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TOPIC: Hardwick Park

Hardwick Park 29 Oct 2008 22:32 #1

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37 SLG Hardwick Park

Every so often, SWMBO says something like "It's a lovely day, lets go for a country walk!" Good idea Cherub! I reply, OS map at the ready, "But" (Jab of finger at this point) "I want no airfields, no mouldy concrete, no crashes, no bombs, no death, no destruction, no severed limbs and NO POISON GAS! GEDDIT?
If you get something similar, and can get to J29 of the M!, then this place might suit you both. A National Trust property that was a landing ground. You can pay just for a garden visit, rather than the dearer house tour if you wish. The runway was as per the line, trees at both ends and the "hourglass" were removed at the time. As far as I can ascertain, the only aircraft ever to use it were a pair of Defiants, one painted green/brown, the other black, and they were only there as a protection flight for what was a substantial parachute training camp on the hillside between the house and (now) the motorway. Other than once being shown a tie-down block stored in a barn, there is now no aeronautical evidence. She won't suspect a thing!
If you can't face the clotted cream etc then the background arrow points to the southern portal of Rowthorne railway tunnel, now back-filled, once a 27MU bomb store but abandoned before the wars end as impracticable and unneccesary underground. Easy car parking and free!

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Last Edit: by stevie.

Hardwick Park 05 Dec 2009 19:52 #2

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Is there a memorial plaque on the house, to the parachute camp, or did I dream that?

NJR

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"When you stop remembering you start forgetting"

Hardwick Park 06 Dec 2009 11:57 #3

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There is a memorial to the paratrooper camp, mounted on a wall at the edge of the visitors car park. I can't put my hand to an image quickly though, I last photographed it well before buying a digital camera and it's buried in the usual holidays/weddings/xmas stuff.

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Last Edit: by stevie. Reason: Removed broken link

Hardwick Park 06 Dec 2009 16:27 #4

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Alternatively here . It's on the Debyshire/Nottinghamshire border, the house being in Derbys.

Chris

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"We either stand down or blow up - which do you want!"
Last Edit: by stevie.

Hardwick Park 20 Sep 2012 21:38 #5

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A browse on 28MU's activities (Harpur Hill) yesterday revealed that the personnel of the subsite at Rowthorne were probably based at Hardwick. It was referred to as RAF Hardwick (which could cause confusion with the USAAF base in Norfolk).

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Plan A is always more effective when the problem you are working on understands that Plan B will involve the use of dynamite :twisted:.

Hardwick Park 05 Aug 2015 17:09 #6

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Hi

I am new to this forum. I was born and live not too close to Hardwick and it's only the last 8 months or so I've became interested in the camp and airfield. Knew about an army camp for years but didn't know it had anything to do with the Paras and knew nothing about an airfield. This obviously goes to show the National Trust's approach to Hardwick's involvement in WW2, basically bulldoze it from their history books. There is no mention of any on their website, in the hall itself though shown on a leaflet and one of the map boards as army camp. Camp was there from 1941 to 1959 according to books, used after 1946 by Pole and Hungarian refugees until everything was removed. I've read in a local book that locals wanted the church saving but no chance. There are signs though; red bricks, bits of concrete, parts of fencing, broken pottery and spent 303 shells of you know where to look. But as you drive up the winding road to the hall, thousands of visitors wouldn't have had a clue what was there.
The airfield Hardwick Park Grid Ref SK465645, also known as: No 37 SLG / RAF Hardwick Park had a grass runway of approx. 1,000 yards long running almost N/S, plus 16 acres of storage/parking, which was enough for 65 aircraft. It saw its first aircraft Boulton Paul Defiants arrive on 29 September 1941. Other types recorded as stored here include Miles M.14 Magister, De Havilland Dominie and Bristol Blenheim. However, the ground suffered from water-logging over the winter period and the approach was hazardous due to the large trees surrounding the runway so, with effect from 14 September 1943, the RAF gave the SLG up to the Airborne Forces.
As with the camp there is no sign of where it was as buildings have gone and trees removed from the 'wine glass' have grown back. But, if you know where to look things crop up.


This is from a book about Hardwick Hall (an official RAF photo it says). I've found nothing on the net until seeing this photo in a another thread and a better version.


This is from Britian from above website dated 1952. Shows clearly where the lime trees have been replanted around the 'wine glass'.


As mentioned previously this is the commemoration stone, a photo I took at the annual Parachute Regiment memorial day in May this year. It actually stands in the old orchard car park which is closed to the public but you can view it if you ask! Again, thousands of unbeknowing public don't know it's there. And the memorial day isn't on the website because it might attract terrorists I have been told!

Thing is I think the National Trust and Hardwick Hall should be ashamed of their treatment of 20,000 men who went through the selection process at the Airborne Forces Depot. To me it's a story that they have not wanted to tell as a permanent fixture. I have been told the new handbook will include more and there will be more physical recognition of where the camp was. Fifty years too late!

Hope this bit is useful and hoping to find out more. Any more info from people on here would be appreciated.

Glen

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Last Edit: by stevie.

Hardwick Park 05 Aug 2015 18:23 #7

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Yay! My (the vertical) photo has come back to haunt me.

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Hardwick Park 06 Aug 2015 20:26 #8

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Hi Ossington

The photo I got from the book hasn't got the balloon jump circle so I was chuffed to see it. I'd been told the balloon was set up near Blingsby Gate which is the main entrance at the top of the camp. The circle is next to Cross Wood which I've read in a local book had German dummies used for tactical training.
Can I ask where you got your photo from? It is more defined than mine. I've been using a photo from Google earth to match the trees as they weren't allowed to clear them when the camp was built.
I'd love to see pics of the camp and identify the buildings.

Thanks

Glen

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Hardwick Park 18 Jan 2016 17:37 #9

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Hi

Just recently borrowed a folder from Hardwick Park Visitors Centre that was put together in 2004 for the 60th anniversary of D-Day. It included a photocopy of the airfield that I have scanned and posted. I've had to mess about with the image to enhance it.



The original had a label which said, 'No.1,Airfields of the RAF in the United Kingdom Hardwick No. 37, 31st August 1941. You can just see the remnants of the 'Wine Glass' trees that were removed. The Airborne camp can be seen behind the Hall.

The folder also included this article from The Ashfield Historian Vol VII No 1, Feb 1999:
HARDWICK HALL AIRFIELD, World War II, Cecil Hill, our Tibshelf historian writes of an airfield not listed in the usual references.

In the hot dry summer of 1940 the age old tranquillity of Hardwick hall was suddenly destroyed by the arrival in the park of workmen and equipment to construct a training camp for the newly formed airborne forces.
To the rear of the Hall, on a large flattish area of grassland, a grass runway was planned, or perhaps not planned but found only suitable for the use of small aircraft as the land available was not long enough for anything bigger, certainly not for troop carrying aircraft.
Even to construct this short runway an avenue of trees, called because of its shape, the Wine Glass, had to be cut down.
After their initial training and drops from the tower, which stood on that area of land called Blingsbys, and from the balloon which was moored nearby, the troops were taken to Ringway Aerodrome, Manchester, to emplane for their aircraft drops over Hardwick Park. What a wonderful sight it was to see them under their different coloured parachutes floating down to the ground. The problem with dropping troops at Hardwick was that a lot of them landed in the ponds or in the trees. The grass runway at the back of the Hall was made level and smooth by using two huge agricultural ploughing steam engines, one at each end of the runway and instead of pulling a plough backwards and forwards between them on their endless cables they trundled a very heavy roller to and fro instead.
The only planes that I saw on this runway were the Boulton Paul Defiant fighters. This fighter had a disastrous deficiency in that it had no guns in the wings to fire forward, the turret gunner could only fire to the rear or sideways which left the aircraft helpless to a frontal attack by German fighters. A deficiency the German fighters soon used to their advantage. I think that these Defiants were probably stationed at Hardwick to defend the camp against any German daylight bomber raids. There was I believe no provision on the airfield for night flying. These planes were parked under the trees on Car Hill by the side of the road that runs down from the now car park to the Lodge Gate.
Evelyn, Dowager Duchess; mentioned in her comments about Hardwick Hall that the Airborne Troops were not good neighbours - they blew up the sluice and drained the lake for the fun of catching some fish. They stripped the Orchard of all its fruit and actually squeezed into the room of the housemaid in charge through a narrow window. She complained also about the loss of a great deal of the Wine Glass avenue of limes and of a belt of trees which had been planted a century earlier (not true as they were planted in the 1920s) and then when these trees had gone, the airfield was thought unsuitable for aircraft landings. She would probably mean, as I have said, large aircraft, because a DeHavilland Dragon Rapide biplane often landed there on a Saturday morning and the Defiant fighters must have used it.
The paratroops, the Camp, the Airfield have now all gone, the Wine Glass Avenue has been replaced, but what has gone also is the peace and quiet of the Park around the ponds, it being drowned out by the horrendous roar of the M1 Motorway.
An odd thing about this little saga is that for a long time it has been thought that the camp and the airfield were built in the wrong place; they should have been built at another Hardwick somewhere further north.
There is some anecdotal evidence that Westland Lysanders were occasionally to be seen at Hardwick.

Glen

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Last Edit: by BruceLee230. Reason: Missed out the photo

Hardwick Park 18 Jan 2016 22:41 #10

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Glen,

Hardwick Park was originally 37 SLG and meant for aircraft storage by 27 Maintenance Unit at Shawbury. The Para's and their tendancy to blow stuff up was considered a risk to the aircraft stored there hence it being turned over to the Army wholly. You might find some interesting tidbits in the 27 MU records at the National Archives: discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C4100699

The National Archives has an accident card for Tiger Moth DE-159 crashing at Hardwick Park

BTW just to clarify - from an RAF perspective the landing ground was Hardwick Park whereas it seems the airborne referred to the battle school as Hardwick Hall. That might make a difference when it comes to what archives you search in.

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