Field Day


Lavendon's WW1 airfield

The Monday Photo

On the Harrold road from Lavendon is a field. Actually, there are lots of fields, but only one is known as the Aerodrome Field.

It’s easy to find. About a quarter of a mile out of the village is Snip Wood, next to the road on your right. The old airfield is then on your left, between the road and Lavendon Wood on the top of the hill.

But look on old maps and you’ll see that this was once three fields, and I think the aerodrome was in the middle one.

The nearer hedgerow for the middle field ran across the upper middle of the photo, starting from a little way past the bend in the hedge, on the left. The further hedgerow ran from about where the hedge on the left drops into shadow, again right across the photo.

I think it’s likely that the grass runway ran roughly along the route of the overhead lines, diagonally across that middle field.

That would give the aerodrome 1,200 feet of grass runway. That’s a luxurious amount of takeoff room for a Sopwith Camel, perhaps the most well known of the Royal Flying Corps’ First World War fighters.

Although it doesn’t look too level it’s a reasonably flat piece of land that points into the prevailing wind, and is higher than the surrounding land for approaching aircraft. I suppose there would have been another runway at a different angle for when the wind changed. 

The airfield was established by the Royal Flying Corps in October 1916, and intended for night landings and home defence, but never much used.

After the war the aerodrome was used by private aircraft enthusiasts, until it closed in the late 1920s. The field is under cultivation, and any evidence has long gone. But there is a memorial plaque at the front of Lavendon’s village hall.

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