Graham Innes has sent me two early photos. The first is the very early flight office that would have contained a Watch office, the second the tower that pre-dated the Ziggurat.
Early Days at Aberdeen civil ATC in the second Watchroom.
Is that an Ekco radar that Bill Bain is operating?
ATC staff were housed at Kirkhill Dyce in old army huts on the edge of the runway. Bill Bain, Bill Walton and Vic Oldcorn were all housed here in early 1950s. All eventually moved to Redbrae.
HRH Princess Elizabeth arriving at Dyce 1951 with Bill Bain (photos above from Heather Bain, Bill’s daughter.
From Doug MacLean “Attached are 2 pictures from Aberdeen estimated to be taken in late 1982. I am the Tower trainee in the foreground and Ken Wood is my mentor. Ken retired from ATC and established Insch airfield which is about 20 miles north west of Dyce. Ken is fully engaged in running Insch as an excellent grass airfield. We think the Tower ATSA behind Ken was Brian Imrie
The other picture (below) was the Aberdeen Tower DFTI. The pictures were almost certainly Polaroid instant print taken by ATCO Cyril Lofthouse
Thanks for your help in providing material; Keith Miller for his comments, Malcolm Hemming for the heritage MATS Part 2 pages and Barry Davidson for the links below. Now one controller has furnished us with a warts and all opinion (that I’ve toned down a bit). We’ll retain this as a post that captures the procedures but also shows the additional responsibilities that controllers had for the economic success of each flight.
Thanks to Barry Davidson for these two postcard scans
and now one controller’s opinion from a controller who actually controlled the big white bird
The aircraft was actually a pain in the arse. It required special handling, contrary to how it was presented to us.
250knots in the hold, instead of 220 knots maximum.
Once committed to an acceleration to supersonic speed, it was not possible to issue radar vectors to Concorde aircraft. All other minions had to be coarsely hauled out of the way.
The telephone calls to obtain clearance for London and Paris to New York Concordes were the stuff of legend, with Portland range, Chef de celle in Paris, plus Shanwick OACC all in the loop. Much flustering of feathers was needed to ensure a minimum of 15 minutes time separation at the Oceanic entry point, which of course actually ensured 120 nm (!) longitudinal spacing even at subsonic speed.
After the modifications required following the Air France crash, the fuel available was reduced. This caused a problem with holding at Ockham, and BA negiotiated with the TC supervisor to divert all the delays onto other company aircraft, thus ensuring a smooth arrival for the rich.
from Barry Davidson. Gloster Meteor F.III EE341 of No. 74 Sqn , dated 1947. In 1947 74 Squadron seem to have rotated between RAF Lubeck and RAF Horsham St Faith. The squadron was at Colerne in 1946 and studying photos of Colerne tower and the relationship to other buildings we think this is the location, and that is now confirmed by Richard Hladik who says ……. “Having served on 238 OCU in the ASF hangar behind the control tower, I can assure you it is Colerne. When I arrived Aug. 1954 the wartime tower was fully operational. I would go there when on my ‘voluntary’ week of Crash Crew duties.”
Preston Air Traffic Control Centre was located at Barton Hall and controlled the old Northern FIR from 52.30N to 55N. Barton Hall was one of three domestic ATC centres in the UK. It closed in the early 1970s as part of the reorganisation of area control services when the West Drayton air traffic control centre opened.
Preston ATCC ties – Pete Clarke
New in from Steve Balfour are many more photos of the Preston Air Traffic Control Centre EGNN at Barton Hall. Steve says that the picture with the sheep is dated 1951, the second one has no date, but it looks as though whoever printed it has made an attempt to remove the crossed antennae at the top of the mast. The third one Steve judges to be in the 60s the looking at the cars,
initial photo courtesy of the ‘Old Bartonians’ Facebook group and now this copy updated by Les Tranter
there is a new bit which has been constructed over the ‘bay-window’ feature on the first floor and the original comms mast appears to have been replaced with a taller structure.
above is part of the O.S. 1:10,560 sheet, dated 1961-’68, showing the location of Barton Hall, (indicated). Also of note is the M6, which as the ‘Preston By Pass’ parts of which were still under construction at that time.
The landscape-format one above shows the site in relation to the M6. The portrait format below is an enlargement, showing the layout of the buildings, with location of the mast.
the source of the maps is ‘Old Maps.co.uk’,
Flight plan infomation arrived at the data extraction cell on the left. and the Air Traffic Control Assistants (old title) produced a starter. At the far end of the room was the FIR position
I don’t know the (nearest? – JL) chap, but the gentleman in the dark jacket is Gerry Hall, behind him is Dave Schofield and then Jock Burnett. Sitting back on the chair is John Whyte. All 4 re-located to EGCC. Steve Balfour
is that Tim Russian far left alongside Jock Deans?
Steve Balfour sent in the two photos above
On the picture with the ATCOs facing to the right, the chap at the far-end in the white shirt is Bob (Percy) Walton. The other shot is , Steve believes, the same ‘D’ side, taken from the opposite end of the room. the gentleman with the beard is believed to be Cec’ Springate, while the gentleman at the far end he believed to be Dixie Dean. Looking at the hair-styles, possibly late 1960s/early 1970s? (Dixie has confirmed it is indeed him – atchistory 6/12/2015).
BH14a Preston A side
Steve also sent in the next nine photos on behalf of courtesy of Tass Cotton of the ‘Old Bartonians’ Facebook group. atchistory has now updated some of these thanks to Les Tranter who has contributed to some superb hard copy originals.
Civil Ops Room
FIR Controller left, with with ATCA and Movements Clerk on the right.
EGNN Military ATCO in front of triangulation map
WRAFS on AOC Parade.
PBX (telephone exchange)
Multi channel Tape Recorder.
These next 4 shots are reportedly of members of staff during their time off, which came out of an MACC-closure history event, featuring among others, Frank Byatt, John Dale and Paul Ravenscroft. The shots with the huts in the background were taken on-site.
what where these huts were for, possibly accommodation for RAF staff and/or is this the civil hostel?.
Bob Ochonski tell us
“The huts were part of the men’s hostel. There were more ‘billets’ of a more solid construction sited in the area of the photographer which were ‘inhabited’ by such as Pete Wilde, Paddy Holt and the unit hedgehog [Andy Petch] during the year or so of my residence. Not all of the ‘rooms’ in the wooden buildings were used as accommodation and I recall one of the worst being used by Laurie Grimshaw to rebuild his motorbike!”
Preston closure NOTAM
The local press covered the closure. BH2 PRESS CLOSURE 1 the accompanying two photos are below BH30a and BH30b
or not quite –
the current Preston Tx site in September 2011.
two more photos from Paul Funnell
BH33 Preston Centre: No. 8 Cadet Course members & training section staff in this photo taken outside Preston Centre August 1966.
Left to Right:
Paul FUNNELL, ‘Wally’ WALLACE (we think, Training Officer), Pat HARPER (Training Assistant), F R (Mike) HUNT (odd-numbered cadet course supremo), Roger BUDGEN, Colin SMITH (ginger hair) and Penny MANT. John GILBERT was behind the camera.
Geoff Wild says he is very grateful to Paul Funnell for identifying Pat Harper in his August 1966 photo (BH33). Pat was the second person Geoff met in air traffic, and he recently came across a 1953 article in the Lancaster Guardian (she lived in Morecambe) about her “Mysterious Coronation Medal Award.” Another article in the Staffordshire Advertiser (she was born in Leek) carried the same story. Both those articles briefly mention her service in the Observer Corps during the war. He remembers the buzz going round the Ops room in 1969 when news that Pat had been awarded the British Empire Medal became known. The award was announced in the Supplement to the London Gazette on 14 June 1969.
Geoff was sad to learn that Pat died in the Royal Lancaster Infirmary on 1 November, 2015. She was 90.
Terry Clark thinks Pat Harper had an MBE . He remembers seeing it on her nameplate on the door of her office during his brief stays at Barton Hall in late ’72 and early ’73 during his Area Control Training. She, like Terry, was a member of the Royal Observer Corps and he had a few long chats with her about that. Does anyone else remember if Pat had a further/third award?
No. 8 Cadet Course members taken outside Preston Centre August 1966.
Phil Holt sent in the photo of the Preston ATCC club Membership card below
BH35 a and b
and his recollections of Barton Hall
“Hi everyone, I thought I’d share my experiences of Barton Hall. I’m referring principally to the Barton Hall post and in particular to photo’s BH9 to BH14.
Upon arrival I was given the excellent news that I was promoted from ATCA 2 to 3 (or was it 3 to 2?), to be trained as an FPBA (Flight Progress Board Assistant). I had to go on a course in the training section, ran by the Unit Training Officer, Jack Day and his assistant Pat Harper. Interestingly the Centre superintendent was George Jones and you can see both George and Jack on the GATCO 40th photo under Manchester Airport and Sub Centre posts.
I thought I knew how to write fairly quickly until I had to do the first practice strip sequence!
(Interestingly, the training section used perforated strip sheets and had the prototype strip loading machine of the type which I had previously been using at LATCC!). A thorough knowledge of the routes and Compulsory Position Reporting Points had to be mastered first (you certainly didn’t have time to study maps!), then practice in “putting the wind up” your strips to calculate speed / time. The upper winds were posted on a bulldog clip above your board and a type of “Dalton Computer” used to read off the elapsed times. You also had to learn coordination procedures and passing of estimates.
Once Pat assessed you were ready for “validation” a board was organised. An ATCO was rostered as your ‘D’ man and joined Pat & Jack to form the board members. My ATCO was Jock Deans. He is pictured on BH13. There is a “before” and “after” story here. Before – I was an Air Training Corps Staff Cadet on number 10 Air Experience Flight at RAF Woodvale for 2 years before joining the CAA. Jock was a pilot on the flight (as was Pete Reggate – hope that’s the right spelling – and Pete Holland). After – Jock became Chief Officer at Edinburgh in the mid 80’s and I was his Unit training Officer.
The “starter” strip came over from DEC (Data Extraction Cell) via the ancient (and noisy – they had the line the cell with noise absorbent tiles) 1950’s telex machines. In photo BH9 you can see this clearly – also the drawer open on our “stored fpl’s” box. Each regular flight had an index card to make the starter strip! Once the strip sequence was live following a departure time or entry point estimate, you had to get the strips over to the ‘D’ side quickly. The route requiring the most strips, if my memory is correct (ex FPBA’s check this) was Blue 1 east to west FL130 & below – BLUFIR, DOGGER, OTTRINGHAM, MILLBROOK (2), ABEAM BARTON (2), WALLASSEY, POINT LYNAS, LIFFY. 2 strips were required for MILLBROOK and / BTN, the second for Sector 5 (Manchester TMA ATCO). It also got very intense if the NAT tracks were northerly as our upper sectors were very busy with overflights. One piece of coordination I remember well on sector 3 (Irish Sea) was to pass a “Mid-Point” estimate to the Eskmeals Range controller. Advisory Route Delta White 11 went straight through the middle of it, between Carnane and Dean Cross and the estimate was passed to stop them firing whilst the aircraft passed through! Quite a daunting responsibility for a 20-year-old ATSA!
Preston was the place for characters. Here are names I remember from my watch (which I think was “D”) – Norman Alty, with the ever-present Betty or “Bettykins” “yes Normsie”. Denis “where you from and where are you bound” or “Golf alpha mappa mappa pike” Brown on the FIR? Louise from Oswaldtwistle and her cats. Eric “lampost” Lampkin. Who can forget Jim Woodman? You certainly knew he was in the ops room even if you couldn’t see him! He was always sparring with all of us, especially Ron Tuck – “come on Tucky, get your finger out!”. He had the habit of setting fire to a FPS then sending it down the tube used to deposit “dead” strips and their holders! His surname was apt as he looked more like a lumberjack than an ATCO. There was more than one rendition of Monty Python’s “I’m a lumberjack…” heard in the ops room!
I’m not going to expand upon the goings on in the on-site accommodation – I’ll leave that to anyone brave enough to put pen to paper!
Barton Hall Club! I still have my last membership card signed by Eric Holloway, counter stamped to show I’d paid to attend the famous closing down function (see photo elsewhere). Well, that was the official one – there were many unofficial ones – less said about those the better! The Salthouse’s ran the club, George was bar man and handyman and his wife (Mary?) and her team did the cooking. I remember cursing the hot pies left for night shift staff upon returning home one morning. I had indescribable pain in my lower abdomen – but it turned out that my appendix had burst a few days before on a Viscount flight back from Jersey and it was peritonitis! The “one armed bandit” in the bar helped subsidise the club’s income. The food & drink at the final ‘do’ was incredible, as the remaining money from the “bandit” had to be spent.
Sadly, all good things must come to an end and at 0001 on 30th January 1975, we handed over control to Manchester Sub Centre (FL130-) and LATCC. I have a memory of the ops room at that moment. I’m looking for further accuracy on this, but I think John Penwarne was the single “D” man on duty. John Hollingsworth was supervisor. As midnight approached quite a few who had been “languishing” in the club came in. I think John P graciously allowed Roy Quale to “work” the last aircraft as he was, at that time, the longest serving “D”. The aircraft was an Aer Lingus 737 EIDW / EGCC or it could have been EGCC / EIDW. The crew were very sombre when Roy informed them that they were the last aircraft. A plaque was presented to EIN ops – does anyone know if it’s still there? We waited for the first aircraft to call on 127.45 and at first, he got know reply, then a disembodied voice announcing “London Control” answered by much booing! It was a BEA Vanguard Merchantman EGPH / EGLL doing the paper run. John H waited 15 minutes to make sure our services were no longer required, then broke out champagne which he’d secretly stored in the safe (making sure George Jones had left!).
Incredible memories, incredible people, incredible changes over the last 46 years!!
Phil Holt ATCA 3/2. ATCO 2 (ex 35 course)”
Lost military/aviation site near Barton Hall?
One of our visitors as been having a dialogue with some of our regular readers about a site he passes during his runs. The site isn’t recorded as an airfield or landing ground, a wartime decoy site, gliding or radio control flying site in the usual sources.
“I went yesterday for a quick run / investigate as I’ve not been here since Sept 2020. A few changes I noticed straight away like brand new gates entering the field next to the footpath stile. I have a few photos taken yesterday so I’ll send them on a few emails. Hopefully the quality isn’t too blurry. Interestingly I’ve found google street view taken in 2019 showing the orange windsock, and being able to stand on Barton lane looking south down the main north south runway. But yesterday the road side hedge is now 8ft tall and no windsock exists, just the pole.
Airfield run sept 2020 – map box satellite image on Strava.
We had a definitive answer in a comment”it is/was a private airstrip that dates back no more than 20 yrs for current owners microlight use”
RAF LUQA in the 1950s, the tower in the background. Three Vikings on the apron, on the left two Hunting Clan aircraft and on the right a Trek Air Coach System Viking.
USAF Fairchild C-119 “Flying Boxcar” 12608 on No 2 Aircraft Park
Plenty of BEA activity on No 1 Aircraft Park, the military No 2 Park is in the distance with a Britannia and maybe a Valetta parked up. There is a Hastings on the Runway.
Lightnings of 74 Squadron at Luqa.
Royal Air Force de Havilland DH106 Comet R2 XK659 at RAF Luqa. the aircraft was originally registered to British Overseas Airways Corporation as G-AMXC on 8th January 1953, was purchased for the Royal Air Force on 2nd March 1955
It was purchased by the Compass Catering Company on 13th May 1974 and flown to Manchester Airport on the same day where it was disassembled for movement to Pomona Dock for use as a restaurant. It was eventually scrapped in late 1981
On the left below is Clee Hill, identified by Steve Balfour. Some help please from radar spotters, where is the right hand radar?
….and secondly you will find some new photos below of other remote radar heads
Below are some early maps and a list of early radar sites in 1945 and the mid to late 1950s. Most were military but some were to become military and civil air traffic control units or to act as remote radars to military and civil air traffic control units.
RR41a this recent photo and the next from Pete Clarke who says that “It is still turning away across the road to the east of Blackpool Airport. The old moss road to the radar site is being upgraded to a link road to the M55 so a lot of re-routing of cables has had to be done before the major work could commence.”
RR41c from Alan Dobson
I only have this one picture, which is of a bearing change on the 264 radar. Not over exciting in it’s self, but I installed the MK2 Stansaab plot extractor here in the 1980’s, and it was the only one of the plot extracted radar sites in the country that I programmed in the Plot filter. CAA HQ had been told that it took the Swedes a year to programme their extractor, but HQ didn’t read the programming instructions correctly, it took me about 4 weeks.
So St Annes was unique . I found out that when St Annes closed, the plot extractors
We’re scanning in a large archive of photographs of RAF Sopley that belonged to the late Squadron Leader Brian (BC) Jones that were bought on e-Bay. Some are from the pre ATC days and may be passed on to the RAF Sopley website. Others are of the unit generally or of the activities of the Air Traffic Control Squadron and will feature on an updated RAF Sopley/JATCRU Southern posting on this site. There was also an area radar training school at RAF Sopley used initially by military controllers but also later by civil controllers too including some cadet courses whose area course radar component were split, half at CATC at Hurn and half at Sopley.
Flt Lt Al Barnet
Flt Lt Bill Baggaley. (The equipment lower left is we understand a SSR/IFF training aid. The models of a Gloster Javelin and de Havilland Comet help date it).
Flt Lt Brian Jones
Brian Jones again with (possibly) Flt Lt R C Ives
Flt Lt Colin Rutter
Flt Lt George Rollings
Flt Lt John Broadbent
Flt Lt Mac McDonald
Flt Lt Phil Phillips
John Dougan, Chief Instructor dated 4th October 1965
two more pictures of John. On the left John in July 1970 to mark his new appointment as Chief Instructor Area at the College of ATC at Hurn. On the right John in September 1969.
Lou Parton, Civil Liaison Officer
Sqdn Ldr Dave Emery, Commanding Officer
Phil Phillips has confirmed that this is the OC RAF Sopley and that it is Wing Commander Peter Wood. The photo is dated 7th December 1973.
Group photo of No 16 JATCAR course from 1962, photo from John Douglas
Course photo No 50 Joint Air Traffic Control Area Radar Course, 7th August – 16th September 1967
Con Lee lecturing
Flt Lt Max Pemberton demonstrating the SSR teaching aid
Simulator pseudo pilot operators
these are believed to be of the school and are scanned from small contact prints., It so looks like the former Fighter Control plotting room (marked 5) was in use as a classroom or exam room.
a civil student undergoing live training in Cabin 1, airways.
Barry Davidson has just sent in a brochure about Air Traffic Control Training in the Royal Air Force at the Central School of Air Traffic Control that also includes the tower and its interior. Anyone like to estimate the date of publication and indeed contribute more stuff on Shawbury activities generally?
and a second brochure about the station as a whole
and a photo of one of the Vampires (XH274) used to help train controllers. Some of these were converted night fighters.
Bruce Williamson has now added to the above with a history of the Central Air Traffic Control School that he wrote a few years ago for the Shawbury station magazine. Bruce says that “It’s a bit out of date now, but gives a flavour of the general history of the place.”
Bob tells me that Flt Lt Howells later gained a civil licence and worked at Boscombe Down. This photo was taken sometime in the winter of 1970/71…
Rhys Davies has sent in photos of his grandfather at Shawbury.
“First group picture my Grandad, SAC Frank Viner is sat 4 from right front row next to the Sgt.
The second group picture, he is front row sat far left. I believe these pictures are 1959. He left Bawtry as a steward in 1958 sometime and was posted to St Mawgan after the transfer to ATC in 1960 ish.”
An archive of 20th century air traffic control photographs and other media sponsored by the Guild of Air Traffic Control Officers http://gatco.org/