Unique First World War aerodrome Stow Maries saved from dereliction

By Sarah Jackson | 15 October 2013

Europe’s only surviving unaltered First World War aerodrome has been saved for the nation thanks to a £1.5m grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund (NHMF).

First World War plane at Stow Maries aerodrome.
Planes at Stow Maries First World War War Aerodrome.© Courtesy of Heritage Lottery Fund
Only ten of the original 250 aerodromes built during the First World War have survived: Stow Maries in Purleigh near Maldon, Essex is the only one that has been left almost untouched.

Over 24 original Grade II listed Royal Flying Corp operation buildings remain on the site, including the original officers’ mess, pilots’ ready room, blacksmiths, ambulance station and morgue and more.

Built in 1916, Stow Maries was a direct response to the increasing attacks from Germany first Zeppelin airships and later Gotha fixed-wing bombers. It became an integral part of the UK’s Home Front defence and home to the newly-formed 37 Squadron, Royal Flying Corp.

This corp of elite pilots, led by the 19 year old Captain Ridley, are less well known than the Spitfire pilots of the Second World War but they played a vital role throughout the war, particularly in the German bomber campaign of 1917 which some refer to as the First Battle of Britain.

The NHMF grant, which comes just in time for commemorations of the centenary of the First World War, not only secures the long-term future of the site but will also allow for an on-going restoration project to return the aerodrome back to its former glory.

Permanent hangers will be rebuilt and original First World War aircraft will go on display. An apprenticeship scheme will be at the centre of the project in order to keep heritage aviation skills alive.

Jeremy Lucas, Stow Maries Trust Chairman said: "The next five years will see a sustained commemoration at Stow Maries of the extraordinary human exploits and stories.

“This was the first war that was fought here at home through air-raids. By opening up this site, the public and particularly young people will gain a greater understanding of how as a nation we overcame it.”
 
More pictures:
Airside at Stow Maries First World War Aerodrome
Airside at Stow Maries First World War Aerodrome.© Courtesy of Heritage Lottery Fund
Stow Maries Night Landing and MG store awaiting refurbishment
Stow Maries Night Landing and MG store awaiting refurbishment.© Courtesy of Heritage Lottery Fund
Officers Mess stores at Stow Maries First World War Aerodrome
Officers Mess stores at Stow Maries First World War Aerodrome© Courtesy of Heritage Lottery Fund
First World War pilots at Stow Maries, August 1918: McFadden, Hollington, Coote, Stokes, Briggs and Murray.
First World War pilots at Stow Maries, August 1918. B Flight: McFadden, Hollington, Coote, Stokes, Briggs and Murray.© Courtesy of Heritage Lottery Fund
Second Lt Murray & a Camel at Stow Maries in 1917
Second Lt Murray & a Camel at Stow Maries in 1917.© Courtesy of Heritage Lottery Fund
What do you think? Leave a comment below.

You may also like:

National Trust takes Stanley Spencer's ‘Sistine Chapel’ on tour for First World War centenary

Heritage Lottery Fund reveals first plans for £6 million First World War: Then and Now

Gallipoli warship the M33 in bid for £1.8 million backing at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard

Latest comment: >Make a comment
Looking forward to seeing this....money well spent
>See all comments
    Back to article
    Your comment:
    DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted at www.culture24.org.uk are the opinion of the comment writer, not Culture24. Culture24 reserves the right to withdraw or withhold from publication any comments that are deemed to be hearsay or potentially libellous, or make false or unsubstantiated allegations or are deemed to be spam or unrelated to the article at which they are posted.
    Related listings (769)
    See all related listings »
    Related resources (17)
    See all related resources »
    Related collection items (4)