Silloth Airfield was opened in June 1939, just before the start of WW2, and closed on 31 December 1960. It is located 1 mile (1.6 km) north-east of the coastal town of Silloth, Cumbria, England and 6.7 miles (10.8 km) south-west of Kirkbride, Cumbria. Postcode: CA7 4NS.
As the history of the Airfield illustrates, it was originally designed to be used by RAF Maintenance Command, 22MU, but was handed over to Coastal Command during November 1939. No1 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit (OTU) was then responsible for training pilots and crews from the UK and Allied countries.
The aerodrome now had twin responsibilities, the maintenance and repair of planes for use in the War effort and the training of crews to fly planes and help win the War.
The people who worked and served at Silloth Aerodrome and many who live in the local community of Silloth-on-Solway are proud of its rich heritage and the role the airfield played during WW2. Over time, many people have wanted to share stories and ensure important memories are not forgotten.
This website has been set up to tell the story of Silloth Airfield and its role during WW2; also its significance to the civilian men and women who worked there, airmen, RAF personnel and the local community of Silloth who live(d) close to it and hold it dear.
Sharing Heritage: Silloth: The Impact of World War 2 (2013-2014)
This project was led by Silloth Tourism Action Group (STAG), who were awarded £9,600 for a project to research the history of Silloth Airfield and community memories of the town’s wartime years. The aim is was to research information and preserve Silloth’s rich heritage for the Town and future generations. Members of Silloth Tourism Action Group (STAG) and other volunteers from the community participated in the project. Visual images and information were researched and, wherever possibles, this archive of material and stories about the airfield were recorded digitally to create an on-line resource. Specifically, the project looked at:
- the building of the airfield and effect on local people
- how Silloth accommodated the many airmen who arrived in the town during World War 2
- what aircraft were used
- how pilots were trained
- air accidents and what became known as the ‘bodies on the beach’
- memories of the airfield told by people who lived the experience
- decommissioning of the aircraft and the legacy of the airfield, eg. the arrival of new businesses and the impact on the local economy
Interviews were conducted to capture community memories. A short film was made drawing from information gathered, ie. interviews, books, online information, local archives and any other appropriate material. Workshops were held to discuss the project and support its development. The one year project culminated in a performance drama in the local school to celebrate the town’s rich wartime heritage. Pupils from the local Solway Community Technology College scripted and performed the play. A WW2 style newspaper drawing from collected information was compiled and distributed to school pupils, local people and visitors, and a mobile exhibition was set up using printed information on pop-up displays. A short film/audio visual presentation also told the Silloth Airfield story and will be used along with this website to promote the town’s WW2 heritage online. Wherever possible, information gathered will be digitised and shown along with the film. All of the above has combined to tell the story of Silloth airfield and its impact during WW2.
The ultimate aim is to ensure the importance of Silloth airfield during the last world war and its impact on the local community over the years is not forgotten.
Information and Contact Details:
For further information about the project, or to provide information about a wartime experience in Silloth, offer images (these will be copied and returned) and/or arrange interviews so your or your family’s story can be told, please contact Anna Malina. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Silloth Tourism Action Group (STAG)
STAG works inclusively and in partnership with others to promote and regenerate tourism in Silloth. Supplementing the many events already run by dedicated community organisers in the town, STAG are striving to organise new events and are also exploring tourism opportunities offered by the Silloth’s long and extremely rich heritage. The group strives to work closely with other organisations to achieve common aims.
The HLF Sharing Heritage Fund is for any not-for-profit group wanting to explore their community’s heritage. With a commitment from HLF of £3m each year, Sharing Heritage grants between £3,000 and £10,000 are available to groups who want to discover their local heritage. Projects can cover a wide spectrum of subject matter from exploring local archaeology and a community’s cultures and traditions to identifying and recording local wildlife and protecting the surrounding environment to managing and training volunteers, and holding festivals and events to commemorate the past.
Heritage Lottery Fund
Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) aims to make a lasting difference for heritage, people and communities across the UK and help build a resilient heritage economy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, they invest in every part of the UK’s diverse heritage. HLF has supported almost 36,000 projects with £5.9bn across the UK.