Monkmoor Aerodrome


As a resident of Shrewsbury who had never heard of Monkinoor Aerodrome I was most interested in your article in the April Motor Sport. However, since reading it I have been following up the clues you provided.

The trail took me first to the Local Studies Reference Library where I was shown a 1928 Street Directory with the entry “F. J. Holmes, aeronautical engineer” occupying one of the cottages on Monkmoor Road. There was a 1925 revision of the 25 in. Ordnance Survey showing the large brick and corrugated iron hangar buildings which still, modified into business premises, occupy most of the east side of Mookmoor Road from the Telford Way Roundabout to opposite the Isolation Hospital. I had never noticed the brick arches which would have supported the hangar doors, when open, before.

Mr. Ron James, the curator of the Clive House Museum, lived in Monkmoor Road as a Child and could remember, about 1917 – 18, planes being delivered in sections from the railway station for assembly, in the hangars, ready for take-off to various operational bases.

My weekly lunchtime visit to the “Old Bush” in Abbey Foregate was most productive, memories being stirred among the older regulars. The hangars, it was recalled, were built towards the end of the Great War and used as Mr. James had said. After that war Mr. Walter Vaughan, a successful Shrewsbury hatter, bought the hangars and airfield for development, his son-in-law Mr. Ince using the hangars for indoor tennis and a skating rink. For a time Mr. Holmes rented the site from Mr. Vaughan and ran an air service to Manchester and other destinations. He was jined by a pilot who flew joy rides (presumably Capt. Fresson).

The punch line came when Mr. Richard Rowly, Royal Horse Artillery driver in the Great War, recalled without any previous mention of gates, that in the 1920’s he worked at a timber yard in the vicinity and had to construct a very long gate which was hung so as to close Monkmoor Road to traffic when planes were crossing, from the hangars already described, to the landing field opposite. Mr. Rowley remembered the discussion with Mr. Vaughan, who was paying for the gate, as to whether to set the massive gate-post in concrete and eventually deciding not to on grounds of economy. The site of the airfield is now entirely covered by housing development.

The answer to my query about the open space, which you noted, farther down the road, was that it was the Cavalry Training Ground where the Shropshire Yeomanry once used to exercise. I should have known about that but in those between the war years I was performing similar mounted manoeuvres with the Leicestershire Yeomanry, hence my point of contact with Mr. Rowley.

Finally, during World War Two the hangars were taken over by the RAF and used as workshops without an airfield, a number of typical WW2 RAF outbuildings being added. A perimeter fence was also erected which effectively obliterated any traces of the massive gate-post.

Copthorne, Anthony Blackwall