View Full Version : RAF Sealand

16th Oct 2009, 09:51
Rhydymwyn Valley History Society (RVHS) are with the co-operation of Mike Grant who was the co-author of the Wings Over Wales series going to write a History of RAF Sealand.
The South Camp is currently up for sale by Defence Estates. Some applications for listing certain buildings was refused on the advice of WDA as it wishes to dispose of the complete site as a package.
We have arranged to be given full escorted access, excluding some buildings with asbestos issues, to obtain a photographic record. This is for historic reasons and also for comparison with archive photographs for our book.
The East Camp is still an active site but we have again obtained an agreement for escorted access. We will be asked not to photograph certain sensitive areas.
If anyone wants any particular buildings to be photographed in greater detail please tell us.
Any information/documentation/photos will be gratefully received and attributed.
We think time is of the essence here

16th Oct 2009, 16:19
RAF Sealand

Many years ago the Merseyside Aviation Society did an excellent history of Sealand in soft back.If you could get your hands on a copy may help.Unfortunately I've misplaced my copy together with companion volumes on RAF Shawbury and RAF Burtonwood.


22nd Oct 2009, 09:39
The History of Royal Air Force Sealand was published in 1978 and is out of print. We understand the author is going to publish an updated version and we wish him well.
Although our proposed book will record the basic history it is not intended to be a military aviation volume. Sealand has been an integral part of the life of the local community for many years and we are interested in recording the experiences of anyone who has been involved or influenced by it. We hope to get a lot of people involved in doing history.
It will not be pure Studs Terkel but it will be influenced by him.
So any one with a Sealand story please tell us.

Brewster Buffalo
24th Oct 2009, 14:57
Sealand must hold a record for its longevity having opened in 1917 for flying training and still in military use...

26th Oct 2009, 08:53
Funny how things turn out.

I drove past there yesterday.

The new dual carriage way looks like it chops the front of the air field off.

I heard that there used to be an aircraft on display at the main gates.

Does anyone know what aircraft it was ?

26th Oct 2009, 09:43
Used to be two aircraft on display,one either side of the Queensferry by-pass.The one there longest was a Hunter on the east side.Can't be 100% about the west side but Swift seems to ring a bell.


26th Oct 2009, 10:56
I heard that there used to be an aircraft on display at the main gates.

Does anyone know what aircraft it was ?

I recollect, as an ATC cadet, we used to have to 'eyes right' the Spitfire that was on the gate, whilst we were on weekend drill camps.

Funny old thing but some years later I flew many sorties in it (TD248) following its restoration back to its rightful place in the sky.


26th Oct 2009, 11:21
There was a Spitfire at the gate in the late 80s, ex THUM/CAACU (Lt Snoring), and now resored and flying again. Was in silver with a red cheat line - 41 Sqn. DA will know the tech stuff like serial no and history..

26th Oct 2009, 14:39
In the late seventies there was a Spitfire at the North Camp gate and a Sea Hawk at the South Camp.

26th Oct 2009, 15:19
As a graduate of MCCTTS and then having worked at E&I wing, I have fond memories of the place, and would be interested in a copy of the history.

WRT the Seahawk, I saw it arrive from Culdrose, all in black and marked as SAH1. I recall it was a swap for the Hunter which had been used for the airframe courses and which was intended for export to one of the South American operators.

I have often wondered if the Ferranti ATLAS computer in the training school was saved for posterity.

When I was there, they had a MRT as a sub-unit of RAF Stafford, but IIRC then lost that privelege as a result of a weekend jape involving the removal of a mail coach from outside a public house near Capel Curig.:uhoh:

26th Oct 2009, 17:13
Spitfire LF16 serial TD248, now in camouflage colour scheme. Flying Legends 2009 photo at www.simplyplanes.co.uk/duxford_flyoing_legends_airshow.html

26th Oct 2009, 22:27
This thread shows the gate guardians histories. I didn't know
UK - Gate Guardian Aircraft - January 2009 Update - Google Earth Community (http://bbs.keyhole.com/ubb/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=324087)

Krystal n chips
27th Oct 2009, 17:33
As far as I am aware, the original Station gates now reside at the entrance to Cosford airfield.

Purely as an aside, the sports pavilion was there in the 60's as I changed in it as a space cadet, again in the 70's playing cricket for Valley and was still standing (just!) last time I looked in 2007. A miracle of construction.

You could also mention Cosford's Blanik....I think...which arrived there one day somewhat unexpectedly....after a decent wave flight.

Brewster Buffalo
27th Oct 2009, 20:30
According the Thunder and Lightnings web site -

In mid 2006 with Sealand's closure she (the Hawker Hunter) was sold to Nigel Spurr who had her moved and put on display within his facility on the Swinderby Road just south-east of North Scarle.

27th Oct 2009, 23:21
Looks a nice display.

Picture from Google Earth.(c) 2009 Tele Atlas

29th Oct 2009, 16:47
As far as I am aware, the original Station gates now reside at the entrance to Cosford airfield.

Purely as an aside, the sports pavilion was there in the 60's as I changed in it as a space cadet, again in the 70's playing cricket for Valley and was still standing (just!) last time I looked in 2007. A miracle of construction.

As of today there is a pair of gates on the East Camp on a skip behind the NAAFI. At Sealand there were three camps and many entrances so perhaps the ones at Cosford are one of these others but seem not to be the main gates.
We could not manage to cover the whole of two camps and the sports field but the pavilion is still standing and is vandal-proofed, not a pretty girl but durable.
The East Camp is pretty well complete but the South Camp is struggling.

9th Nov 2009, 08:52
Rhydymwyn Valley History Society (RVHS) are with the co-operation of Mike Grant who was the co-author of the Wings Over Wales series going to write a History of RAF Sealand.
The books referred to should of course be Wings Across the Border. Apologies to Mike and Derrick Pratt

19th Nov 2009, 16:31
See the following interesting link

The Leader - Nothing will stop huge Gateway project to secure Flintshire's economic future (http://www.leaderlive.co.uk/news/81185/nothing-will-stop-huge-gateway-project-to-secure-flintshire-s-economic-future.aspx)

7th Mar 2011, 22:12
Most of the South Camp will be gone by the end of this week.
Lead or Rumour info - RAF Sealand - Page 2 - UK Urban Exploration Forums (http://www.28dayslater.co.uk/forums/showthread.php?p=696791#post696791)

20th Apr 2011, 23:34
The following pictures are the final days of the remains of the Single Officers Quarters. Most of the buildings are removed and after these two buildings all that will remain of South Camp will be the two C Hangars, the two Lamellas and the MT Section.





6th May 2011, 23:35




8th Jul 2011, 19:45
One of the Lamellas has gone and it is rumoured the Type Cs are going. The site is now almost completely clear





24th Aug 2011, 19:09
This is one of the C hangars only one to go and one Lamella




25th Aug 2011, 22:27
:{ Driving past there is never going to be the same.......:{

22nd Oct 2011, 11:33
These record the demise of the last C Type the Lamella in the background will be demolished by the year end.





9th Feb 2012, 18:37
This is the last major structure on South Camp. A number of the interiors were unrecorded. The developer despite prior agreement did not allow access to photograph and record.

We will be going on East Camp shortly to record as many interiors as possible, just in case it is sold.





air pig
11th Feb 2012, 23:41
Spitfire and a Vampire

Krystal n chips
12th Feb 2012, 12:11
Air pig.....care to elaborate on your last post please. ?

14th Feb 2012, 13:15
Be nice if someone could rescue the RAF Sealand base sign far right in the first pic of post 23.

Krystal n chips
14th Feb 2012, 16:51
Air pig..sorry, but just to clarify your rather cryptic post....are you saying there is a Spitfire and Vampire hangared at Sealand?.....as I suspect a lot of people would be interested to learn more if this is the case.

24th Jul 2014, 10:41
There are a number of pictures of the interior of East Camp taken recently on this link https://www.rhydymwynvalleyhistory.co.uk/gallery/gallery-sealand.htm we do have others if there is any interest

air pig
24th Jul 2014, 11:44
No, that that they were on display in the sixties and seventies.

29th Jul 2014, 08:49
My Uncle Tom was stationed at RAF Sealand during WW2 and was a Sgt Pilot(VR) Flight testing US aircraft reassembled after arrival from the US via the Liverpool/Birkenhead Docks, sadly he was killed test flying a P40 Tomahawk, I asked for a copy of the inquiry into his death and was surprised to read the Tomahawk was fully gunned up and armed, perhaps someone could tell me was this the way A/c were flight tested after re-assembly from the US, or would a flight test also be the delivery flight of that A/c to its intended aerodrome?
Peter RB

30th Jul 2014, 20:29
Spent five years there from 80-85 (after putting 'not Sealand' on my preferences for posting. lesson learned there...). Worked in 6 Sqdn on F4 stuff. Work was a bit boring but my kids were little, I bought my first house and it was an 8 to 5 job. Didn't like it at the time but looking back it was ideal from a family point of view.

The gate guardian was the Mk 16 Spit and I well remember looking at it thinking 'That bugger will never fly again'.

Most notable event was an earthquake when I was on Orderley Dog that put a ripple in the concrete floor of the guardroom.

17th Jun 2015, 13:58
Was there any means for aircraft to cross the railway which ran between the airfield and the hangars?

17th Jun 2015, 19:12
Was there any means for aircraft to cross the railway which ran between the airfield and the hangars?


"Another interesting feature of RAF Sealand is a facility to allow the safe movement of aircraft across the railway between North and South Camps. Sections of tarmac survive to the north and south of the line of the former railway and there are also traces of crossing barriers, to prevent accidental collisions with passing trains."

Clwyd-Powys Archaeological Trust - Projects - Recent projects - Airfields (http://www.cpat.org.uk/projects/longer/airfield/airfield.htm)

17th Jun 2015, 21:03
Thanks Dave. Can see no sign of a crossing on google earth.

17th Jun 2015, 21:16
Looks like it was here: 53 13 27.5 N 3 00 40.0 W

Some photos: CPAT121196 (http://www.cofiadurcahcymru.org.uk/arch/query/page.php?watprn=CPAT121196&dbname=cpat&tbname=core)

17th Jun 2015, 21:27
And the location of one of the sliding gates:


North Wales Coast Railway Notice Board 14 March 2011 (http://www.nwrail.org.uk/nw1103b.htm)

19th Jun 2015, 15:16
This is the last major structure on South Camp. A number of the interiors were unrecorded. The developer despite prior agreement did not allow access to photograph and record.

We will be going on East Camp shortly to record as many
interiors as possible, just in MG]http://i472.photobucket.com/albums/rr82/ColinBa/05.jpg[/IMG]




If you want a bit of sealand to keep a reclamation yard in hoylake is selling sheets of hangar roof. Its good stuff her indoors got some for the allotment. They were in 30 foot lengths.

30th May 2016, 09:58
There will be four days of celebration as here https://rhydymwynvalleyhistory.co.uk/events/events-2016-sealand.htm

30th May 2016, 16:45
Does Sealand not have the Calibration Testing Station part of DIO/MoD left or has that gone too?

30th May 2016, 17:10
Yes. I believe so

9th Jun 2016, 21:27

If its not too late a piece about 5 FTS RAF Sealand in the early days (1929!)

I have it in my archive of doings at 5 FTS, RAF Thornhill, S. Rhodesia when I was stationed there 1951-1953. Passed on FWIW.


5 FTS RAF Sealand 1929 - Then and Now (1952)
(As printed in the July 1952 issue of “BUKA” station magazine of 5 FTS R.A.F. Thornhill, S. Rhodesia)
Article written by a NCO then at R.A.F. Thornhill (5 FTS) in 1952 recounting details of his first days of service on being posted to 5 FTS (R.A.F. Sealand) in 1929
By Warrant Officer Kennedy

“Squad, stand easy; pay attention while I tell you your postings.”
How well I remember that day at Uxbridge in September 1929. No. 17 Squad, after four months of “square-bashing,” was being dispersed. “A.C.2 Grimes, R.A.F., Hornchurch; A.C.2 Bowers, R.A.F. Kidbrook; A.C.2 Kennedy, No. 5 F.T.S., Sealand.” The Sergeant’s voice droned on, but I was not listening.
Sealand! Only 60 miles from my home and reputed to be a good Station. What luck, I thought. This sense of pleasant anticipation saw me through the all-night journey to Chester, despite my burden of full-pack, webbing equipment, heavily laden kit bag, not to mention over-tight puttees and breeches j and a half-choking tunic hooked-and-eyed over an unsettled Adam’s apple.
“05.30. So this Is Chester. I wonder how far it is to No. 5 F.T.S., Sealand, from here.”
“Oh! About seven miles.” “But how are we going to get there at this early hour with all our kit?” asked one of my friends.
“Well,” I replied, “the R.A.F. don’t do things by halves; surely they must have been informed of our arrival and will probably meet us with transport.” This was my first taste of M.T. punctuality (?). After a two-and-a-half hour wait, with breakfast and cups of tea in between, along came an antiquated (modern then, of course) Leyland lorry with solid rubber tyres, a luxurious looking piece of mobile mechanism which rumbled us off to our final destination.

As we drew close to our new Station, we scanned the horizon for a new arrivals’ preview. There she lay, some two miles away to the north of the River Dee, her billets and hangars lying in symmetrical and peaceful dignity under a still grey morning sky. It was here, at No. 5 F.T.S., that I was to begin living a real life as a member of the Service, a place where I was to see things I had never before seen; an aeroplane taking off and landing, formation flying, aerobatics, airmen being trained to fly (an aspiration which in those early days I kindled, alas without fruition, in my own’ heart). It was to be the place where I would witness the birth of many great aviators of the future and the beginning of maturity of what today is one of the Service’s Flying Schools and which forms a strong portion of the backbone of Royal Air Force Flying Training.
Sealand is a name originating from what it implies. This great airfield which environed the cradle days of No. 5 F.T.S. consisted of a huge portion of reclaimed land, the sea having receded many hundreds of years previously. In the early days of the Royal Air Force and in the formation and establishment of Flying Stations it was necessary to seek out large areas of level and unobstructed stretches of land. This to provide the maximum amount of safety from which to fly and land those demons of the sky which had neither wheel-brakes nor landing flaps or any other assisting aeronautical devices, and which on the modern aircraft of today are so numerous and essential. Though the aircraft of 25 years ago was a great advancement on the Wilbur Wright “box-kite” and other similar pioneering types of flying machines, there was, as events have since proved, a very large field of aeronautical science still to be explored. The safety factor of those early machines was one that often gave cause for no little concern, and to fly them dexterously was an achievement calling for the combination of courage, skill, diligence and determination. It was reliance on “the human factor which more often had to be sought when confronted with an aeronautical adversity. The solution of such adversities today (in most cases, thanks to modern science) can usually be located without error on the instrument of the cockpit.
The aircraft in use at No. 5 F.T.S., Sealand, in 1929, consisted of Siskins, Bristol Fighters and Avro 504K’s, all single engine bi-planes. The Siskin and Avro had radial air-cooled engines and the Bristol was water-cooled. All these aircraft were of an exceptionally light structure and it was quite a common occurrence to see a fitter pick up an Avro 504. K by is tail unit, walk it away and stow it in the hangar single handed. As we all know, of course, the strides that have been made in aviation over the past decade are phenomenal and it has been my privilege to witness the greater part of such changes since my early days at Sealand. During the two years spent there, the part I played was comparatively insignificant, though it minutely contributed to the Station role. Being an A.C.2 Driver (Petrol) and of small stature, I was trained and appointed as a “Hucks Starter” Driver. For those of the younger generation who may not have seen, or even heard, of a “Hucks Starter,” I will give a very brief description of its assemblage and use. It was an old “tin lizzie” (a prehistoric Ford with epicyclical gears) with an overhead chain drive off the transmission. The chain was geared to an overhead shaft which had at its extreme forward end a spring-loaded claw. This male claw was designed to mesh with a similar female claw fitted on the prop, boss of the aircraft for easy mechanical starting of its engine. The method of starting the aircraft engine was to drive the “Hucks” to within six or nine Inches of the centre of the prop, with the claws truly opposing then draw the “Hucks” male spring-loaded claw forward to mesh with the prop’s, female claw. “Lizzie’s”, engine was then started and with the deft swing of a Heath Robinson lever, the overhead shaft was rotated clockwise at sufficient speed until the aircraft engine started. When it did start, the excess speed of the prop, would throw out “Lizzie’s” spring-loaded claw. An extremely careful retreat had then to be made from the aircraft to avoid fouling the turning propeller. It was a successful, but highly dangerous procedure.

It was through this unique career-commencing occupation that I came in contact with, and came to know, many flying instructors and pupils, a number of who, during the first 20 years, had gained high places both in Service and Civil aviation, and many, too, who covered themselves and our great Service with glory in the Battle of Britain. There was L.A.C. (later Sgt., now Mr.) Bill Pegg, of Brabazon fame. This great flyer spent his early days with many other great pilots in No. 5 F.T.S., and was an instructor in the early ‘30’s. There was also Flt. Lt. Snaithe (ex Sgt.), of Schneider Trophy fame, now, I believe, an Air Commodore. He was also a No. 5 F.T.S. instructor with Pegg. And there were scores of others who have, through the years, slipped from memory. J
It was in 1932 that No. 5 F.T.S., Sealand, had the honour of receiving those two great American airmen, Wiley Post and J. Gatty, when they landed after their trans-Atlantic flight (on the first leg of their record-breaking trip round the world) in their monoplane, the “Winnie Mae of Oklahoma.” It was in these circumstances that the signal honour fell to me of being the first Englishman to greet these two gallant airmen. Their arrival was heralded by the high-revving noise of their engine as their sliver streamlined monoplane zoomed around the airfield in proud circuit. Landing with little delay they “lost their prop.” before finally coming to a standstill far out on the airfield. Being duty “Hucks Starter” driver I wasted no time when seeing their prop had stopped in going out to render the assistance it was thought they should need. It was this instant which circumstanced my being the first to meet them. On reaching them, however, and after a few brief words of conversational greeting, I learned that their machine, which was in design an advanced looking model, had in it many aspects of aircraft modernisation and advancement, including a self- starter, which, of course, dispensed with my services. After re-starting, they taxied to the hangars where the Station Commander and hundreds of curious spectators awaited them.
It was shortly after this that my period of service at No. 5 F.T.S., Sealand, drew to a close and I was subsequently posted to embark on the continuance of a Service career which has been both varied and adventurous during its 23 years. Yet, it never occurred to me that the closing years of my service would find me back at the old school, the foundations of my Service career had been laid. I am possessed of no small measure of pride for what, to me, seems a unique circumstance and, as the wheels’ of progress turn, my thoughts often reflect on . . . then and now.


9th Jun 2016, 21:50
I did my RAF Gliding Scholarship there when i was 16. Me and a pal got a travel warrant to take us straight from annual camp at RAF Coltishall to Sealand, and we sat on the grass everyday getting the most horrendous sunburn. Geoff Addy was my instructor, quite a big chap and used to wallop students from his back seat in the viking. I also remember literally skimming the roof of those hangars on every approach and was amazed that we never hit them. The trick was to time the sudden sink as you passed the roof and the retraction of the spoilers. Came close to parking on it a couple of times.

His one phrase of "Bootfuls o' Rudder boy" has always stayed with me, although I had to unlearn that the following year for my Flying Scholarship.

Happy times, and I always raise a smile whenever i pass by. Completely unrecognisable now.

14th Aug 2016, 09:08
Belated thanks for the two previous entries, we copied and displayed them where they attracted a lot of interest.
During the four day event there were two speakers each day covering many aspects of life at Sealand and the keynote speakers were Aldon Ferguson on the History of RAF Sealand and Mike Lewis on 610 Squadron.
The event exceeded all expectation and was closed by a church service attended by the Lord Lieutenant of Flintshire with lessons being read by Mark Tami MP and Mark Isherwood AM.
PSA at RAF Sealand for many years managed the Cold War activities at the Valley Works, Rhydymwyn and the tunnels there will be opened to the public for the first time on 11th September. See this link https://rhydymwynvalleyhistory.co.uk/events/events-2016-tunneltours.htm

28th Jan 2019, 08:45

1st Feb 2019, 12:33
A posting to 32 MU Sealand was regarded as a curse by all Electrical and Instrument Tradesmen in my time ('63 - '77) If we'd wanted to work in a factory we'd never have joined the RAF!

21st Jan 2021, 12:19
I was part of the first intake at MCCTTS back in '66/'67. Four-year apprenticeship then a further 6 years on the line. Trade was Instrument Maker, but we liked to be called Avionics Technicians!! Just wondering which year you joined/attended.
Just compiling a short video message to one of my then classmates, Tony Cliffe, who's celebrating his 70th next month. Looking for history to include in my 5 minute video.