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#204963 - 7th Feb 2008 2:50pm Bidston Aerodrome *****
Doctor_Frick Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 24th Nov 2007
Posts: 308
Loc: Prenton
I bet not many of you knew that Bidston had an old aerodrome did you ! - Im helping my mate with his website which is about the History of Wirral. I though i would share some of our info with you as there seems to be a lot of interest about the History of Bidston :


"Easter 1920 – Bidston Aerodrome opened
Great Northern Aerial Company of Liverpool acquired 35 acres of land near Bidston railway
station in September 1919, for an aerodrome to be used as headquarters for their proposed
services linking numerous cities around the country to “health & leisure” resorts. During
the 1920 Easter holiday, between Wednesday 31st March and Saturday 10th April, they organised
an Aerial Gala, to mark the opening of the aerodrome, it would then close until Whitson,
then reopen and continue throughout the summer. Admission to the Gala was 1/- (5p),
with a three-penny tax. Unfortunately they had not managed to put the finishing touches
to the aerodrome before it was opened, three hangars had almost been completed. It was
intended that the field would become permanent, and eventual be properly levelled, and made dry.

---------------------------//-----------------------------

Great things were being promised with the establishment of the aerodrome. Flights to London,
departing Bidston at 8.45am and arriving at the London aerodrome of Cricklewood at 10.45am,
this would allow “almost a full day of business”. The return journey it was suggested could
be made on the same day. This service was to link up with the London to Paris flight. This
started from Cricklewood at 11.30am and cost about £15. Enquires had been received from various
interested parties. One Liverpool business man, wanted to booked four trips each week to
London at £15 15s a journey, and a prominent medical men enquired as to the possibility of
undertaking long trips at short notice for urgent consultations or operations.
For the Gala, it was intended to get about twenty aircraft to the aerodrome, but the weather
interfered with the arrival of a number of aircraft from Blackpool and London. The weather
not only restricted flights but also decreased the attendance. How popular the Gala might have been,
is shown by the fact that on the Good Friday when the weather cleared up, 800 people paid
for admission and 51 passengers were carried for short trips.

---------------------------//-----------------------------

A full programme had been planned including “long flights”, with Blackpool as a favoured
destination at five guineas (£5.25) single and seven guineas (£7.35) return. Guinea (£1.05)
flights over the River Mersey would be available, and for those not minded to venture so far
a field, the thrills and sensation of flight would be provided by short “flips”. There were
also free flights to holders of lucky numbered admission tickets purchased in advanced.
Flying was of course the chief attraction, but to give the aerodrome the character of a
pleasure haunt, there were refreshments, dancing and music by the military band of the
Comrades of the Great War, all held in a large pavilion which had been erected.

---------------------------//-----------------------------

Opening Ceremony
At the opening ceremony, Mr. J.J. Beasley, the chairman of the Great Northern Aerial Company,
said that the company was trying to create popular interest in flying, and had established a
number of aerodromes throughout the country. They were conscious of the tremendous sacrifice,
which the flying man had made for their country during the Great War. He sincerely hoped
that the Government would back up the efforts of the civilian flying companies. He than asked the Mayor of
Birkenhead, Alderman J.H. McGaul to open the aerodrome. Alderman McGaul wished the company
every success and having expressed his, admiration for the airman went on to say. “I feel
that for certain purposes considering the great unrest and turmoil throughout the country,
that aviation is going to be our salvation. If we can come to a place of this description
when transport has been stopped between here, London, and Paris (There had been a good deal
of industrial unrest with a recent rail strike). If wires have been cut, and means of
communication are at the mercy of agitators who care not for the good of their country but
only for themselves. If we can come to loyal citizens at a place like this and book a passage
for a certain place, flying will have done a wonderful service on behalf of the rest of the Empire”.
He welcomed the construction of the aerodrome, because of it proximity to the borough over
which he presided and said he was sorry that their friends in Wallasey had prevented them
from including the aerodrome grounds in Birkenhead’s expansion scheme. He went on to say that
“The Government was perhaps not behaving as well as it might towards aviation, and it behoved
those interested to create such a feeling in the whole country that the value of aviation
would become apparent to every man in the street. If they did that, they would be doing a great
service, not only to aviation, but also to the nation. They would be doing something for
England as well as for themselves”. Mr J.S. Bumphrey of the International Aviation Company
in responding to a toast to the pilots described the obstacles placed by the Air Ministry
in the way of civilians who wished to purchase aircraft. He had set out to purchase one
with his naval gratuity. It took him six weeks to buy it and three months to obtain delivery.
The Air Ministry had refused to loan an aircraft to an aero club, but he had seen
500 machines being broken up at Aintree.

---------------------------//-----------------------------

Following the speeches, William Nichole attempted a flight, but days of continuous rain,
and a very heavy thunderstorm on the previous night, had made the ground so sodden, that,
although the aircraft could have taken off, it was considered advisable, not to risk the
possibility of a bad landing. Conditions did improve the next day to allow flying to commence.
On Thursday, Major H.S. Shields MC. of the Golden Eagle Aviation Co. Ltd. flew over from Blackpool
in a Bristol aircraft. Major Shields had been award the Military Cross (MC) for bringing down
the first Germany two seat Albatross aircraft behind British lines. He was twice mentioned
in dispatches and promoted to field rank in 1917 at the age of 21. He commanded a squadron,
which obtained 23 awards for gallantry. Since leaving the Royal Air Force in August 1919,
he had carried over 3,000 passengers in ex military De Havilland aircraft modified for carrying passengers.
On the Saturday, mist prevented any flying until 4.30pm when Lance Rimmer, took up two
passengers, a lady and gentleman who had motored up from Chester. The longest flight of the
afternoon was one taken by an ex-officer who having a badly damaged foot, hobbled to the aircraft
on crutches. Lance Rimmer took him for a “spin” over Wallasey and West Kirby, the passenger
voting it “A top hole stunt”. The pilots came from the International Aviation Company and
were all ex officers from the Royal Air Force, were they had been instructors and had amassed
over 1,100 hours of flying. They were G.S. Hughes, William Nichole, Norman Giroux, and Lance
Rimmer Norman Giroux later operated pleasure flights from the beach at Southport as Giro
Aviation and Lance Rimmer a local from Meols, would figure continuously in aviation activities
around The Wirral. Two of the aircraft used were ex-military Airco DH6, G-EARA
(ex-military serial C5527) and G-EARD (ex-military serial C7768). Bidston aerodrome, which
was overlooked by Bidston Hill, covered an area of some thirty-five acres of grassland lying
between Bidston railway station and the sand hills, a spot completely free from telegraph wires,
trees, and other obstacles. It was within two minutes walk from the railway station, and
was only a short distance from Hoylake Road, which was served by buses of Birkenhead
Corporation Transport, who had promised to transport the public to the aerodrome. There
are no records of the aerodrome reopening at Whit. The Bidston site would be considered
for possible use during the Second World War as a site for aircraft off loaded in Birkenhead
docks from ships that had transported them across the Atlantic from the USA."

---------------------------//-----------------------------

I have not been able to pin point the exact location of the aerodrome. Following an approach
to Bidston Golf club, I have established it was not located there, they had been in
existence since 1913. I think that it must have been located somewhere the near M53 and Bidston by-pass fly over


Regards

Doctor Frick


Edited by Mark (12th Feb 2008 3:14pm)
Edit Reason: added friendly formatting.
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#205036 - 7th Feb 2008 6:18pm Re: Bidston Aerodrome [Re: Doctor_Frick]
Mark Online   Reading


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Registered: 9th Nov 2003
Posts: 20962
Loc: Wirral
Never New any of that nor have i heard of it either?
I will read it again later, when i have more time.
Thanks.
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#205137 - 7th Feb 2008 11:23pm Re: Bidston Aerodrome [Re: Mark]
SoundLad Online   spooky

Are you SoNutz?
Forum Master

Registered: 22nd Aug 2007
Posts: 2987
Loc: Birkenhead, United Kingdom
Hmmm i wonder if the Aerodrome is where Tesco's is ? as the steel works which used to be there was dismantled piece by piece and shipped to hong kong.. Maybe the steel works brought the old Aerodrome and put it there for tempory??
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#205193 - 8th Feb 2008 8:05am Re: Bidston Aerodrome [Re: SoundLad]
jonno40 Offline
Forum Addict

Registered: 7th Jan 2008
Posts: 1232
Loc: wirral
done a little digging and there are references to the aerodrome being sited adjacent to bidston station ,now taking in to account the fact that there were no motorway or link roads then and the condition of the ground around the station the now tesco's site is quite possible
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#205212 - 8th Feb 2008 12:18pm Re: Bidston Aerodrome [Re: jonno40]
Brocks Offline
Smartchild

Registered: 11th Jan 2007
Posts: 520
Loc: Wirral
The docs piece says the field was between Bidston Hill and the sandhills. IMO Tescos is in the wrong direction. Towards the sandhils 2 minutes walk does put it squarely on the golf course.

I found these two links suggesting the same but theres is not supporting evidence.

http://www.content-delivery.co.uk/aviation/airfields/Bidston.html

http://www.abct.org.uk/page_498.html

I do play with a member at Bidston (golf that is) and he told me why the fairways all have deep furrows. Apparently in WWII it was done to prevent German places from landing in the area. So the ground was deemed suitable for aircraft in the 1940's. If the golf club are saying it wasn't there, I'd put it closer to Leaswoe road. With leasow road being so straight....could it have been the runway?
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#205225 - 8th Feb 2008 1:12pm Re: Bidston Aerodrome [Re: Brocks]
MerseyMan Offline

Smartchild

Registered: 17th Jan 2008
Posts: 526
Loc: Wallasey
.


Attachments: Viewing Permissions May Apply. Click Me
bidstonflying1.jpg

bidstonflying2.jpg




Edited by Mark (8th Feb 2008 1:40pm)
Edit Reason: trimed pictures

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#205226 - 8th Feb 2008 1:17pm Re: Bidston Aerodrome [Re: MerseyMan]
jonno40 Offline
Forum Addict

Registered: 7th Jan 2008
Posts: 1232
Loc: wirral
Couldnt have been Leasowe Road as the Council started a bus service down the road to Leasowe and Morteon Cross in 1920(see wallasey News charter post)but there are a lot of flat fields behind what is now the solar campus and as the motorway wasnt there then this land would of ran towards bidston station :>
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It all makes perfect sense expressed in dollars and cents ,pound shillings and pence

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#205227 - 8th Feb 2008 1:20pm Re: Bidston Aerodrome [Re: jonno40]
MerseyMan Offline

Smartchild

Registered: 17th Jan 2008
Posts: 526
Loc: Wallasey
This airfield started operating in April 1920. It was probably located where
Bidston golf course now is. I would be interested to hear from anyone who
has any information or photographs of it or who can exactly locate it.
A question asked on some other forum whilst searching..

Another airfield operated nearby in the 1930s. This was owned by E D Ward
Ltd who had a garage on Leasowe Road somewhere near where Longacre Close now
is. This airfield was behind the garage. E D Ward was Eric Darwent Ward who
was born in Welshpool in 1900 and retired there. Also interested to hear
from anyone who has information on this airfield.

and an answer sort of...
Some details of Bidston Airfield were published recently in a local
magazine. The publication is named "Rapide" and subtitled the "Magazine
for the North-West Vintage Aviation Enthusiast". Do a web search on those
words and you will find details of the publisher. You may be able to
obtain a back issue. Unfortunately I forget which issue.

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#205229 - 8th Feb 2008 1:26pm Re: Bidston Aerodrome [Re: MerseyMan]
jonno40 Offline
Forum Addict

Registered: 7th Jan 2008
Posts: 1232
Loc: wirral
its issue seven:>
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It all makes perfect sense expressed in dollars and cents ,pound shillings and pence

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#205230 - 8th Feb 2008 1:28pm Re: Bidston Aerodrome [Re: jonno40]
jonno40 Offline
Forum Addict

Registered: 7th Jan 2008
Posts: 1232
Loc: wirral
http://www.raf-millom.co.uk/Rapide.htm
The above is a link were you can purchase the magazine for £3.00
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It all makes perfect sense expressed in dollars and cents ,pound shillings and pence

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#205233 - 8th Feb 2008 1:32pm Re: Bidston Aerodrome [Re: jonno40]
MerseyMan Offline

Smartchild

Registered: 17th Jan 2008
Posts: 526
Loc: Wallasey
That's one pint of lager, albeit an expensive one smile


Edited by MerseyMan (8th Feb 2008 1:32pm)

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#205244 - 8th Feb 2008 3:06pm Re: Bidston Aerodrome [Re: MerseyMan]
Doctor_Frick Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 24th Nov 2007
Posts: 308
Loc: Prenton
expensive ?> you havent been to town for a while have you > ??? smile
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#205246 - 8th Feb 2008 3:17pm Re: Bidston Aerodrome [Re: Doctor_Frick]
MerseyMan Offline

Smartchild

Registered: 17th Jan 2008
Posts: 526
Loc: Wallasey
every weekend, I choose the classy establishments. smile

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#205578 - 9th Feb 2008 11:29am Re: Bidston Aerodrome [Re: MerseyMan]
chriskay Offline
Forum Veteran

Registered: 25th Oct 2007
Posts: 4868
Loc: shropshire
I can't really contribute much, but looking through what has been posted so far, and assuming that the denial that DoctorFrick got from the Golf Club is fact, it's a bit of a puzzle. The grid reference given in a later link: SJ280910, does put it on the golf course, just South of the clubhouse & where the Birket is crossed by a bridge. Because of the presence of the stream, it seems a bit of an unlikely location for an airfield. Another question (DoctorFrick)? is the bit of the Golf Course South of the Birket original, or a later addition? If later, that could be the old airfield. Bearing in mind the info. "2 minutes from Bidston Station & short distance from Hoylake Rd."
I've attached a scan showing the location, with the Grid Reference & Bidston Station marked. Also, a ROUGH idea of what 35 acres looks like. It seems to me that there's just room between the railway line & rivers Fender & Birket (although I wouldn't like to overshoot on a landing!!).
This location seems to fulfil all the info. given in the original which DoctorFrick quoted.
Could be wrong, but might just be worth another approach to the Golf Club. (Brocks?)
Cheers, Chris.



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#205579 - 9th Feb 2008 1:07pm Re: Bidston Aerodrome [Re: chriskay]
jonah Offline
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Registered: 29th Nov 2006
Posts: 3992
Loc: 1313 Mockingbird Lane, I live ...
been trying to find more on this but can only find what has already been posted.... think
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