched.