Remembering the days when you could fly to London from Hartlepool

The DC3 which flew from Greatham to London.
The DC3 which flew from Greatham to London.

Here’s a triple poser for you.

Who remembers the days of Greatham Airport?

The watercolour which marked the 25th anniversary of the Greatham to London flight, including artist John Wigston, right.

The watercolour which marked the 25th anniversary of the Greatham to London flight, including artist John Wigston, right.

Who remembers the Greatham to London flight which was launched in 1953?

And who remembers the special painting which was produced to mark the 25th anniversary of the flight in 1978?

It was back in the 1950s when passengers first got to fly on a DC3 aeroplane which made the journey called the Greatham to Northolt run. Remember it?

The Hartlepool Mail reminisced on this when we carried a story in 1978. The year marked the 25th anniversary of that first flight, and it was remembered with the special painting of a watercolour to mark the occasion.

Local councillors, airport committee members and some of the men associated with BKS who operated the Cleveland-London service were at a special get-together to celebrate the anniversary

Hartlepool Mail reporter, 1978

The painting was done by Hartlepool artist John Wigston and he was commissioned to put it together in record time.

He said at the time: “I had a telephone call on Friday from John Perrin, who is a historian with the Teesside Air Enthusiasts Group, asking if I would like to do a picture for the event.

“I was happy to agree.

“I had to rush a bit to have it ready for the anniversary, but watercolour is a pretty direct and fast medium.”

The picture showed the shining DC3 sailing into clouds, but it also showed just a glimpse of Hartlepool’s mainland visible far below.

The watercolour was presented to the airport manager, Teesside, Mr CK Cole and the chairman of the airport committee, County Coun A Pearson.

A Hartlepool Mail report at the time said: “Local councillors, airport committee members and some of the men associated with BKS, who operated the Cleveland-London service, were at a special get-together to celebrate the anniversary.”

Airport guests joined in the 25th anniversary celebrations when they looked round a DC3.

And they could compare it with the later model DC9, which was more modern and took over the route in later years.

The official opening of the civic airport at Greatham happened on Saturday, April 15, 1938, by HM Secretary of State for Air, Sir Kingsley Wood MP.

The day’s events got underway with passenger flights for five shillings in either a De Havilland Express Air Liner (10 seater), a Monospar (four seater), Cadet (two seater) or a Fox Moth, which was a five-seater biplane.

At 2pm a Vega Gull aircraft took to the air for a demonstration flight.

Following this flight was a parachute descent by a Miss Ray Clark, who was to ascend in a De Havilland Tiger Moth piloted by Unit Leader W M Mackay.

A Royal Air Force display of bomber and fighter squadrons and a fly-past of new RAF aircraft added to the occasion.

Music for the opening ceremony was provided by the West Hartlepool Old Operatic Prize Silver Band and the guard of honour was provided by the Durham Heavy Regiment.

What are your memories of Greatham Airport? Email chris.cordner@jpimedia.co.uk