THE HERITAGE OF RAF HALTON AIRFIELD
The first recorded flight at Halton was on 18 September 1913 when an aircraft landed on the area known today as Maitland parade square. (Unfortunately, the aircraft type was not recorded but was probably a Henry Farman or a Bleriot). On the outbreak of WW1 Halton was used for military training. By 1916, Halton was covered in tents and wooden huts accommodating up to 20,000 infantry troops.
In 1917 there was an urgent need to expand technical training in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), and Halton became the main training unit for aircraft mechanics. Permanent workshops were constructed to house the RFCs many trade specialities now named The School of Technical Training (Men). The School expanded rapidly and, by the end of 1917 some 14,000 air mechanics had been trained. At the end of the war In November 1918 the station had under training 6000 airmen mechanics, 2000 women, and 2000 boys at a Boys Training Depot, all supported by 1,700 instructors. An Australian Flying Corps unit also lodged at Halton.
On Alfred de Rothschild’s death in January 1918, the owner of the estate, his nephew Lionel inherited Halton House and its lands. Lionel was a willing seller and the estate including Halton House was purchased by the War Office in 1919 for £112,000. The was about a quarter of the probate value of the estate; clearly a bargain for the War Office (now MOD).
Following the end of WW1, an RAF Apprentice Scheme based at Halton. The first Entry of some 500 boys arrived in January 1922 to be accommodated in permanent buildings erected especially for the school now named No 1 School of Technical Training. After 73 distinguished years during which 40,000 boys were trained, the Halton Apprentice Scheme ended, leaving a legacy of excellence in aircraft engineering acknowledged world-wide.
During WW2 the School also trained thousands of adult tradesmen and women providing a vast number of the maintenance crews needed during the conflict. And it continued adult training throughout the Cold War, and during the many other conflicts since 1945 and the present day. Halton has also trained many chefs, cooks and stewards at No 1 School of Cookery, based here for several decades. Halton is also famous for it’s hospital opened by Princess Mary in 1927 and to which she graciously gave Her Name.
The origins of recreational light aviation and gliding are rooted at RAF Halton; Halton Aero Club has been in existence since 1925 and gliding began at RAF Halton in 1930.
Today RAF Halton Airfield is a busy airfield operating 7 days a week with the Hangars being occupied by gliding, microlight, VGS and the Aeroplane Club.