Description: Central General Service Hangar (Hangar 2), Hooton Park Aerodrome
Date Listed: 6 May 1988
English Heritage Building ID: 215657
OS Grid Reference: SJ3727278855
OS Grid Coordinates: 337272, 378855
Latitude/Longitude: 53.3029, -2.9427
1755/10/259 SOUTH ROAD
19-FEB-03 Central General Service Hangar (Hangar
2), Hooton Park Aerodrome
(Formerly listed as:
CENTRAL GENERAL SERVICE HANGAR AT HOOT
ON PARK AIRFIELD (ON PREMISES OF GENER
General service hangar. 1917 for the Royal Flying Corps. Red brick with bitumen-felted roof. Single-storey twin-range hangar of 16 bays in length, with flanking workshops. Corner pylons of 6 brick piers linked at top by segmental arches; south-west pylon forms water tower. Doors at north end are in 3 tiers of horizontally-sliding pairs; segmentally-headed gables with vertical studding and louvred openings. Continuous roof lanterns to each range. Sides of hangars have raking buttresses to each bay; 27-pane iron casements above contemporary lean-to offices to central part of each side; other later additions (not of special interest). South end has modern, brick facade. Interior: each bay divided by a wooden-latticed 'Belfast' roof truss; central arcade of twin brick piers linked by segmental arches.
HISTORY: Hooton Park, the site of a demolished house whose park was partly laid out as a racecourse in the late 19th century, was requisitioned by the army in 1914. It was developed in 1917 as a Training Depot Station, the need for training pilots destined for the Western Front supplanting its intended use as a re-assembly plant for imported American-built aircraft coming through Liverpool docks: the hangars were begun in late 1916 and completed in 1917.
Hooton Park, through its location close to the port of Liverpool, relates to an internationally-significant group of sites and buildings associated with the development of communications (from coastal to trans-Atlantic shipping, railways and finally aviation). It was originally intended to function as an Aircraft Acceptance Park for the reception and manufacture of American-built aircraft, the need to train fighter pilots destined for service in France leading to its formation, in September 1917, as a training depot station for Canadian and American pilots. After closure in 1919, its training functions were moved to RAF Shotwick (Sealand), across the Dee in Clywd. Hooton's role in civil aviation is important, for after its selection in 1927 as one of a small number of Air Ministry-subsidised flying clubs (following a meeting in Liverpool Town Hall supported by Sir Sefton Branckner, the Director of Civil Aviation), and the formation of the Comper Aircraft Company on the site in 1930, it served as Liverpool's municipal airport from 1930 until its replacement by Speke in 1933. As such, it relates to a formative phase in civil aviation - immediately post-dating official government encouragement of the industry - and, at Speke, the II* listed terminal and hangar buildings.
610 'County of Chester' Squadron, had been formed at Hooton in February 1936, and went on to play a key role in the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain. From early 1940, No 7 Aircraft Assembly Unit assembled some 9000 aircraft brought into Merseyside's ports from North America, and the 'Civilian Repair Organisation' headed by Martin Hearn made a significant contribution towards the war effort through the inspection and overhaul of aircraft, especially the Mosquito. Hooton's role in the Battle of the Atlantic is another important factor, and one that is linked to its position close to the key port of Liverpool. The station's Operations Record Books show that Hooton played a vital support role in keeping the shipping lanes into Liverpool open, through the flying of 'Scarecrow Patrols'. It formed one of Coastal Command's Coastal Patrol Flights, whose aircraft were sent to look for and deter submarines: the Lysanders of 13 Squadron took over this function in 1940. No. 206 Squadron flew Avro Reconnaissance bombers from Hooton Park, later replaced by American Hudsons and the Whitley bombers of 502 Squadron, the latter fitted with radar equipment that proved to be an effective weapon in the U-boat war. No 11 Radio School and its associated units, which occupied the hangars from 1942-44, played an important role as the only school set up for the purpose of training Coastal Command's airborne radar operators for submarine detection. At present, only the seaplane hangars at Mount Batten in Plymouth, the Sunderland Flying Boat Sheds at Pembroke Dock in Wales (which played a vital role in the U-boat conflict in the Bay of Biscay area) and Atlantic House in Liverpool (the operational headquarters for the battle) have been listed through their association with this vitally important campaign. The US Navy base at Dunkeswell in Devon (qv), has also been identified as a complete and historically important site associated with a campaign where air power proved to be a decisive factor.
The hangars were built by Holland, Hannan and Cubitt Ltd to a type design by the Royal Engineers, with 80ft spans and 25ft clear heights. The 'Belfast' roof trusses were manufactured by D Anderson and Co., Belfast. The doors slid into brick gantries, which have been subject to removal and alteration on the 'Vauxhall' hangar. The repair hangar has been demolished (circa 1920), as is the case with all First World War training and operational airfields with the exception of Old Sarum in Wiltshire. Of the 66 stations of this type operational in November 1918 Hooton Park shares with Duxford in Cambridgeshire the distinction of being the only site to have retained its original complement of 3 paired hangars. This is a rare survival of significance within the context of early powered flight within both a British and European context, enhanced by Hooton's later historic associations. Two runways were laid in 1941. The three paired hangars at Hooton and across the Dee at RAF North Shotwick (Sealand, Clywd) were built for the same Wing, and operated together as a pair: the survival of both related groups is unique.
(Operations Record Book, Public Record Office, AIR 28/376-377; Phil Butler, David J Smith, Ian Turner, Barry H Abraham and David Ewing, Hooton Park Aerodrome, Cheshire. Some Historical Information, unpublished report, 1999).
Listing NGR: SJ3727278856
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.