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Sevenoaks pointer to Biggin

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Sevenoaks pointer to Biggin

Old 24th Aug 2019, 14:44
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Sevenoaks pointer to Biggin

While I was doing my ATC flying scholarship during 1969 at Biggin Hill, I seem to remember in the vicinity of Sevenoaks there was a large painted arrow that indicated the direction back to the airfield.
It's a long time ago now and I can't find any trace of it on Google maps, so house building or the M25 might have erased it, but does anyone know just where it used to be?
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Old 30th Aug 2019, 14:46
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Originally Posted by delta96
While I was doing my ATC flying scholarship during 1969 at Biggin Hill, I seem to remember in the vicinity of Sevenoaks there was a large painted arrow that indicated the direction back to the airfield.
It's a long time ago now and I can't find any trace of it on Google maps, so house building or the M25 might have erased it, but does anyone know just where it used to be?
>>> Sorry but I have never heard of any such arrow near 7oaks during my flying time at Biggin 1970/ 82. Not to say others with long memories may be able to help. There were of course the cluster of lakes there that served as a useful navigational aid. Also there was and still is the large white cross on the slope of a hill at nearby Shoreham village.

Last edited by pasir; 30th Aug 2019 at 14:51. Reason: remembered a further relative addtion
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Old 31st Aug 2019, 09:33
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I have a very vague memory (wait, there's more....) of some sort of large white arrow, maybe cut into a chalk hillside, pointing towards Croydon Airport, probably in the 1920s, not that I was around then to need it.
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Old 31st Aug 2019, 10:01
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Buster, I've heard of that too.

I would have thought Biggin ought to be clearly visible from 1000' over Sevenoaks in reasonable vis.
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Old 31st Aug 2019, 12:26
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I used to live in Northolt London when I was a Kid, and remember seeing NO marked on a gasometer, when passing on the tube.
.
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Old 31st Aug 2019, 13:25
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Originally Posted by scifi
I used to live in Northolt London when I was a Kid, and remember seeing NO marked on a gasometer, when passing on the tube


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Old 1st Sep 2019, 08:33
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There is a small BoB Museum in that village....
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Old 1st Sep 2019, 19:55
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Gasometer Bishops Waltham.
4 of us set out one evening to paint an arrow and HA on one of Hamble’s rejoining points.
A few days later with my instructor in the Baron..Pat Courtney (he who left a hurribomber wingtip on a tree stump somewhere out east)..asked why the arrow was pointing the wrong way?
Twas how I learnt that the top rotates with the change in volume in said structure.
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Old 20th Sep 2019, 13:29
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There is a large white arrow clearly visible on Google Earth just to the east of Skipness village (by the graveyard) at the top end of the Mull of Kintyre. I believe this is a hangover from WW11 and was something to do with a nearby weapons range. In addition, I think there is another one further south, not so easily seen.

Just found the second arrow. It’s just south of the village of Crossaig, in scrubby land east of the B842.

Last edited by Audax; 20th Sep 2019 at 13:49.
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Old 21st Sep 2019, 11:20
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Originally Posted by Audax
There is a large white arrow clearly visible on Google Earth just to the east of Skipness village (by the graveyard) at the top end of the Mull of Kintyre. I believe this is a hangover from WW11 and was something to do with a nearby weapons range. In addition, I think there is another one further south, not so easily seen.

Just found the second arrow. Itís just south of the village of Crossaig, in scrubby land east of the B842.
Here's the first. Arrow
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Old 21st Sep 2019, 11:35
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In the 1920s, to aid the Croydon to Paris air service, the railway stations on the Sevenoaks to Dover line apparently had their name painted in large letters on the roof tiles of the station buildings, readily visible from the height then flown at. Presumably removed by 1939.
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Old 21st Sep 2019, 11:37
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Originally Posted by WHBM
In the 1920s, to aid the Croydon to Paris air service, the railway stations on the Sevenoaks to Dover line apparently had their name painted in large letters on the roof tiles of the station buildings, readily visible from the height then flown at. Presumably removed by 1939.
Ah, when IFR really did stand for "I Fly Railways"
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Old 22nd Sep 2019, 17:43
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Airfield names

Long after Croydon closed (1959) the rotating beam was kept going for a considerable time.
Also Banstead railway staion (to the west ) had its name boldly emblazoned for many years and apparently was a reporting point in the early radio days.
I have seen large white crosses marked in unusual places but some of them were 'range indicators' to ensure correct direction of aircraf for firing/dropping.
In the case of a marker for BH then Croydon would be in the same direction or very close.
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Old 23rd Sep 2019, 12:57
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Originally Posted by scifi
I used to live in Northolt London when I was a Kid, and remember seeing NO marked on a gasometer, when passing on the tube.
.
Ah! The good old "Gasholder Landing System!" I visited Northolt Tower a couple of times while working at LATCC in 1966/7. On one visit, Heathrow were using Rw 23L (long since redeveloped as a taxiway) and it was quite exciting how the final approach track crossed that of Northolt Rw 26 on short(ish!) final for both! Around that time, a PanAm 707 crew landed at Northolt by mistake! Since the two gasholders were in the same position relative to the two runways, the arrows were painted on as a backstop against crews taking the wrong visual cues. Fight Magazine had a humorous comment by Uncle Roger about how NO was YES if you were looking for Northolt, but NO if you wanted Heathrow!
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Old 23rd Sep 2019, 18:52
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I hope i do not drift to far off course of this thread, but I hope somebody can point me in the right direction?
Photo below is from a book of 1931 "In de schroefwind" of KLM pilot A. Viruly.
It is a photo of two gasholders in Leeuwarden (now the Bleekhof in Leeuwarden)
The arrows point roughly North while the Leeuwarden air base is approximately 4 km in NW direction.
Did they have already have a flight pattern in place?



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Old 24th Sep 2019, 09:00
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Originally Posted by Self loading bear
I hope i do not drift to far off course of this thread, but I hope somebody can point me in the right direction?
Photo below is from a book of 1931 "In de schroefwind" of KLM pilot A. Viruly.
It is a photo of two gasholders in Leeuwarden (now the Bleekhof in Leeuwarden)
The arrows point roughly North while the Leeuwarden air base is approximately 4 km in NW direction.
Did they have already have a flight pattern in place?
It's strange to actually paint the arrow on top of the gas holders as they spiral round as they go up and down as the gas fills/empties. If you look closely at the mechanism you will see this.

The ones for London/Northolt are a design that has a static casing on the outside of the gasholder.
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Old 24th Sep 2019, 09:09
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Lighthouses as naviagtional aids

As a slight aside to the discussion but still relevant and I expect of some interest, in the 1920's, Aerial Lighthouses, such as this one in Tatsfield, were installed to guide aircraft around the country. Similar systems also existed in other countries.
There is a restored example of just such a beacon at North Weald.
A wealth of information about the ones in the South East of England is here...

Aerial Lighthouses


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Old 24th Sep 2019, 10:14
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Originally Posted by WHBM
It's strange to actually paint the arrow on top of the gas holders as they spiral round as they go up and down as the gas fills/empties. If you look closely at the mechanism you will see this.

The ones for London/Northolt are a design that has a static casing on the outside of the gasholder.
You're getting mixed up between 'gasometers' and 'gasholders'.
The former rotate and rise up and down, the height being used to measure how much 'reserve' gas it holds whereas the latter is just a static tank, although there must be a means of showing how much gas it is holding.
It was a 'gasometer' near (I think) St Annes radar station which used to cause confusion to radar controllers at the 'old' Preston ATCC radar unit because as it filled up and rose up, it would reflect radar echos to make it seem the aircraft were in a different position from where they actually were; when it was empty or nearly so, this reflection wouldn't happen.
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Old 25th Sep 2019, 08:44
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Originally Posted by Self loading bear
Photo below is from a book of 1931 "In de schroefwind" of KLM pilot A. Viruly.
It is a photo of two gasholders in Leeuwarden (now the Bleekhof in Leeuwarden)
The arrows point roughly North while the Leeuwarden air base is approximately 4 km in NW direction.
Did they have already have a flight pattern in place?
The history of Leeuwarden Air Base does go back to 1931, but by then there was nothing more than a plan to build an airfield near the town. This was finally approved in 1936, with a grass field bought and first used by 1937. The German occupation caused it to be enlarged into a military airfield and this sparked the development into the military base it is now.

So to go back to your photo, as there was no airfield at the town in 1931, I would suspect these markings to be nothing more than a reminder of the name of the town and a rough idea of where North is.

Edit, see here: https://www.agl-fullstop.nl/index.php/vlb-leeuwarden
Another addition from a 1919 newspaper:

In short, even before WWI there were plans to mark gasholders with two-letter codes to enable airmen to orient themselves. This article from 1919 lists the ones as suggested for towns in Friesland.

Last edited by Jhieminga; 25th Sep 2019 at 08:51. Reason: Added link, and added image
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Old 25th Sep 2019, 13:50
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I recall us sitting in class at Harrow County School watching the 707 going into Northolt (more interesting than Bigham's biology lesson). We all thought it a little odd, but did not at the time realise how odd, Also went to see the Annie on the egg packing factory in S Ruislip
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