The aviation history of Heathrow, Hanworth, Heston and Hendon, along with other airfields in the london area, has been well documented over the years, but many will be surprised to hear that a small airfield also existed in Acton. Eddie Menday has been delving further for information.
FROM time to time it is surprising how local history comes to light. I was reading in the Croydon Airport Society magazine that someone calling in at the Croydon Airport Visitor Centre had made an enquiry about Acton Aerodrome.
This was investigated by the archivists of the society and a short article was later published in the magazine.
It takes us back to the early part of the 20th century, when flying was in its infancy.
I also researched this little-known airfield at the local history section at Hounslow Library.
It would appear that in 1909, close to Hanger Hill in Ealing, was an early aerodrome, named Piffards Airfield, where a Horace Piffard tested what was described as the 'latest British aeroplane', which only flew a few feet above the ground.
It was similar to the Wright and Cody aircraft at the time and was built in Chiswick and tested on Turnham Green.
The site of Acton Aerodrome is
close to the present Park Royal station and would have been cut by the Western Avenue.
From 1910 to 1914 the airfield had a number of names, including the London Aviation Ground when it was used for training.
The Ruffey-Baumann School of Flying later took over the aerodrome from the London Aviation Company.
During the last years of the Great War the government pressed for increased manufacture of aircraft, and the Alliance Aircraft Company was formed by the fine arts and furniture company Waring and Gillows, which operated a factory at Hammersmith.
Here they produced DH9 and DH10 aircraft for the De Havilland Company and parts for other aircraft.
After the war, the company turned to building civilian aircraft and produced the P2 Seabird.
The first of these, G-EAGL, completed a flight to Spain in seven-and-a-half hours.
The Australian government was keen to encourage flights to the country and put up a prize of £10,000 for the first flight there.
The second P2 Seabird entered for this epic flight and on November 13, 1919 it took off from Hounslow Heath Aerodrome.
Unfortunately, soon after take-off it developed a structural problem and crashed at Surbiton, killing the two crew members, Captain RM Douglas and Lieutenant JL Ross.
The last recorded flight from Acton was on April 1920, when a
Nieuport London triplane bomber took off on a test flight.
The factory at Turnham Green continued to produce parts for aircraft until the Second World War, when it was requisitioned by the Ministry of Aircraft Production for making parts for Mosquito aircraft.
In 1945 Waring and Gillows sold the premises to WHSmith.