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Bristol, Lulsgate Airport History

A Memory of Bristol

After the war, on April 14th 1946, flying training ceased, and Lulsgate Bottom was abandoned by the RAF in October. The airfield was used by Bristol Gliding Club during the next ten years, but the accommodation became a refugee camp for Poles, whose children went to Catholic schools in Bristol.
In 1948 and 1949 motor race meetings were organised by the Bristol Motor Cycle and Light Car Club using a circuit of about 2 miles round the runways and taxiways, but owing to "difficulties" in getting permission to use it again,the club moved to another airfield which was to become known as the Castle Combe racetrack.
Lulsgate was sold to Bristol Corporation in 1955 for £55,000 and work began on airport terminal facilities. The gliding club moved to Nympsfield, and Bristol (Lulsgate) Airport was opened in 1957 by the Duchess of Kent. In its first year of operation 33,000 passengers were carried. The Bristol and Wessex Aeroplane Club moved to Lulsgate, together with the Whitchurch airline operations.
Work was begun to lengthen the main runway to the west to a total of about 7500 feet, and this was completed in 1963. Only basic omni-directional radio beacons were available as navigation aids, but a range of charter and scheduled services was operated using jet aircraft, notably the BAC 1-11s of Court Line.
They also included e.g. Boeing 707s which transported communications satellites built at Filton for the Hughes Company in the USA, and on one occasion another 707 which had been impounded against debts left at dead of night on three engines and went straight to "somewhere in Africa", smashing an aerial on its (shallow!) climb-out. It was not until 1984 that a basic instrument landing system was installed with DME and localizer aerials.
In 1987 Bristol City Council, then reduced to the status of a District within the County of Avon, bowed to pressure from the Thatcher government and set up a company called Bristol Airport PLC with slightly under £20 million share capital.

A memory shared by Paul Townsend , on Jul 13th, 2013.

Comments & feedback

Mon Feb 6th 2017, at 9:01 pm

jojonesbleadon commented:

A wee correction to Paul's account of the departing Boeing 707 - it didn't leave at dead of night but during the afternoon! I drove past on my way home just afterwards and airport staff were out picking up pieces of boundary fence, hedgerow and landing light gantry (not aerial). From the marks on the ground and holes in the hedge I think it must have been barely airborne when it crossed the A38. According to the Bristol Evening Post the crew had turned up with a satchel full of cash to pay for the fuel uptake.

Ken Jones

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