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Sir,

On the subject of aircraft “level crossings”, I was reminded of your article when I was looking the other day at an aerial photograph of the BP Oil Ltd. installation at Hamble on Southampton Water. The installation is next to what is now Petters Ltd. factory but which I believe saw the birth of many early Avro aircraft in its early days, maintaining close connections with aircraft until being occupied by Petters – and even they are part of the Hawker-Siddeley Group. The point is this: the photo shows two aircraft on the ground by the factory which is on the western side of Hamble Lane, whereas Hamble Airfield is on the eastern side. In clear evidence is the crossing over which aircraft were taken to reach the factory and even today the road down which they came from the airfield carries cars and lorries through a wide exit onto Hamble Lane.

I may even have found another crossing related to the same airfield. On the far (north-eastern) corner of the airfield there is crash exit onto Satchell Lane and the exit forms part of a wide piece of fencing across a cornet where there is a break in the natural hedge around the perimeter. I am told that, during the last war, a dispersal hangar was sited on the opposite side of Satchell Lane from the airfield at this corner.

One must not forget, of course, the crossing at Lee-on-Solent which is used today by hovercraft moving from HMS Daedalus across the maw road into the Solent and which must surely have been used in the past by amphibians and/or flying boats. I have a feeling that you may have started something!

Incidentally, the aircraft in the aforementioned photograph, which must have been taken in about 1948-1950 are an Avro York, a Lincoln (the wings are too pointed to be a Lancaster) and, in the water, a Solent. I am told that the only Lincoln ever to come to Hamble was the flying test bed for the Proteus engine so, if my identification and information are correct, this may well be an historic photograph.

Southampton, D. E. BISHOP