Disguised to fool enemy bombers

April 1939: The air traffic control building at Greatham Airport
April 1939: The air traffic control building at Greatham Airport

THE article in Memory Lane on Greatham Airport certainly did bring back memories.

As a youngster I used to play on the airport runways.

Aunt Gladys lived in Ilkley Grove just next to Jutland Road.

These were the days when the groves included Aden, Calcutta and Bombay.

Little India much changed now, as has most of the area that was the airport then.

My cousin, Charlie King, and I used to spend a full day exploring what was part of 13 Group Battle of Britain airport.

I believe there were Hurricanes and Spitfires operational.

The sheer size is something that a lot of people don’t realise now that the Steelworks and housing have occupied much of the land.

But back then it was largely under-developed.

Traces of the war years are still to be seen. Bunkers that are now listed buildings.

In particular was a bungalow down on the left toward the Power Station, which is a landfill at Seaton Meadows.

On the outside with its red tile roof it looked like any other bungalow.

On the inside there were bomb proof steel doors.

Squadron information was painted on the walls.

It must have served as an operational unit disguised to fool enemy bombers.

Maybe some of readers can shed more light on this.

It should have been kept for future generations.

Instead it became a target for vandals that led to demolition.

It’s sad to see things disappear.

But another feature of the bygone days is just around the corner, as you turn right on Tees Road.

A control tower is visible just as you go over the bridge before Graythorp.

I remember it once was a scrap yard for cars, used back then as an office.

Charlie and myself would spend hours walking around the airport site.

It was a shame that it was not brought into use again.

I’m certain that it would have been an asset to the town but what is taken away can never be brought back.

In closing, I seem to remember there was an aircraft made an emergency landing, thinking possibly it was still an operational airport.

It did land safely, but one of its wheels hit a pothole and it crashed.

Long and happy days full of fun and adventure that cost nothing.

Victor Tumilty,

Hartlepool.