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Norton Aerodrome


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LeadFarmer
On 27/02/2012 at 20:48, CJax kid said:

I grew up on the gleadless valley estate close to the old base at Norton. I regularly would take the family dogs down Lightwood lane for long walks and on some occasions would walk on a foot path across farm land that took you to the south eastern side of the old camp. At the edge of the camp on the edge of woodland there is a big concrete bunker. It was a considerable structure, Steel doors either end and inside chairs, steel frame bunk beds, a couple of decades of rubbish and graffiti. It was a wellies on exploration inside as there always seemed to be about a foot of water in it. Growing up during the cold war I was convinced that if the russians had pressed the button that bunker may have been one of the few places to shelter. Being so close to sheffield city centre..probably not!! but the thought was comforting to at least one young gleadless lad..wonder if anyone else came across it?? Its not visible on google earth..Ive looked. Will take a walk down memory lane during the summer and take some photos of it and post.

Replying to an old post, but heres some photos I took a few years ago of the bunker within the aerodrome. It was my playground as a kid back in the late 70's & 80's. I used to peer inside but it was a dark damp and frightening place as a young kid...

 

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The bunker is hidden from view by the tree at the end of the dead end track to the right..

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Number 16 Balloon Centre at RAF Norton was the headquarters and main base for the Sheffield Balloon barrage ( original HQ @ 641, Attercliffe Road). The first operational use of the barrage was made on 26 August 1939 and, at full strength, ( WAAF's and  locally recruited members of members of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force) they could deploy a total of 72 of the 63 x 31 ft balloons at a height of around 6,000 ft. No 939 Sqdn was responsible for the western area ( HQ Broom Grove Road),No 940 Sqdn for Rotherham ( HQ...Station Hotel, Rotherham) whilst No. 941 positioned itself in the middle of the zone ( HQ Scott Road).

The balloons operated from a number of sites around the zone and consisted of a crew of ten and a motorised winch. As the chronic shortage of men became ever more obvious moves were made to operate the potentially hazardous balloon barrages with all women crews and Sheffield was chosen for the experiment...This was an overwhelming success and by 1941 thousands of WAAF's and their NCO's were taking over balloon barrage sites throughout the country.

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John Greenwood

i remember going to airshows in the 50's loads of static planes and fly passes

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My grandad used to teach my mother to drive on the old aerodrome.  I  think many other people used it for driving lessons too.

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My parents blew certain parts of the norton aerodrome up the bunkers i believe, it was a disused air base in WW2 they also pulled other parts of it down to the company that they was known by was A.D.H Demolition Limited also famous demolition lady of our time (DOT HULL SHEFFIELD), ill try to find some photos i know we have

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Banjo PickingBuddy

I was a member of 317 Sqdn ATC back around 1959, I see the row of huts close to the road that we used are still shown on Google Earth. 

Anyone remember WO Nichols, Sgt Aston, Cpl Tinsley from back them?

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RAF Norton was an active base during WW2. and for some years after .It was the HQ for Number 16  balloon centre responsible for 72 balloons around the Sheffield Gun Defended Area and was the first unit to have all female crews.

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My Father was a bus/tram driver during the war years for Sheffield Corporation. He once told me that the aerodrome was used at nights during the blitz to store the Corporations buses, to save them from damage.

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ManoutotCity

I lived opposite the camp on Raeburn Road,  late 5Os when the maisonettes were newly built so had a grandstand view of what to a young lad, was a fascinating place. Yes definitely  two ‘gate guards’ ; a wartime monoplane fighter  ( I’d have said a Hurricane but bow to better recall of others. Similarly, I’d have said in camo colours but unsure now. Certain however that’s its small (jet fighter) companion was silver though couldn’t now state its type). Recall the ’At Home Days’. Also the active maingate/guardroom. I believe that  the place even had its own (WAAF) band!

My understanding was that the Station  was mainly  a wireless maintenance unit - they had Bedford QL box and GS body wagons which I believe followed the Op Overlord invasion force into Normandy, I guess in support of the Tactical Air Force.

It was also a local barrage balloon site, as others have stated.

RAF NORTON also had a dubious reputation with aircrew as the Med Unit/hospital took flying nervous exhaustion cases and it seems that the term ‘Low Moral Fibre’ was part of the vocabulary there. I think there was a link with the The Matlock Hydro Hotel which was used for  similar purposes - though possibly for Commissioned Officer Aircrew, whilst Norton was  for WOs/NCOs? When I was last in The City, the shell of the old medical centre was still standing - the low building closest to the ‘Bagshaw roundabout ‘.

People always assumed that there was a runway there which of course, there wasn’t!

Saw the place progressively falling apart in the remaining years I was in Sheffield. 

Heard about but don’t recall,  the big Admiralty sheds at Four Lane Ends (I think in the vicinity of the big schools and the new St James? Shopping Centre which I think were finally demolished as late as the 60s but I don’t recall them. I was told that they were used for rebuilding old biplanes which were flown in and out of Apperknowle grass strip...  but truthfully,  beyond my positive knowledge. In summary,  Gleadless and surroundings an interesting  area in this context.

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Len Smith

I was station at RAF Norton for 2 years from spring 1961 as a MT driver.  Some much earlier post's seemed to be in doubt about what went on there. I wondered whether the topic has been exhausted or are people still interested in the site. I have googled it a few times , trying to locate my 'billet' and work place but can only recognise a few locations.  Does anyone know if this topic has cropped up on Facebook ?

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lysandernovo

I think over the years  some confusion has grown between RAF Norton and the earlier and quite separate grass airfield at Coal Aston ( between Norton and Dyche Lane) which in WW1 was used by elements of both the RFC and RNAS. After the Armistice the airfield found itself being used for aircraft storage as No2 (Northern)Aircraft depot. That said, the airfield continued to be used for civilian aviation, most notably at "Flying Weeks" when ,for instance in 1919, a Vickers Vimy made a flight  from Sheffield to London in 95 minutes. It was planned to become Sheffield's  civilian aerodrome...but like so much else, this failed to become a reality despite the Corporation using its powers to purchase land.

RAF Norton was established... without a runway or other flying requirements..and was used ,whilst still incomplete, by No16 Balloon Centre. The Sheffield Gun Defended Area first, operational, use of its balloons was on 26 August 1939....some days before the declaraation of War.

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DaveJC

I attended Charnock Infants and Juniors from 1952, where there were many RAF kids, I recall that they were in the main, the children of NCO’s and lived in very nice light brick semi detached houses to the rear of the camp, I believe on or just off Lightwood Lane.

Sorry, can’t help any further.

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Len Smith

It may be of interest to anyone living near the old RAF Norton site ( nr Gleadless) that the area at Bowman Drive was the location of several Married Quarters for Airmen .  The area on the other side of the site

' Lightwood House ' on google maps ,  was the site of the officers Quarters and the station CO.  Airfield navigation equipment , was serviced and delivered to UK bases from Cornwall to North Scotland and out to Germany and Holland by road ,ferry etc. Most of us MT drivers spent more time out of camp than in along with the radar and radio fitters.  However that didn't stop us enjoying refreshments (Mansfield Ales !! ) at the Bagshawe Arms which maybe still there?  Also the working mans club at Manor Top  welcomed us as guests after showing our ID cards and allowing us to enjoy the live performances there . As single twenty somethings we sometimes enjoyed the company of young ladies from the area .  A great introduction for me (from the south ! ) to Yorkshire hospitality , in fact I returned later to marry and settle in W Yorks.  Also I remember a great bus service into the town centre which gave us all the enjoyment a young man would require .  The tram lines were quite a feature I recall , played havoc with your steering during wet weather .  Up on the camp , the '600 Group ' dismantled what was the last barrage balloon hanger there.  A monster of a thing that rattled and banged in the wind at night and occasionally shed it's corrugated iron roofing , 1962  brought a real storm which cause plenty of damage and sent debris all the camp .  No doubt this has all been told before here or maybe facebook ? .

 

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rover1949

Interesting but surely it was never an 'aerodrome', just RAF Norton?

I believe the two aircraft shown in the photos are Gloster Meteor jets, how did they get there?

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lysandernovo

 I believe they were delivered by road on a dedicated RAF vehicle known, if memory serves me correct, as a "Queen Mary".

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rover1949

Wow, presumably they took the wings off first?

Mu uncle was an RAF pilot flying Meteors.  The war had just ended, there was no active service so they became a display team for a while.

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LeadFarmer
19 hours ago, Len Smith said:

It may be of interest to anyone living near the old RAF Norton site ( nr Gleadless) that the area at Bowman Drive was the location of several Married Quarters for Airmen .  The area on the other side of the site

' Lightwood House ' on google maps ,  was the site of the officers Quarters and the station CO.  Airfield navigation equipment , was serviced and delivered to UK bases from Cornwall to North Scotland and out to Germany and Holland by road ,ferry etc. Most of us MT drivers spent more time out of camp than in along with the radar and radio fitters.  However that didn't stop us enjoying refreshments (Mansfield Ales !! ) at the Bagshawe Arms which maybe still there?  Also the working mans club at Manor Top  welcomed us as guests after showing our ID cards and allowing us to enjoy the live performances there . As single twenty somethings we sometimes enjoyed the company of young ladies from the area .  A great introduction for me (from the south ! ) to Yorkshire hospitality , in fact I returned later to marry and settle in W Yorks.  Also I remember a great bus service into the town centre which gave us all the enjoyment a young man would require .  The tram lines were quite a feature I recall , played havoc with your steering during wet weather .  Up on the camp , the '600 Group ' dismantled what was the last barrage balloon hanger there.  A monster of a thing that rattled and banged in the wind at night and occasionally shed it's corrugated iron roofing , 1962  brought a real storm which cause plenty of damage and sent debris all the camp .  No doubt this has all been told before here or maybe facebook ? .

 

I'm certainly interested in any stories/info you might have please. I played on the site as a kid in the 70's & 80's as I lived very close to it, and still do.

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Len Smith

The current weather in Yorkshire reminded me of another  'Norton ' memory which occurred during the 1962/3 Xmas period .  I received a telegram at home (West London ) telling me to get back to camp on 31st December .  That was the first and last telegram I've ever had !  As you may know there was a major snow event across the southern half of England and I had to set off up the (new ) M1 in my 1956 Vauxhall car not knowing how far I would get.  The major roads had in fact been cleared somewhat , leaving walls of snow on the sides.  To my surprise when I reached Derby area there wasn't much snow around.  It turned out that some airfield equipment (GCA 'ground controlled approach ' ) was to be taken to Locking in Somerset .  It was quite a journey , especially across the Cotswolds from Banbury on a frozen road (A361 ? ).  I still don't know why it was so urgent !   Not exactly  Sheffield history,  but I shows the work done there was of some importance during that ' Cold War ' period , ie. keeping airfield communications and landing aids fit for the job up and down the uk.  Thick fog was another hazard for the drivers there at that time especially out to east Yorks airfields at night . I remember trying to get  to Elvington or was it  Carnaby ? (Bloodhound missiles ) via Church Fenton down narrow lanes in fog one night ,  it took a while !   Sometimes I would go on a long run with an item not much bigger than a packet of cigarettes , they called , Norton delivered just like Amazon !   I got about £11 a week , so could afford a few pints in the local pub with other lads when the chance arose. This was much better than being stuck in the middle of Lincolnshire on a big base I reckon.

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DaveJC

Just had this thought, as a 73 year old I’m rarely the youngster on any internet thread, however that’s just what I feel like on this one. It’s great to know that I don’t have to look forward to being a mindless coffin dodger, keep it up guys and gals, your reminiscences do you great credit.

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LeadFarmer
On 05/02/2021 at 20:35, Len Smith said:

The current weather in Yorkshire reminded me of another  'Norton ' memory which occurred during the 1962/3 Xmas period .  I received a telegram at home (West London ) telling me to get back to camp on 31st December .  That was the first and last telegram I've ever had !  As you may know there was a major snow event across the southern half of England and I had to set off up the (new ) M1 in my 1956 Vauxhall car not knowing how far I would get.  The major roads had in fact been cleared somewhat , leaving walls of snow on the sides.  To my surprise when I reached Derby area there wasn't much snow around.  It turned out that some airfield equipment (GCA 'ground controlled approach ' ) was to be taken to Locking in Somerset .  It was quite a journey , especially across the Cotswolds from Banbury on a frozen road (A361 ? ).  I still don't know why it was so urgent !   Not exactly  Sheffield history,  but I shows the work done there was of some importance during that ' Cold War ' period , ie. keeping airfield communications and landing aids fit for the job up and down the uk.  Thick fog was another hazard for the drivers there at that time especially out to east Yorks airfields at night . I remember trying to get  to Elvington or was it  Carnaby ? (Bloodhound missiles ) via Church Fenton down narrow lanes in fog one night ,  it took a while !   Sometimes I would go on a long run with an item not much bigger than a packet of cigarettes , they called , Norton delivered just like Amazon !   I got about £11 a week , so could afford a few pints in the local pub with other lads when the chance arose. This was much better than being stuck in the middle of Lincolnshire on a big base I reckon.

I live in walking distance of Norton Aerodrome and have done all my life. I took my camera there the other year and photographed the site, mainly because there has always been the threat of development and in the area to the left of the original main entrance there were still floor tiles etc where some of the buildings would have been.

I've been in the loft today and found a pdf document of the history of Norton Aerodrome written by Group Capt DJ Read (Ret'd) that he sent to me a few years ago. I can't recall how I came across him, maybe on here or on Sheffield Forum? Anyway, I contacted him and he kindly emailed the document to me, I printed it out, it's probably 30 pages long, here's a photo of the front cover..

 

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