Fascinating pictures reveal how this popular Sheffield retail park was once a huge military airfield

These now and then pictures of Norton in Sheffield show part of the city’s flying history in the early days of the Royal Flying Corps.

Friday, 24th December 2021, 9:54 am

The 1919 picture shows aircraft on the No 2 (Northern) Aircraft Repair Depot at RFC Greenhill – the RFC was the forerunner to the Royal Air Force. The site is now part of St James Retail Park.

The 1995 book Norton in Wartime by Norton History Group says the depot was part of Coal Aston Aerodrome. It was neither at Coal Aston nor an aerodrome, as planes were only briefly operational from there.

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A Sopwith One-and-a-half-Strutter in the foreground and an Avro 504 at No 2 Northern Aircraft Repair Depot, RAF Coal Aston in 1919. This area in now part of the St James Retail Park

Norton in Wartime says: “The Coal Aston site eventually covered a wide area from Jordanthorpe House in the east to the present Greenhill Avenue in the west and from Little Norton in the north to the fields well down Dyche Lane towards Coal Aston in the south.”

There were three camps housing personnel, different depots and the original landing ground. German prisoners of war also worked there.

St James Retail Park at Meadowhead, Sheffield, which stands on part of the old military airfield called RFC/RAF Greenhill or Coal Aston