Help to retrace Sheffield suburb Norton’s high-flying history

Thanks to National Lottery players, a new project is set to launch in the Norton and Meadowhead area, organised by the Landscape Heritage Research Foundation.

By Chris Percy
Thursday, 16 May, 2019, 16:47
Saluting the flag, lowered for the last time at RAF Norton in 1965.

The project, called From RFC Airfield to City Suburb – 100 Years of History at Meadowhead & Norton, Sheffield, and funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is set to follow on from the successful Norton’s Flying Legacy project of 2016/17.

The project will be wide-ranging and develops some of the themes begun in our first project. It also extends the timeline to cover the period from the outbreak of World War Two into the 21st century.

An aerial view of RAF Norton in the mid-1950.

This project is running over the next 15 months and will delve further into the history of the suburb from the formation of the Wold War One Aeroplane Repair Depot and proposed development of civil aviation and then explore how the former airfield site affected the area’s development into a thriving suburb of Sheffield.

It will follow the military theme from World War One, through World War Two and into the Cold War, with specialist speakers and field visits across the area.

During the project we will set out to record any artefacts of the built military environment either former sites or some that still exist.

A series of workshops will be held throughout the project, each covering a specific theme which will help volunteers along their way, piecing together a fascinating local history.

Air Vice-Marshall WE Theak, Air Officer Commanding 90 Group Inspection, RAF Norton, in 1953

At the same time, the development and growth of the area will be explored by visits to the local archives, local field visits and visits to other collections.

The project will also undertake a series of oral history interviews which will hopefully add important local first-hand experiences to the project.

It is intended to pull together a 100-year history of a major city suburb and how it has developed and changed over that time.

Any project such as this always needs help!

Sign up to our daily newsletter

Visitors to a Battle of Britain Day at RAF Norton in the 1950s

We will shortly be advertising for a project officer to assist us in carrying out the project.

Once we have appointed someone, we will be holding a launch event in early summer to introduce and open the project where you will have an opportunity to meet the team, see selected items from the previous project and learn more about this exciting new venture!

The project is led by Professor Ian Rotherham of Sheffield Hallam University with Chris Percy of the Landscape Heritage Research Foundation, and the recently-appointed project officer is local historian Christine Handley. 

Ian Rotherham said: “This is an amazing project and public interest in the first phase of the research was overwhelming.

A Meteor, left, and Vampire at RAF Norton in 1955.

“Since then, we have been busy with fresh information that surfaced and with local people coming forwards with stories, memories and memorabilia.

“This Heritage Fund project now gives us chance to take the research to the next level.” 

If anyone is interested in joining in as a volunteer – no matter how much or little time you can spare – please let us know by emailing us on Chriscp2@hallamec.plus.com or checking on www.ukeconet.org.

We’ll be publicising the launch event and creating a new webpage in the next few weeks.

 

Leading aircraft man Ted Caton (right) and two of his national service pals at RAF Norton in 1953: the motorbike is a Norton.