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History of Samlesbury Airfield

Salmesbury Airfield was built on farm land in the late thirties as a joint civil airport, the result of collaboration between the towns of Blackburn and Preston. However prior to the war starting the airfield was requisitioned by the government for the assembly of Handley Page Hampden's by English Electric, an initial hanger was built for this purpose, during December 1939 the first Hampden components arrived and the first aircraft was flight tested during February 1940 and a total of 770 Hampden's were built at Salmesbury.

In May 1940 an additional hanger was constructed and the runway was extended in preparation for the construction of the Handley Page Halifax, the first one of which flew in August 1941, a total of 2,145 Halifax’s were built at Salmesbury.

Salmesbury was also used by No 9 Group Communications flight with its mix of Hurricanes. Master and Oxfords, one of the pilots of this flight during March to July 1941 was Squadron Leader Denys E. Gillam AFC, DSO, DFC. The HQ of No 9 Group was only 6 miles away at Barton Hall.

After the war English Electric built DeHaviland Vampires at Salmesbury and also later manufactured components for the Canberra, Jaguar and Tornado. Refurbishment of Canberra’s was also undertaken. Salmesbury is currently involved in the manufacture of components for the Eurofighter.

A Hampden being rolled out at Salmesbury

A Hampden being rolled out at Salmesbury