Winthorpe Airbase and the RAF Estate

 

Both the Harvey Avenue and Thorpe Oaks housing estates are built on land that used to belong to the Thorpe Coddington Hall Estate, which was sold as 59 lots in 1918. Coddington Hall had been requisitioned by the army in 1917 and failed to sell in the 1918 auction, but was bought later and split into two units. By 1936 Anglo-Iranian Oil had offices in Coddington Hall.  The area upon which the Harvey Avenue estate would be built was sold as lot 11, and in the 1920s a strip bordering Newark Rd was sold for housing development - the portion of Newark Rd that was left as a cul-de-sac after the A1 was opened in 1964.
 
Winthorpe Airbase
During WWII Coddington Hall was incorporated into the newly built Winthorpe airbase, which straddled the Winthorpe/Coddington parish border. Part of the airfield lay within the former area of the Thorpe Estate - on Car Farm, which at Estate Sale was Lot 2. The airfield, which eventually had 3 concrete runways, was mostly in Winthorpe parish – and can be seen today within the groundworks of Newark Air Museum and Newark and Notts. Showground, off Drove Lane.
 
Most of the accommodation was in Coddington parish, off Newark Rd around the site of Coddington Hall and Beaconfield Farm. A fence ran behind the new Newark Rd housing (where Site 4 was), past the hall driveway where the guardroom was, and around the buildings either side of the drive (Site 2). The WAAF Site was at the far side of the field behind Site 4. The main Communal Site was developed all around the Hall buildings with Site 5 to the NE. The Sick Quarters was on the far side of Beaconfield farm, with the Sewage Disposal area on the edge of the site between Sick Bay and Site 5. Site No1 was the officers’ quarters, built to the north of Newark Rd at the bend – where Parkland’s Close now lies.
{insert plan of Winthorpe Airbase residential areas}
 
The airfield was built in the late 30's as a satellite station for Swinderby airfield and opened officially in September 1940. RAF Winthorpe was attacked in Nov 1940 using parachute landmines for the first time, but although the runway was damaged there were no casualties. We have been told that defenses for the airbase were sited at The Bungalow on Cross Lane. During 1940 to 1959 a variety of RAF activities took place:
 
1940 - 42
Polish bomber squadrons initially used the aerodrome for training. They operated from the grass airfield, flying Fairey Battles and Vickers Wellingtons. In July 1941 the Polish squadrons moved to Hemswell. Next 455 Squadron of Coastal Command arrived with Handley Page Hampden (twin-engined) bombers.  In 1942 the airfield was closed to lay concrete runways to accommodate heavy bombers. Because the bearing factory Marles was in the direct line of the airfield, Winfield was not developed as a bomber base.
 
1942 - 45
Between 1942 - 45 1661 Heavy Conversion Unit flew Manchesters, Halifaxes and Stirling Bombers for training replacement crews for other RAF bases. A large number of men passed through RAF Winthorpe because the losses at the other bases were so high. Ten Lancaster Bombers were also used, and on the 16/01/1943 Lancaster bombers from Winthorpe took part in "Operation Target Berlin". The "Short Stirling" 4-engined bombers arrived in the autumn of 1943. In late autumn 1943 sixteen Handley Page Halifax bombers arrived but they did not remain very long as they were needed by bomber command. On the 3rd December 1944, the number of personnel stationed at Winthorpe was 1613. In early 1945 Hurricane and Spitfires arrived but only for training purposes.
 
1945 - 59
After the war 1945 – 47 Transport Command took over Winthorpe Airbase. 1441 Heavy Transport practised air drops from there. Between 1955 – 59 the RAF Research Establishment took over and the Technical Servicing Manuals for new equipment were written here (before the research Establishment moved on to Swanton Morley). In July 1959 the airbase effectively closed, after which the Site was transferred to Maintenance Command care.
 
See also the articles on Winthorpe Village History website:
 
 
 
The Estate is built
In the 1950s housing had been erected in a grid pattern on the area west of the driveway on the old Site 4 and the WAAF Site, around Harvey Avenue and five more roads. It was designed to house 150 RAF Families connected to nearby RAF stations.
 
The A1 Constructed and Winthorpe Airbase Sold
In July 1962 contractor Robert McGregor and son took over the site of construction of the A1 to build the 6mile stretch of road from Balderton to North Muskham. The works included laying 13miles of reinforced concrete, 24ft carriageways and 15ft central reservation, and the pre-stressed concrete Winthorpe Bridge. Two Coddington houses were demolished – Catch’En Inn Farm and Gilbert’s house. The road, which ran by the side of the Harvey Avenue Estate, was opened on 27th July 1964 by Minister of Transport, Ernest Marples.
 
Coddington Hall became unsafe and by 1968 most of it had been demolished – local firm Hough Bros. won the contract and some of the materials were recycled in village properties. The RAF put the 35.8a Hall Site up for auction on March 19th 1969 – it was described as 2 lots as potential building land, with outline planning advice.  Lot 1 of 24.8a included a cottage ‘The Nook’ (tenant Mrs Allport) and a disused and dilapidated detached bungalow – the lot had the familiar ‘question mark’ shape of the Hall site – apparently the lot was withdrawn at £17,000.  Lot 2 was 11a, a plot of land that ran perpendicular to the Hall site, south of Beaconfield Farm and north of the Harvey Avenue Estate – apparently the lot was withdrawn at £7,000.
 
The Married Quarters for other ranks and offices were retained by the MoD and used by RAF Scampton, Digby, Cranwell, Waddington and Conningsby. In the 1970s they were sold to Newark and Sherwood District Council. The Offices houses in Parklands Close were auctioned off and the houses for other ranks were kept as Council Houses. The Harvey Avenue Estate became run down, and the residents were relocated and the site sold for redevelopment as private housing estate in 2000 (with a few NSDC rented properties).
 
Road Names of the Harvey Avenue and Thorpe Oak Estates

The Harvey Avenue Estate street names reflected the RAF heritage of the site – with Valiant Road, Canberra Road. When names were chosen for the new estates’ roads this tradition was continued – the names of planes and the surnames of servicemen from both World Wars were used. For more information follow this link {insert link}.