|Hall Caine Airport|
|IATA: none – ICAO: none|
|Location||Ramsey, Isle of Man|
Hall Caine Airport was an airfield on the Isle of Man and was located near Ramsey. It was named after the author Sir Thomas Henry Hall Caine CH, KBE by his sons Gordon Hall Caine and Derwent Hall Caine, who were the project initiators. From 1934 to 1937 it handled domestic scheduled passenger flights to English, Scottish and Irish airports. By 1937 it had fallen into disuse, primarily due to its location.
The flat surrounding area made an ideal location for an airfield, and Hall Caine Airport flourished for a brief period before the Second World War. It attracted some attention from Whitehall Securities Ltd, who as owners of United Airways based at Blackpool, wished to commence a scheduled air service to the Isle of Man. Whether they resented paying landing fees to Isle of Man Air Service at Ronaldsway is a matter of conjecture, but by April 1935, they had commenced a service to Hall Caine four times a day, using Spartan Cruisers.
The fact that the Spartan Cruiser was designed with three engines instead of two, was the cornerstone of the company's advertising of their service across the Irish Sea - although they were to later use both De Havilland Dragons and Rapides, which were twin-engined aircraft.Of the four services operated, one originated from Squires Gate, Blackpool and carried on to Crosby-on-Eden, Carlisle, while the other three started from Speke Airport, Liverpool, and came via Blackpool.
In the summer of 1935, United took delivery of an Armstrong Whitworth Argosy from Imperial Airways who had used the type on the Middle East routes from the early 1920s. The aircraft used by United was a Mk 2 version built in 1929. Registered G-AACJ and named City of Manchester, it was powered by three 420 h.p. Armstrong-Siddley Jaguar IV engines, and its steel-tubed fuselage offered commodious accommodation for those days. The aircraft was converted to carry 28 passengers for pleasure flights around Blackpool, but it was also to be a frequent visitor to Hall Caine when traffic demanded. Nothing quite like it had been seen on the Isle of Man up to that time, and it attracted a lot of attention when it circled twice over Douglas before making its first visit to Hall Caine.
Another service was started by Northern Airways Ltd. which, in 1934, had appeared at Ronaldsway. By the end of that year, Northern's owner, Mr George Nicholson, had formed Northern and Scottish Airways Ltd. at Newcastle with a view of developing routes to the Hebrides and the Western Isles. However, on 17 May 1935, N.S.A. commenced a weekly service from Glasgow (Renfrew) Airport to Hall Caine using a De Havilland Dragon. Within six days, Whitehall Securities had stepped in and gained control of all of N.S.A. business, with the result being that the Glasgow service was increased to three times weekly, and by 1 July, it peaked at twice daily.
A daily service was maintained during October and November by which time the Glasgow route had covered 54,000 miles, carrying 1,957 passengers and 19.9 tons of freight.
A mail service was also inaugurated for a brief spell in August and September 1934, by Railway Air Services, and taken over by Blackpool and West Coast Air Services from February to October 1935. From 1 November, United Airways secured the main contract from the Post Office which was then passed on to their subsidiary Northern and Scottish as a result of a round of amalgamations which took place at the end of 1935.
United Airways Ltd was wholly amalgamated with Spartan Airways and Hillman Airways, and the three names were replaced with British Airways Ltd. This company was to join Imperial Airways in 1940 thus forming the British Overseas Airways Corporation.
As the mail service continued, the Post Office insisted that all air mail letters from Douglas and the south of the Island were to be handled at Ronaldsway, while the mail from Ramsey and the north was to be collected at Hall Caine. This meant a connecting flight between the two airports.
In the summer of 1936 Northern and Scottish, now acting for British Airways Ltd., were operating the following routes involving Hall Caine: Glasgow (twice daily by the end of September); Liverpool - Blackpool (two or three flights a day); Belfast and Carlisle (daily). For the winter there was a daily Liverpool - Blackpool - Hall Caine - Belfast - Glasgow service. Spartan Cruisers, Dragons and Rapides were employed with an occasional visit from the Argosy though the latter was becoming increasingly expensive to maintain and was de-registered at the end of 1936.
An article by Mr John Swann in the B.E.A. Magazine (July 1956) vividly recalls a spell of duty during September 1936 at Hall Caine when he was standing in for Mr J.W.S. Spinner, the station Superintendent, who was on leave. The Station at that time had an engineer, Mr D.L. Robertson, and two members of staff on air traffic control duty, Mr A. Kelly and Mr C. Collister.
The northern plain of the Isle of Man has always enjoyed a better weather record than that of the south where Ronaldsway Airport is situated. Because of its coastal location, fog is a particular problem at Ronaldsway with certain wind directions, and mainly affects the airport during the summer months. During the operational life of Hall Caine Airport there was much friendly rivalry between the crews of the airlines flying to the Isle of Man, and opportunities to gain extra revenue were always welcome. When Ronaldsway was "out" due to bad weather, N.S.A. staff were quick to suggest that passengers get a refund and fly with them to Hall Caine which never suffered from fog.
In 1937, Northern and Scottish cancelled all services to Hall Caine with the exception of the Glasgow route. In fact, the name of Northern and Scottish was set to disappear when Whitehall Securities amalgamated all their Scottish interests into Scottish Airways Ltd on 12 August 1937.
After this, Hall Caine was not to be used for scheduled services again.
There were a few private visitors, but after the coming of war in 1939 it was to disappear without trace. The fact that it was 20 miles from the main centre of Douglas was not in its favour and, as the Ramsey Courier of the day sadly observed, "with many airlines trying to make ends meet, there was bound to be contractions of services".
On the other hand, Mr. William Lambden in his work, The Manx Transport Systems makes reference to the fact that the Isle of Man Road Services Ltd. had carried over 10,000 passengers on their special airport route from Hall Caine to Douglas during the 1936-37 period.The airfield was again used, albeit briefly, by a local Gliding club in the 1990s, but they relocated to Andreas airfield.
Accidents and incidentsEdit
- On 16 May 1936, British Airways Spartan Cruiser G-ACYL crashed on landing. The aircraft was operating a scheduled passenger flight from Glasgow (Renfrew) Airport. Despite the loss of a wing in the accident, the aircraft was repaired and returned to service.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 "Andreas Gliding Club - Gliding on the Isle of Man". http://www.manxgliding.org/features/glidinghistory/. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 A. M. Goodwyn (SPRING-SUMMER 1984). "Manx Electric Railway Society - History of Hall Caine Airport". Manx Transport Review No.42. http://www.mers.org.im/hallcaineairport.htm. Retrieved 2008-12-03.
- ↑ Poole 1999, p. 14.
- Poole, Stephen (1999). Rough Landing or Fatal Flight. Douglas: Amulree Publications. ISBN 1-901508-03-X.
- Kniveton, Gordon (1985). Manx Aviation in War and Peace. Douglas: The Manx Experience.
- Description and history on the Manx Electric Railway Society website
|This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia (view authors).|