RAF Padgate

Some information from Wikipedia

During World War II, Padgate had a small RAF base which provided basic training for air force recruits. It opened in April 1939. This type of base was described as a recruitment training camp. This RAF station will be well-remembered by thousands of young men who were selected for RAF National Service, and on this site received their first taste of military discipline, ill-fitting uniforms and a severe haircut.

The site of the RAF base is now a housing estate, bordering Cinnamon Brow. In the centre of Padgate, next to the train line, is a large area of land and playing fields known as Bennett’s Recreation Ground or simply Bennett’s Rec. A rifle range and part of the running track are still visible on the site. It is the home of the Woolston Rovers rugby league side. Vulcan Close, Valiant Close, Anson Close, Harrier Road, Viscount Road, Blenheim Close, Lancaster Close and Wellington Close are just some of the street names in the

Blackbrook area of the town which are named after aeroplanes used in the war. Padgate Community High School is on this land.

The university campus in nearby Fearnhead, affiliated to the University of Chester, was used as a camp for Canadian servicemen (called Canada Hall) during the Second World War, before becoming a teacher training college in 1946. This was used to house some of the servicemen stationed at Burtonwood. Around 4,000 personnel were stationed at RAF Padgate during its lifetime.

Famous Boxer Freddie Mills was stationed at RAF Padgate. He was world light heavyweight boxing champion between 1948 and 1950. Also did Hughie Green, the man in charge of TV talent show Opportunity Knocks and Bob Monkhouse (comedian, presenter, actor and cartoonist), who also presented Opportunity Knocks, but in the 1990s.

I can’t remember where this plan originated. I believe it to be from Warrington Worldwide Forum but can’t see it on there now to ask for permission to use it or to give credit. Please get in touch so I can put that right. Of course, I will remove it if not permissible.

Reader Memories

David Cherry from Australia writes of his childhood memories of RAF Padgate.

I have been taking a trip down memory lane. I was born in Latchford (at home – my grandparents home actually) in 1955. My family emigrated to Australia in 1969, and I have never been back. My parents first home was in Padgate (where I went to primary school) and then we moved to Paddington.

I can remember as a child (11 to 13 year old I think) going to a disused military base (army) [RAF Padgate] to play with my brother and friend. If I remember right we used to go up Padgate Lane, passing Padgate Primary School (my old school), to reach the ‘base’. The base was definitely not used, mostly derelict, with every window smashed, I think. I remember there was a huge blackberry bush growing in the grounds and we pigged out on blackberries from it.

Also from Australia, Cyril writes:

In September 1943, at the age of 18, my parents waved me “goodbye” from Irlam Station on my short journey to RAF Padgate, having volunteered for aircrew operations.

I can remember very little of the RAF Padgate itself just outside Warrington, as it was purely an aircrew receiving centre where we were interviewed for suitability for aircrew position, i.e. be it PNB (pilot, navigator, or bomb aimer) or wireless operator/air gunner, or purely an air gunner.

After arriving at Bank Quay Station in Warrington, I found myself with my little suitcase gathering up with a crowd of young men, also with their sole belongings, and being hustled into awaiting transport, then in no time at all, marching through the camp gates.

After several postings in the UK and Middle East, I was finally posted back to RAF Burtonwood, which had then been returned from U.S.A. control. I spent my last couple of months of RAF service in the accounts section there before de-mobilised back into Civvy St.

If you have memories or your own photos of RAF Padgate that you would like to share then please get in touch.

Further Reading

Many recruits were sent there for basic training before being posted around the world. (Click here)

For photos of RAF Padgate, click here.

Another link gives information about the units based at RAF Padgate.