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HER Number:MDV78134
Name:Barnstaple Aerodrome


Civilian aerodrome later incorporated into Royal Air Force Chivenor.


Grid Reference:SS 507 346
Map Sheet:SS53SW
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishHeanton Punchardon
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishHEANTON PUNCHARDON

Protected Status: none recorded

Other References/Statuses: none recorded

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • AIRFIELD (XX to World War II - 1934 AD to 1942 AD (Throughout))

Full description

Francis, P., 1999, Exeter Airport. Historic Airport Survey for Devon County Council & East Devon District Council, 17 (Report - non-specific). SDV323390.

In December 1933 the Barnstaple and North Devon Flying Club formed, and established an aerodrome south of Heanton Punchardon, between the Barnstaple to Ilfracombe railway and the River Taw. The aerodrome opened on 13th June 1934, and a regular service started to Lundy Island. After a name change to Lundy and Atlantic Coast Airlines, the company also started services to Cardiff and Plymouth, using Short Scions. Prior to the outbreak of World War II in May 1939, Western Airways commenced a service from Manchester to Penzance with a stop at Barnstaple. In September 1939 the site was requisitioned by the Air Ministry, and Lundy Atlantic Coast Airline's passenger activities ceasted, but its aircraft were engaged in anti-aircraft co-operation duties with Bristol Channel gunsites. In June 1940, work began on the construction of a major Royal Air Force Coastal Command airfield on an adjacent site at Chivenor and, once this had become operational, the original aerodrome was used as a satellite. During 1940, the civilian hangar and airline staff became part of the Civilian Repair Organisation to overhaul and repair a substantial number of light RAF and requisitioned aircraft, including Tiger Moths, Lysanders and Hotspur gliders.
Meanwhile, Chivenor had entered service as a Beaufort crew training station, and soon became one of the most important Coastal Command bases. By late 1942 it had become necessary to lengthen the main runway and increase the number of hardstandings and dispersal marshalling area. Because of the limitations of the estuary site, this could only be done in an easterly direction, and much to the frustration of Lundy and Atlantic Coast Airlines, the original Barnstaple aerodrome was swallowed up within this expansion. However, the firm did continue with their repair work until the end of the war.
Today, at least one civilian hangar is extant (a Boulton and Paul example), and this is similar to the origianl small hangar at Exeter Airport. A blister hangar also survives, but this dates from World War II and was probably used by the Civilian Repair Organisation.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV323390Report - non-specific: Francis, P.. 1999. Exeter Airport. Historic Airport Survey for Devon County Council & East Devon District Council. Airfield Research Publishing Report. Digital + A4. 17.

Associated Monuments

MDV51992Related to: Royal Air Force Base Chivenor (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events

  • EDV4774 - Historic Airport Survey, Exeter Airport

Date Last Edited:Aug 18 2010 8:40AM