View Full Version : Raf West Kirby

19th Nov 2009, 14:46
I am trying to find out in which year the married quarters at RAF West Kirby, near Greasby, on the Wirral, were built and who built them (ie contractors name). Any help whould be appreciated.

Thank You.


26th Nov 2009, 10:28

Further to post No.1. I have been informed that the married quarters at West Kirby were built with German/Italian POW labour in about 1949. Could this be right?


Atcham Tower
26th Nov 2009, 10:48
That may well be true, as many PoWs were retained in the UK for various tasks for a year or two after the war. The houses were certainly there in the mid-1950s when I was a kid.

26th Nov 2009, 15:57
Airmen and NCO married quarters were at Greasby as I recall, the Officers were nearer to West Kirby itself. Like Atcham Tower I recall them from my childhood. I also remember the first time I actually touched an aircraft was at West Kirby. Aged about 7 myself and a couple of pals had cycled up from Meols to peer through the main gate. A pleasant young Officer invited us in and allowed us onto the wings of the gate guardians; a meteor and a tempest if my memory serves. Later after the site closed we used to wander around the ranges looking for spent ammo. I had a fair collection of 303, 9mm and some larger pistol rounds (possibly .45?). I could never understand why it was known to thousands of airmen as RAF Belsen -by-Sea;)

27th Nov 2009, 16:56
Wasn't it close to the storage depot for 'chemical' weapons ie mustard gas; that would explain it.

28th Nov 2009, 14:40
I suspect the answer was more "basic" than that.:rolleyes:

28th Nov 2009, 16:19
If you are really keen to find out; If you search on google maps for the estate to get the names of the roads. You can then do a land registry search for one of the properties.

10th Dec 2009, 11:46
EGGP, you seem to have hit on a good idea there. I never thought of the land registry.

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. As always this site is a mine of information and assistance.



10th Dec 2009, 11:49

EGGP, you seem to have hit on a good idea there. I never thought of the land registry.

Thank you all for your comments and suggestions. As always this site is a mine of information and assistance.



10th Dec 2009, 15:31
Old home territory for me as well. Cycled past the former main gate to school in the 1960s.

Never understood why it was called "RAF West Kirby", nowhere near, must have been to fool the enemy ! Why not RAF Greasby ? And "Belsen-by-sea" ? It wasn't too close to the sea either. Best part of an hour's walk to either. When did it close ? Seems to have been gone by the early 1960s (was it a National Service training base ?), although Saughall Massie Road alongside is still known as "the camp road" to older inhabitants.

Never knew any aircraft were there.

The "RAF houses" (I presume they are sold now) to the west of Pump Lane are typical immediate post-war government/local authority housing designs taken from the 1947 Housing Handbook. This was a set of architects drawings produced centrally, using standard materials, which a builder could just work to. They are not "pre-fabs". Quite a good idea for dealing with the post war housing shortage, notwithstanding that they all look the same all over the country, and you have to watch for any asbestos specified in the insulation. They have obviously stood the test of time better than 1970s council estate structures.

The labour might have included PoWs but they would need managing, materials ordering, etc. I think you may find the local building firm of Tottey & Capper could have been involved. Apparently the company is still around, though doubt any records are.

Regarding PoW labour in 1949, this was when the last few were reptriated, but a significant number, particularly Italians, chose to remain in the UK as normal employees, so it could also have been ex-PoW labour.

Atcham Tower
10th Dec 2009, 19:12
Drifting a bit off thread, the RAF West Kirby site was earmarked just prewar as an airfield, probably for Coastal Command, but a ground camp was built instead.

10th Dec 2009, 22:53
When I was posted to RAF Sealand in the 1960s it had inherited the quarters at Greasby from RAF West Kirby, some others from RAF Hooton Park (Irby?) and others from RAF Hawarden.
There were only about 30 RAF personnel at Sealand. So there was a large surfeit of MQs.
There were hundreds of civilian Radio Techs and I know many of them rented the MQs at Greasby, Irby and Hooton. I believe the occupants were given the option to purchase.
There was a daily shuttle service which ran between those sites, delivering them to Sealand.
I still don't know who built the ones at Greasby but enquiries have been made.

11th Dec 2009, 09:30
And still the info comes in.
Thanks you all very much. Any info is greatfully received and it all add to the picture.


11th Dec 2009, 15:35
A further thought occured to me ; have you tried the archives at Wirral Council? they may hold information from the planning point of view about the development of the site. If they don't then try Cheshire county council because Wirral came under that county prior to 1974.

midnight retired
11th Dec 2009, 17:09
The Cheshire County Council has an excellent website that will allow you to access old maps and aerial photo's.
If you click on the link it should show you a 1970's photo of the area and if you zoom in the outline of the former camp stands out quite clearly with the Married Quarters on the South East perimeter


If you google RAF West Kirby Association you will find all manner of information that might just include the clues that you need.

Good Luck.

13th Dec 2009, 16:12
You might also be interested in a book called "West Kirby and Beyond" By Dennis Tomlinson.
Published in 2001 by Ameliel Press. ISBN 0 9534505 2 X.
It's a small paperback of servicemen's memories of West Kirby but it also contains a reasonable potted history and a number of photos. Nothing about the married patch though.

14th Dec 2009, 10:11

Keep the messages coming. I am enjoying this. They all add to the history of RAF West Kirby that I am trying to find out.

Thanks again.


14th Dec 2009, 19:57
A few more thoughts for you.
Probably called West Kirby, rather than one of the nearer but smaller settlements, as that was the postal sorting office which served it.
Another major house builder locally were Farrals.
Belsen by Sea, this was the epithet used by a former colleague of mine who had, somewhat unwillingly, done his square bashing there on national service. I suspect there were many young men who felt the same even if they subsequently enjoyed their days in the "Mob."

Big Tudor
15th Dec 2009, 19:38
Don't wish to state the obvious, and apologies if you have been down this road, but have you tried the RAF West Kirby Association for info?
RAF West Kirby Association (http://www.rafwka.co.uk/). Seems to be quite a bit of info on there.
I will ask around at home, a number of friends have fathers in the building trade who may remember.

30th Dec 2009, 10:24

Once again, thank you, one and all, for your posts and a happy new year.