View Full Version : UK - Bailbrook House

28th Nov 2010, 19:58
Not realising that the place had some history in ATC, I happened to spend the weekend staying at Bailbrook House while visiting Bath. It wasn't till I read up on the history of the hotel I discovered its past use.

The history was a bit vague and it stated it was an ATC training centre. NATS was very much up and running at Hurn at the time, so I can only assume it was SERCO or someone else.

Can anyone enlighten me with some history of what went on there?:confused:



28th Nov 2010, 20:09
It was, (I believe, something to do with IAL), but,....
a considerable number of NATS ATCOs underwent training there.

Atcham Tower
28th Nov 2010, 20:52
In a nutshell,it was Serco-IAL and I did an approach radar course there in 1983. The simulators were on the ground floor to the left of the main entrance. 'Twas said to have been used as a lunatic asylum at some time in the 1800s, so there was a precedent.

Standard Noise
28th Nov 2010, 21:04
It was owned by BT way back, then IAL. When I went through (as a NATS ATCO cadet) in 1993, there were six or seven nationalities being trained as ATCOs (UK, Russian, German, Norwegian, Libyan, some Africans and maybe others).

28th Nov 2010, 21:11
I was there as a NATS student in the early ninties,very busy ATC college run by IAL, the staff were pure diamonds.Ran all sorts of courses for many nationalities during my time remember Italians,Hungary,Seychelles,trinidad & Tobago,Nepalese,UAE,Norwegians:ok:,Swiss:hmm:,Jersey and HIAL. Bath still has a very warm place in my heart. The NATS connection was that as the courses around mid cse70's had 48 students (rising to 60 on cse79 IIRC) exactly half of the area candidates were outsourced to Bailbrook for Area Proc/Radar,my old room had a very nice view over the valley.Hope this helps.

28th Nov 2010, 21:39
Schofield, Johnson and Shepherd are names with a 'Bailbrook connection', and Llewellyn, of course. :E

28th Nov 2010, 21:45
Hong Kong students were also sent to Bath for their primary courses until it was closed down several years ago. You can find more information if you do a search of "Bailbrook College" in FB.

28th Nov 2010, 23:08
Indeed, Bailbrook House was originally a Lunatic Asylum and the bars on the windows remained throughout it's career as an ATC Training Establishment.

What goes on there now?

I loved my time there, probably more to do with the proximity of Avon RUFC, the City itself and a miriad of great pubs than the college.

Happy days.:p

29th Nov 2010, 11:14
Not only did they teach ATC but a variety of other courses. Including AIS, aeronautical cartography and instrument procedure design to name a few.

man friday
29th Nov 2010, 15:15
Had the luck to do my Area Procedural and Radar courses at Bailbrook in 1991 as a caa ATCO Cadet.

Brilliant place, its own bar and 5 a night subsistance allowance 'cause we were away from CATC. 3 meals a day provided with free accomodation...Happy Days!!

2 sheds
29th Nov 2010, 19:56
A slight correction to some of the detail of some posts above, if I may.

After lying semi-derelict for some time, BH was bought by International Aeradio Ltd (IAL) in 1978 and the IAL College of ATS (previously located at Oxford Airport in an unprepossessing single-storey block) started to move there and start operation at the end of that year along with other training initiatives. The accommodation and recreation block was added at that time.

IAL was a subsidiary of British Airways, having originally been owned by BOAC to provide ground services at various staging posts across the world and, in turn, Aerad was part of IAL. Prior to that time, IAL provided. or had provided, ATS at many locations world-wide - the West Indies, Libya, West Africa, East Africa, the Far East and notably the Middle East (Bahrein, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah etc) - and also at a number of small units in the UK, then just around that time (70s and 80s) adding contracts at Liverpool, Bournemouth and Southend Airports and the Brent Field HFIS in the North Sea.

BA later sold IAL down the river to BT who conducted an asset-stripping exercise and then sold the company on to Serco, whence it became Serco-IAL. As I understand it, Bailbrook College continued successfully until Serco overstretched themselves in their bid to get their sticky paws on NATS at the time of PPP and they were obliged to sell the family silver to make up their losses.

2 s

29th Nov 2010, 20:28
Thanks all! Very informative.

Now its an OK hotel and conference centre that does a superb breakfast!:ok:


29th Nov 2010, 21:32
As I remember the breakfast was always the best thing about the place.... Oh yes and the topless sunbathing Norwegian ATCO's !

29th Nov 2010, 23:52
BA later sold IAL down the river to BT who conducted an asset-stripping exercise and then sold the company on to Serco, whence it became Serco-IAL. I've a vague recollection that STC (Standard Telephones & Cables) also figured somewhere in the IAL acquisition process.

Possibly BA to STC to BT to SERCO ?

Somewhere in the transfers, staff lost many of their original IAL benefits, including discount air fares, holiday pay, progressive enhanced leave entitlement, and low interest loans for car purchase. :{

Tower Ranger
30th Nov 2010, 10:38
The first Nats course to be posted there was 74 Course Area Procedural in 1990. Wonderful experience and a great time was had by all, I`m still in touch with three of the Norwegians, happy days indeed!

30th Nov 2010, 11:24
Prior to Oxford, IAL had their college in Hayes (c1974), close to Viking House as it was then, at the north west corner of what was Heston Airfield. When we did our Sim course at Viking House(BEA training base), we met some guys from a previous cadet course in a local pub. They'd resigned from NATS at the end of their cadet course as the entire course was posted to LATCC and they wanted to go to airfields, so they joined IAL and were on a course at their college!

Red Dragon
30th Nov 2010, 15:52
Was one of the NATS guinea pigs to go there back in '89 to do approach and radar. There was all of two of us on the radar course...excellent!

Ah..the Norwegians...[glazes over]:p

Bailbrook made CATC look like a concentration camp.

30th Nov 2010, 16:02
<<IAL had their college in Hayes (c1974), >>

Not sure when it started there, but I did my initial ATC Course there in 1966. No Norwegian crumpet, just a very dour but very fair Trevor Wilson as the Chief Instructor. Great people to whom I owe my career.

30th Nov 2010, 20:32
CATC, - concentration camp?
But CATC had "a bar in the canteen", and the student's common room, (allegedly), had a lady serving tea and cakes through a serving hatch.

terrain safe
30th Nov 2010, 20:43
had a lady serving tea and cakes through a serving hatch

Very True.

Slabby or Sticky?

man friday
1st Dec 2010, 07:14
Given the choice of a Tea Lady with a no doubt fine selection of cakes and a 6 foot naked Norweigen bird in the sauna i know who i,d prefered lusting after!

That and the home made rum that the lads from Trinidad and Tobago were always willing to share made Bailbrook an experience my liver and teenage hormones will never forget:O

1st Dec 2010, 10:01
Graham Duffin and Noel Howes were also instructors at IAL Southall (?) in the mid-sixties.
The Southall building was also on final for 23L, much looking out of the window when there was a strong south westerly!

1st Dec 2010, 10:04
<< Given the choice of a Tea Lady with a no doubt fine selection of cakes and a 6 foot naked Norweigen bird in the sauna i know who i,d prefered lusting after! >>

Hmmm. Difficult. Send photos of cakes before I decide.:ok:

1st Dec 2010, 10:38
<<Graham Duffin and Noel Howes were also instructors at IAL Southall (?) in the mid-sixties.>>

Remember them well. Graham was one of the members on my final oral board in early 1967. Wonder if they're still around?

Other instructors there at the same time - Dennis Coop, Mike Lyons, Roger Hoyle.

1st Dec 2010, 10:51
Don't remember those names HD but there was also a Jerry (?) who was a bit of a character.

1st Dec 2010, 15:51
Two words...

Richard Lane!!!

The man was a legend :\

2 sheds
1st Dec 2010, 18:24
Gerry Gill, I believe you are thinking of. Noel ("use your cursor") Howes. Graeme ("we are in the sh*t") Altern, now retired in France, I think.

2 s

1st Dec 2010, 19:21
Graeme Altern.......now there's a name to conjure with!

1st Dec 2010, 20:47
Worked with Graeme in HLLT. He had a special way of getting a BBQ going involving half a gallon of petrol!

Jerry Gill - yep! Alas, I believe that he is no longer with us.

2nd Dec 2010, 11:37
Is Barry Plimmer still with us?

Graham Altern - a man who was closer to the surface than most of us:p. Those who knew him will be aware that his lack of altitude was a matter of great personal sensitivity.

When I was working for IAL at one of their UK bases, a colleague who had been hankering for an overseas posting for ages was finally summoned to see the Short One at Southall.
The day before the interview, said chap's wife had to rush off to attend to her ill mother, so he had to take his 9 year old daughter with him.

Upon arrival, Graham insisted that the daughter could join them in his office, he even lent her one of his colouring books and she was as good as gold throughout the the interview.
At the conclusion of the meeting, the daughter very politely thanked Graham for letting her stay in his office with Daddy in a manner which could only come out of the mouths of babes:
"thank you very much Mr Altern , I've had a lovely time...... there is just one thing...... you are little aren't you...."

Cue much gathering of coats and embarassed mumblings from Daddy.

(He did get the job by the way:p).

2nd Dec 2010, 11:51
Oh dear.... It was noticeable in "The Ministry" that several who hit the "big time" were vertically challenged too!!

Never met Barry Plimmer, but know the name. George Dunford was The Man when I joined; he interviewed me for the job so I owe him. Then there was Eddie Palmer in one of the offices...

God, it's amazing how many on here had connections with IAL..

Tower Ranger
3rd Dec 2010, 00:31
First met Graeme back in bailbrook and then on a few occasions both there and Southall over the years, maybe he just helped me get into IAL as he was taller than me, although he didn't like it that he never beat me at pool ! haha!

3rd Dec 2010, 12:01
I did my initial course at Southall in 1967, with Noel Howes. Worked with Graeme Altern and I suspect HD, in Tripoli (HLLI pre Ghaddafi). Also there at the time Al Greathurst, Bill Bartlett, Matt McVicars, Tony Hollins, Bob Allison, Ian Monkhouse and Tony Edwards. Ring any bells?

On the beach
3rd Dec 2010, 14:11
My "interview" for my first job with IAL was with Al Greathurst. Shortest interview I've ever had. Nice chap. Same goes for all the others that were IAL. A great family feel to the whole operation.

IAL used to occupy both 6 (?) storey blocks at Southall and had a staff of a couple of hundred or so. Next time I worked for them in their new guise of SercoIAL there were 6 or 7 people running the worldwide operation from a single floor of one of the blocks. How times change.

3rd Dec 2010, 20:26
Don't know about the others, but I am sure that Ian Monkhouse went on to join the CAA SRG as an examiner and then do other ATS Investigation stuff with them.

Another name to conjur with: Al Bailey, a brilliant instructor who, during his days off from Bailbrook Asylum, went flying as a F.O with DanAir.
He then went on to join SRG as well.
On my approach course he turned up to do the CAA bit.
Sitting in the exam room for the writtens we were all told we could start, only to find that he'd slipped in photo's of each of us on the group piss up from a few days back.
A great bloke.

3rd Dec 2010, 20:55
Al Bailey was overseeing the Met exam on our App course in the classroom next to the car park. It was blowing and gale outside and a tree fell over missing all the cars but one. It was Al's CAA peugeot estate.:\
The weekends i stayed at the college to study ,would always be the same weekend that the Norweigans had a toga party .:O Funny old thing.

4th Dec 2010, 01:14
Bailbrook was for sure a good place to be:)
A lot of fun memories from that place.
Remember I once dressed as a munk during a costume party did go into the old man sitting in the reception with his hearing aid (building with a lot of "Old ghost stories") and order a taxi.
Next day the poor man did resign.....out of fear :}

Also remember when we got blamed...after a kind of wet Norwegian party...that we had destroyed the fundation in the cafeteria building. They did go through the whole school next day and did among other things find a huge crack down the wall in the small room by cafeteria :ooh: Luckely someone had filmed that wall early in the evening with the crack there :p

One not so good memory was one of the beers they did serve in the sosial club....Indian Summer....really warm and pale beer :eek:

The instructors were great..however not allways updated to what happened to ATC after the 50s;) Still remember getting told... " Speedcontrol is no substitute for good vectoring":}

Our course had a trip back there some years ago after 10 years in the job. We did manage to meet up with our course manager Bob/Rob Pegg and some of the pilots as well. Was a fun time:)

4th Dec 2010, 13:12
<<Ian Monkhouse >>

I worked with Ian overseas after he left the Navy. On return to UK he was at Glasgow before SRG. He is now semi-retired (possibly fully now) and living on the south coast.

9th Dec 2010, 16:14
First time on here but have to reply to this and previous thread!
Yes I am alive and very well and fully retired. Met an ex College Instructor at a "do" today who said I was on PPRrune so an update. After 8 years RN joined IAL I have fond memories of Bailbrook as an Examiner and Inspector.IAL's courses at Southall were terrific circa 1967-8 next door to Viking House full of BA trainee hostesses if I remember correctly. Posted to Doha and Tripoli with (LL Director I suspect). Then Libyan revolution "Spaggetti workers,grave diggers and ATC staff to report for duty immediately " (Tripoli radio announcement ) so left and did Glasgow, Scatcc, CATC, SRG, retire then part time Swanwick training section. Some of the names in this thread - happy memories. Happy Christmas

9th Dec 2010, 16:17
Xmod... Happy Crimble, I. Take care.

Brendan M

9th Dec 2010, 17:43
Xmod; I was present at Glasgow one day when a certain person in his Ford Capri crossed the taxiway without seeing the taxying Chipmunk. I also remember your fridge full of tins of 'heavy'.

tuskegee airman
11th Dec 2010, 16:00
I did the Procedural Aerodrome/Appch course at Bailbrook during the Spring of 1983, resided in the Shaftsbury hotel during the time. Was taught by Larry Lawrence (?), and Jack Sowertsby (sp) who always regaled us with his exploits with his "..flat chested, near sighted widow girlfriend." I believe both had served during the war, Larry as a pilot and Jack as a nav. The rest of the staff was a tall chap who taught Met and Tels named Richard, and the course director Alan (cant recall their surnames). Anyone know what might have become of these gents?

11th Dec 2010, 21:47
I believe that both Jack and Larry have popped off the planet.
Would that be Richard Shaw who did the Met and Tel's?
Alan, sorry, can't help you.

tuskegee airman
11th Dec 2010, 22:38
Sorry to hear about Larry and Jack, they were already retirees when I met them - fine gentlemen.
Richard Shaw was the fellow's name indeed. Thanks Niknak.

12th Dec 2010, 20:55
Chevvron - re your post #16, I remember it well; t'was my course (21) and Mgt were not impressed with those large-scale resignations. Most of the guys involved claimed it was because they could not afford to live near LATCC. Many ended up in the Mid-East but several later came back to UK.

14th Dec 2010, 16:42
I loved Bailbrook (jailbrook as we knew it)...food was good sometimes....then other times it looked like grilled sparrow!!!
I popped by on a recent visit to Bath to see it in all its glory as a hotel/conference centre!
Funny how we can't remember much about the radar theory lectures but sure remember the Norwegians sunbathing topless on the grass! Good excuse for study!!! And what about their washing days when they congregated in the corridor playing poker whilst ALL their clothes were being washed!!!!:O

5th Jan 2011, 01:33
Twas my course too...

Never regretted leaving, travelled the globe with IAL and others, including time at Bailbrook.

Can remember drinking in an Irish pub in Southall while at the IAL school there.

2nd Sep 2012, 16:22
Yes Richard used to be a full time met man but became an ATCO and is now working in the tower at Guernsey.

2nd Sep 2012, 22:01
haha, Jailbrook College :) did my ab initio course back in 1994 :)

food was ALWAYS terrible :)




Andy Mayes
3rd Sep 2012, 08:54
Ahhh, Chris Rundle. The Southampton Radar ATCO during the famous BAC 1-11 incident.

British Airways Flight 5390 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Airways_Flight_5390)

Jay Doubleyou
5th Sep 2012, 13:06
Those of us who are old enough can remember the "school" (pre-collage!) superintendent the Venerable R.F. Bulstrode, giving us the first ATC rule we were taught, "The Yellow Cups have no sugar"!

Atcham Tower
5th Sep 2012, 13:41
Mr Bulstrode never told my course that. A pity because it's an an excellent idea. I did learn later about standard NATO coffee. It appears from a Russian colleague that standard Warsaw Pact coffee was much the same!

2nd Jan 2013, 21:18
Hi, It is interesting seeing all the comments about IAL/Bailbrook as I have heard so much over the years from my dad, ex IAL, and his friends. Not sure if some of you were talking about Graham Duffin, ex IAL, who was based in Bahrein for some time as well? Married to Lynne? Sadly, if it is the same Graham, he passed away some years ago but Lynne is alive and well in the UK. Bob Allison, last I heard, is in South Africa. We have a website for expats and have hundreds of ex IAL staffers as members and hundreds of photos that a lot of you ex staffers may recognise. And maybe you can put some names to faces for us on some of the photos! We also have a large database of ex IAL and where they are now if anyone is interested. Message me or email me direct at [email protected]<hidden>

10th Jan 2013, 01:20
Bob Allison is in South Africa, or was until fairly recently. I do have an email address for him, I think, if you would like to contact him.

16th Jan 2013, 17:03
Wow! Can't believe this thread I started is still going :) Must have been a special place!


Somewhere In Time
16th Jan 2013, 22:35
Special place indeed! I learned that my liver capacity was higher than my brain capacity.

4th Jul 2016, 20:36
I was the first Genera Manager-Principal of Bailbrook College.
Bailbrook House was purchased by International Aeradio Ltd (IAL)
a subsidiary of British Airways in 1976/7and opened as a trainng facility
(The college was formally opened by Norman (now Lord) Tebbit when Minister for Civil Aviation)
for IAL and BA staff and overseas organisations.. Initially it provided training in radio engineering and meteorology. ATC training was moved in from Kidlington Airport, Oxford.Bailbrook College was the only private school
authourised by CAA to award ATC licences in the UK
English language training for foreign students was added later.
2,000,000 GBP was spent on refurbishment and a 120-bed dormitory and
recreation block was added.

The house was bult in 1790 by a surgeon employed in HM Overseas Colonial Service in Jamaica with an illegal appropriation of funds The building started life as a psychiatric nursing home with rich patients placed by their families
living upstairs with paupers chained in the cellars.
The college made a profit of 150,000 GBP in the third year of operation.
I left in 1981.

Squadron Leader Roy Handley RAF Ret'd

5th Jul 2016, 05:05
"paupers chained in the cellars"

As an Instructor I remember the cellars, some simulators were down there. I seem to remember I was a pauper too.

I think there were chains but time distorts the memories.....

Eric T Cartman
5th Jul 2016, 08:46
I did a few boards @<hidden> Bailbrook as a field member, around 1990 iirc, but then a new IAL bean counter decided that he wasn't going to pay my expenses & the CAA for an IAL ATCO to examine IAL staff on IAL premises so that was the end of that
Instructors I recall:
Mike Perry, who'd been my Chief Officer at Glasgow in the late 70's
Eric Wood, who'd been head Inspector @<hidden> Edinburgh & who had done my validation on Ninian Central in 1980
Martin Thomas, who'd been my 2nd SATCO on the Ninian
Dave Graves, the atc book author, who'd been what is now called an OJTI on my watch when I was an ATCA @<hidden> EGLL 1970-72
Dave Schofield, ex Manchester, who I knew from my time @<hidden> Liverpool ( can't remember when he started @<hidden> Bailbrook though)
It turned out to be quite a reunion for me - happy days :-)

5th Jul 2016, 11:14
I was the first General Manager-Principal of Bailbrook College - appointed in 1977.

Bailbrook House was purchased by International Aeradio Ltd (IAL) in1976/7
and after 2,000,000 GBP refurbishment commenced training with the provision of courses for IAL & BA staff and overseas organisations in avionics, meteorology and ATC ,with the movement of IAL ATC training from Kidlington Airport, Oxford. The college was formally opened by Norman (now Lord) Tebbitt - then Minister for Civil Aviation.
The college was the only private sector establishment authorised by CAA to issue ATC licenses.
English Language training was also introduced later. A 120-bed dormitory and
recreation area (bar!) was added. The college moved into a 150,000 GBP profit in 1980.
Bailbrook House was built in 1790 by a surgeon employed in HM Overseas Colonial Service with an illegal appropriation of funds. It started life as a psychiatric nursing home. Rich patients, placed by families, lived upstairs with paupers chained in its cellars.
I left in 1981.

Squadron Leader Roy Handley RAF Ret'd
(Ex-55th Cranwell)

Tower Ranger
5th Jul 2016, 12:44
Happy days at Bailbrook, I was there as part of the first CAA Area Course in 1990. Mike, Eric, Martin and the two Dave's were all there then. I was fortunate enough to get back there regularly after joining IAL/ Serco Ial/ Serco BT/ Serco Aviation Services/ Serco International and every other name they came up with in the 90's.

My last visit was as a Hotel Guest last year which was a rather surreal experience.

5th Jul 2016, 14:57
Tony Jakes resigned from NATS at Farnborough to become an Area instructor at Bailbrook.

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