© Crown Copyright/MOD

Hull's Own Air Force Station

© Crown Copyright/MOD
   

 




Offician crest of the RAF School of Fire Fighting and Rescue © Crown Copyright/MOD
There was a special parade on Wednesday 2nd December 1953 at which on behalf of the Air Officer Commanding, Air Vice Marshall J. G. Franks CBE presented a Unit Badge to the RAF School of Firefighting and Rescue.

The Chief of Air Staff and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth approved the design created by the Regional Arts and Craft, in Hull, with the motto of E Flammis atque ruinis salus coming from a Professor at the University of Hull, which translated to Safety from Flame and Ruins.

This was the first Royal Air Force's Unit Badge presented at the Station.

 

March Past

The WW2 East Riding Balloon Squadrons and the Balloon Centre did not have time to request a Badge or a Crest but the Balloon Command did get one when it disbanded in November 1944, it could be said they were all rather busy!

Official crest of the RAF Technical Training Command © Crown Copyright/MODThere was also no Crest for RAF Sutton on Hull. With the transfer of the Station in August 1944 from Balloon Command to Technical Training Command the appropriate Crest was displayed at the entrance.

In September of 1954, Wing Commander F. E. Ratcliffe, OBE became the Commanding Officer in his Log for the 16th December recorded the completion of the Married Quarters on the Station.

During 1955 two items of interest were recorded with the Station hosting for the first time, the Annual Fire Fighter Conference held on the 29th September. The second, being on the 28th December announced that the duration of the Firemen’s initial training course had been extended from 6 to 9 weeks!

Also late in 1955 the RAF Regiment absorbed the trade of RAF Firemen and its Officers took over the leadership of the RAF Fire Service. However the actual training of the personnel continued under the Technical Training Command at RAF Sutton on Hull.

In March 1956, Wing Commander W. B. Flemming became the Commanding Officer and he was relieved in January 1958 by Wing Commander G. Packe, who went on to be the last CO of RAF Sutton-on-Hull.

Salamander Crash Tender Mr Johnson Warrant Officer Newbould 1958 saw the arrival of the RAF’s newest aircraft crash Fire Tender at the Fire School. The Pyrene Alvis Mark VI (seen right) was also known as the Salamander. Based on a Military vehicle it had power assisted  brakes  and capable of a speed of over 30 mph; it was described as being able to ‘go anywhere and do anything’. When in service it would put Britain ahead of the world in fighting plane disaster blazes.

In August 1959 it was announced that the Station was to close in October the same year and that the Hull Corporation was negotiating with the Air Ministry to purchase part of the land it covered for housing development.

The RAF Station Sutton on Hull had hosted the RAF School of Fire Fighting and Rescue from when it was formatted on the 18th October 1943 and after some 16 years of the tuition of RAF Firemen the school closed on Wednesday 7th October 1959.

Bill Forbes, then a Sergeant - recalls that day when he was in a convoy containing most of the Fire School’s equipment and tenders drove out of the Station Main Gate. It turned left into West Carr Lane, right on to Wawne Road, on to Leads Road and so off to the RAF Regiment Depot at Catterick. This was to be the next home for the training of RAF Firemen.
 
In the frontispiece photograph taken in 1960 it can be seen that the Fire Tower circa 1941 had been left at Sutton, possibly of its age it could not be moved to make the trip!

With the exception of the ground units the Royal Auxiliary Air Force disbanded in 1957 and No. 3505 Fighter Control Unit continued to operate at the Station until the early 60’s when the unit was transferred to RAF Leconfield. Shortly after No. 3505 together with all the Fighter Control Units, were disbanded, possibly made redundant by the lack of Government funding or more likely as there arrived the high speed jet aircraft.

The Station began to be run down, John Porte the Clerical Officer remained there to deal with the accumulation of paper work while a mass of equipment was returned to Maintenance Units for re-issue or to be scrapped.

The buildings, covering some 300,000 sq. ft: were offered and a reporter of the Hull Daily Mail covered the sale by Public Auction held on Thursday 17th November 1960. The article appeared in the issue of the same day under the headline of “The Last Parade” which the author acknowledges.

Bidders attending the hangar sales

Mr. Waterson and Col. R. P. Holmes, of B. L. Wells and Son, charted auctioneers, conducted the sale of 300 lots, which was expected to realise more than £25,000. Starting at 10:00 am the four British Steel designed balloon hangars soon went to local industrialists for £4,000, unbeknown to her husband a lady paid £82.50 to become the owner of a weather-boarded building. A local farmer found a use for a T-shaped wooden building measuring 86 ft x 29 ft x 16 ft that cost him £270.00. The brick compound that had stored the Station supply of solid fuel realised £72.50 while the nearby water tower went for £52.50. 

Over 50 lots were sold in the first hour. Leaving at 4:00 am one of bidders had travelled from Cheltenham to buy three timber-framed asbestos building measuring 62 ft x 19 t. 6 in x 9 ft for £240. It was expected that the largest building on the Station, the Winch and Lorry Shed would realise between  £5,000 and £10,000 but it was not sold, as was the same fate of the NAAFI building, one Balloon Shed and the adjoining Squadron HQ. 

The gates at the West Carr Lane entrance to the Officers Mess went for only £13. On the order of the Secretary of State for Air the main entrance gates together with the buildings forming the Station Headquarters and the Guardhouse were withdrawn from the sale.

The Hull Corporation successfully purchased the land forming the Station and on Monday 14th August 1961 the Air Ministry finally disposed of RAF Sutton on Hull.

The housing on Sutton Gardens and Wawne Road that had formed the Stations’ married quarters remained the property of the Air Ministry and went on to provide accommodation for the families of Servicemen stationed at RAF Patrington and on occasions, at RAF Leconfield.

Cadets on parade at the Main Gate of the ATC Centre N.A.A.F.I. Balloon hanger Station Headquarters

The buildings and the gate that had been withdrawn from the sale were fenced in to become an Air Training Corps Centre. In June 1962, No. 152 (City of Hull) ATC Squadron returned again to West Carr Lane to reside there for seven useful years until the Centre was closed in July 1969.  The Hull Corporation then purchased the gates of the Centre.
 
With the exception of the Married Quarters, the remaining buildings on the site were then demolished to enable the development of an area for housing that was to become the largest in the UK, the Bransholme Estate.

The necessary shops for it were concentrated under one roof of a large building constructed on the old Station’s site and opened for business on Friday 30th November 1973 as the Bransholme Centre.

In 1994 the name was changed to North Point but perhaps many still refer to it as the “Centre”.

North Point Shopping Centre

It could be said this has been the story of - One Centre to another!

 


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