Barton(Beds) Aerodrome

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10 years 11 months

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Over the last 10 or more years the Barton Industrial estate has continuously expanded and been modernized, so much so that little or no evidence of its former life remains. After asking around in the village (which I was born in and now live again) it seems most villagers are unaware it even existed let alone some of the important links it has to aviation and the 1930's.... Over the last month or so I have spent many hours following up information about the site but as always the more leads I get the more I seem to be chasing my tail so any help would be greatly appreciated, and help make available in the village library a documented history to remember all that took place. Can anyone enlighten me as what would be 'normal' for an airfield of this size as grass runway?, would there have been more than one or would be an 'organized free for all'?... could any still active aerodromes in this area be looked at as a guide like Old Warden, Denham, White Waltham etc etc From the records the airfield was granted a license on 1st January 1937 and the Bedford School of Flying opened just 14 days later under the management of Capt' Marendaz and Dorothy Summers, has anyone any information on any of these people or the flying school? The airfield was used as a turning point for the 1938 Kings Cup, there must be loads of photographs taken but so far I can only locate just one... please help! 9th June 1938 Amy Johnson was guest of honor at the flying schools dance, again no photographs or print seems to have survived? The photographic information indicates Luton Aircraft was on the site before the flying school but no physical evidence, any ideas? The ATA took over the airfield as part of No'5 ferrypool, I have requested info from the ATA archive but as yet noting has turned can anyone shed any light on the ATA and especially that of Lutons’ all women No'5 pool and the use they made of Barton. thanks Jenna
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Profile picture for user GrahamSimons

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Jenna....Barton is one of those fields that we have on our list to produce in our Airfield Focus series once we can find an author! A lot of the story we know so far is of mysterious fires, intrigue, underhand behavior and larger-than-life characters! All we have on the field at present (which seems to have gone under a number of names) is as follows: Barton-in-the-Clay/Barton-in-Clay/Barton-le-Clay Bedfordshire: TL070316 The newly-formed Luton Aircraft Ltd set up its factory at Barton-in-the-Clay in November 1935. with manufacturing facilities in a 14400 sq ft (1338 sq m) hangar. The adjacent airfield allowed a maximum landing run of approximately 1650 feet (500m). After a fire in 1936. Luton Aircraft moved to Gerrards Cross and Barton was taken over by International Aircraft & Engineering Ltd.. which in turn relinquished control on 1 January 1938 to Bedford School of Flying, who had the benefit of a licence for private use. Club facilities included a clubhouse and restaurant, and aircraft maintenance was available. Barton-in-the-Clay was used intermittently by RAF aircraft, one of which. Hawker Hart K3051 of 1 Flying Training School, tipped up on landing on 17 October 1938 but was repaired on site. Following this precedent, the airfield was later requisitioned by the RAF. The shape of the industrial site is still very much that of the old airfield site - especially if you compare our rough map with Google Earth and use Faldo Road as the locator! As for 'Captain Marendaz', Donald Marendaz was a Swiss, who was involved with car design and racing, was also involved with flying, being a founder member of the Midland Aero Club, Kings Cup Race entrant and 'designer' of the Marendaz II G-AFZX and III Monoplane G-AFGG. Marendaz Aircraft Ltd was based at Barton for a while - I could go on for a while here if needed! Dorothy O Summers was the Secretary of International Aircraft and Engineering Ltd and later a Board Member.

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Thanks guys for both the replies and welcome.... yep the village was originally called 'Barton In The Clay' but was meddled with by the parish council back in the 1960's to become 'Barton-Le-Clay'... no idea why! Newforest the Ariel shot is the right location as GrahamSimons map shows and what’s left on the ground.... Thanks Graham for the info it backs up nicely some of my info and you have a few dates I didn’t have. Marendaz seems to be a great old character, a real 1920's Arthur Daily with numerous court appearances for dangerous driving and the odd dodgy business deal!!. I managed to track down his family and this info I am sure is fairly spot on now. 1897- 17th January: Donald Marcus Kelway Marendaz- born Upper Court Farm, Margam, Neath, Glamorgan, Wales 1916- DMK Marendaz joins the Royal Flying Corps 1918- DMK Marendaz (Royal Flying Corps) serving as a pilot in France until invalided out with the rank of lieutenant 1918- DMK Marendaz marries Dorothy Robinet Evans, Pembroke Dock, Pembroke, Wales. 1940- DMK Marendaz jailed on security charges but he was released after a few days post links to the British Union of Fascists 1965- October: DMK Marendaz appears in court in Johannesburg, charged with "theft, fraud and contravening the company and insolvency acts" in connection with Marendaz Tractors Ltd. No further details 1972- Marendaz returns to England from South Africa 1988- DMK Marendaz dies at the age of 91. Asterby Hall, Asterby, Lincolnshire, England Tracking back his life I also ran across his companies and employers.. 1918- ex RAF joins Alvis to launch the company.. But gets sacked so goes to Emscote and then joins up with Seelhart to for Marseel in the early 20's 1926- DMK Marendaz Ltd (Marendaz Special cars) start production in Brixton Road, London SW9, England 1932- Marendaz Special cars finish production in Brixton Road, London SW9, England and move to Maidenhead, Berkshire, England until 1936 estimated production run of 30-50 cars. Marendaz Special Cars Ltd is formed and moves to ‘Cornwallis Works’ Maidenhead where GWK and Burney cars had been built previously using Marendaz parts. 1937- Marendaz Special Cars Ltd ceases production at Cornwallis works, with an approx run of 80 vehicles. 1937- 30th December: BEDFORD SCHOOL OF FLYING LTD.—Private company, registered December 1. Capital, £1,000 in 10,000 shares of 2s. each. Objects : To teach aerial navigation in all i ts forms ; to establish and maintain a club, etc. The permanent directors are :—Dorothy O. Summers, 26, Tilehurst St., Hitchin, secretary ; Leslie C. Hilditch, " Scylla," Pirton Road, Hitchin, flying instructor. Dorothy Summers was with him most his life and moved from company to company (and it appears house to house!) with him living at Brayfield house, Bray and then The Manor, Little Tring before Hitchin.. I as have found reference that that they had two children (Donald and Ann Summers) and even though DMK was devoiced in '75 whilst running Marandaz Tractors in South Africa they never married. I have no information the whereabouts of Don or Ann but hope to locate them. It’s also been noted that DMK is 'linked' to a lady by the name of Cartwright? DMK himself ...."Pilot with the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War "at a time when the life of a pilot was 50 hours and 900 machines a month were being lost. Attached to 35 Squadron in the Battle of Cambrai of 1917 he served with the Cavalry, on patrol operations. On the first day of the battle, he was the only pilot to take off from the aerodrome of Mons-en-Chausée. He was able to observe that a bridge at Masnieres was down, and was able to relay a message to this effect, saving the Cavalry from slaughter. Sixty years later he was the guest of the French people at the Anniversary of the Battle of Cambrai...." Marendaz cars were well regarded so much so that Sir Sterling moss's father and mother both drove cars for him in competition, Aileen Moss at Brooklands alongside Dorothy Summers! DMK was also a race driver with credits to his name at La Mans and many UK tracks.

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Here is the Capt flying his Trainer at Barton. The aeroplane was given to Halton ATC at the outbreak of war. I realise, Jenna, that it was you that posted this on the Pictures of England website. ;)
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Profile picture for user JDK

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Having had a happy couple of hours playing in the online Flight archive, I popped the good Captain's name in; quite a few hits. http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/index.html I'd also talk to Beds CC. Having worked for (another) UK county museum, they may well have resources not obvious, beyond what's in the local libraries. If you can put together an exhibition...
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Can anyone enlighten me as what would be 'normal' for an airfield of this size as grass runway?, would there have been more than one or would be an 'organized free for all'?...
In the days before nosewheel aircraft became commonplace, taildraggers, particularly those using skids rather than wheels, were much more prone to problems with crosswinds. This being the case there were frequently no 'runways' or defined strips as such, just a big field with the aircraft taking off and landing into wind. Somewhere between 600 and 1200 yards in any direction would be usual

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10 years 11 months

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Not many pics of the Marendaz Specials left but this one I love.. http://www.raidxtreme.eu/webpics/airfield/dmk1.jpg sadly do not know the location ( possibly Brooklands’) but Aileen Moss behind the wheel of a Marandaz Special probably in 1937. http://www.raidxtreme.eu/webpics/airfield/dmk2.jpg Barton Aerodrome 1938, taken by the spotter plane flying the course of the 1938 Kings Cup air race. you can see the Bedford School of Flying 'buildings' and apron at the bottom and the triple hangers and control tower(on the right end) used by Luton Aircraft Ltd. http://www.raidxtreme.eu/webpics/airfield/dmk4.jpg the test flight of the Marendaz trainer built by Luton Aircraft on the airfield, the location can still be seen with the outline of the 'Sharpenhoe Clappers' distinctly in the background. http://www.raidxtreme.eu/webpics/airfield/map1.jpg From walking the dog I drew up this map, the runways is total guess as no picture exist of the site in the 40's. The control tower was demolished about 10 years ago to make a carpark.. but ironically my mum worked in it in the 80's when it was being used by a lab so I know the layout. I have asked the Lab if they have any pictures but nothing yet. The Hangers next to the tower still sand ( you can see them easily on the google air pics) they are part of a longer run which was refurbished last year. The Flying school buildings (and ATA) have been flattened to make way for the parcel distribution center.. I used to play in these as a kid!... the pill box’s/ammo stores are still here but in poor state, one to the rear of the site has been robbed out and is now a fire pool. panoram

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Dorothy O Summers was the Secretary of International Aircraft and Engineering Ltd and later a Board Member.
Cant find a great deal about this company, maybe a trip to the local/national records office may be needed! i did find a link that also listed them... GENERAL AIRPORTS CORPORATION, LTD.—Capital £100. To carry on the manufacture of motor and aeroplane engines. Directors: S. Shaw and Dorothy 0. Summers. Registered office: The Airport, Barton, Beds ( and this "complaint by General Airports Corporation Ltd. at land at Eaton Bray being required for an aerodrome and at the Committee's actions regarding the Company's .." which interesting as i get the feeling they ended buying Eaton Bray?) X2BA Barton in the Clay -- N 51 58 09 W 00 27 11 1935... seams to be the official doodar :) plus this has come from the Brooklands archive... March 14 1936 Second March Short Handicap first: Dorothy Summers, Marendaz Special 89.03mph March Long Handicap first: AC Kelway, Bugatti 90.49mph (AC Kelway is listed at a pilot at the flying school!)

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10 years 11 months

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Having had a happy couple of hours playing in the online Flight archive, I popped the good Captain's name in; quite a few hits. http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/index.html I'd also talk to Beds CC. Having worked for (another) UK county museum, they may well have resources not obvious, beyond what's in the local libraries. If you can put together an exhibition...
the Fight Archive has been an invaluable source... I currently have over 100 PDFs to go finish going through that list info on the site... so much so I had to stop as it was giving me headaches reading it all :confused: The village library has asked for a copy of everything to keep as a record, I also have been posting it in a few places to make sure it survives on the net as much as possible and gets up dated (many thanks to everyone thats helped). I have also set out a 'geocache' that will again get both older villagers and the kids a bit more interested and save what little is left. In time if I can nail down enough info about the site and its later war years then maybe a plaque on the hanger wall (in the car park that was the control tower) may be fitting. :)

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In the days before nosewheel aircraft became commonplace, taildraggers, particularly those using skids rather than wheels, were much more prone to problems with crosswinds. This being the case there were frequently no 'runways' or defined strips as such, just a big field with the aircraft taking off and landing into wind. Somewhere between 600 and 1200 yards in any direction would be usual
arrrgh that muck's up my little map!...darn you :D my other half tried to convince me along these lines but being the pig head I am I wouldn’t have it, Thanks Moggy for putting me right i will see if these lengths fit with field boundaries and revise the map.
Profile picture for user JDK

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the Fight Archive has been an invaluable source... I currently have over 100 PDFs to go finish going through that list info on the site... so much so I had to stop as it was giving me headaches reading it all :confused:
Great! You'll have event dates - you can therefore get related news item copies from The Aeroplane with CG Grey's more loony pronouncements if you are lucky. A decent large library should have complete Aeroplane bound - or an aviation museum. Errr - maybe Old Warden?...
The village library has asked for a copy of everything to keep as a record
That's good, but I suggest you go to CC history resource level, not just the local library. It may be possible to get funding to do more, at that level, not in a local library though. HTH.

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10 years 11 months

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Great! You'll have event dates - you can therefore get related news item copies from The Aeroplane with CG Grey's more loony pronouncements if you are lucky. A decent large library should have complete Aeroplane bound - or an aviation museum. Errr - maybe Old Warden?.. HTH.
sorry to sound so 'blonde'..but The Airoplane?.. a magazine? who is CG Grey? my background is in automotive engineering (over 20 years in motorsport) so all this airplane stuff is a bit confusing :eek::eek: I posted to the Luton Minor thread too and noticed that there was few comments towards Old Warden, I asume that this was from SVAS members on this forum, if so any guys from there can you help as to whats in your library!.. I may be tempted to join and even lend a hand (extreamly well qualified technician!) ;) never realised the CC sponsored this sort of research.. lol as an impoverished self-(un)employed person thats the sort of info I like... phone book, phone.... and crow bar at the ready. :)

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any information on this company would be much appreciated too... MARENDAZ-BOWMAN TRANSMISSIONS, LTD. Private company. Registered August 14 Capital £200 in 1,000 5 per cent cumulative preference and 1,000 ordinary shares of 2s. each. Objects: To carry on the business of manufacturers, letters on hire, purchasers and repairers of motor cars, motor and aeroplane engines, motor cycles, motor bodies, sidecars, airships, etc. The directors are Donald M. K. Marendaz (permanent governing director), The Manor House, Little Tring. Herts (director of Bedford School of Flying, Ltd.. and General Airports Corporation, Ltd.); Hugh Bowman,5, Beaconsfield Road, St. Albans, Herts, instrument maker and engineer. Secretary: Dorothy O. Summers. Registered office: The Manor House, Little Tring. Herts.
Profile picture for user JDK

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sorry to sound so 'blonde'..but The Airoplane?.. a magazine? who is CG Grey?
No problem! In the inter-war period the UK had two competing magazines - Flight and The Aeroplane. CG Grey was the editor of The Aeroplane, and he was an opinionated loony, IMHO, who never let facts get in the way of a good old rant. Hence his editorials are entertaining, if somewhat unhinged. The Aeroplane stopped publishing ( but note there is a new (1972 - to date) magazine on the news-stands that I write for called Aeroplane, which competes with Flypast, our hosts here. The modern Aeroplane has not got a link to the old one anymore.) The original Aeroplane is not going to be digitised like Flight. I'd assume the nearest copies of the period Aeroplanes will be in the library at Old Warden. Give Shuttleworth a call and ask for access.
never realised the CC sponsored this sort of research.
They don't. But there are grants that can be got, with their support, and match funded Heritage Lottery cash if someone savvy gets to the idea. If you can get to someone in the CC who is responsible for heritage / history, AND you can get them to fire-up with the idea (two B I G asks) then it's possible to get help and funding through them from other bodies. There are other routes, local history societies (often full of insane people playing with Norman documents - it seems to be the base state...) or more academic routes. There are also opportunities through what may still be 'life-long learning' initiatives. I'm five years out of date, and they can't make me go back... Your motorsport experience will be a good parellel as you've no doubt found. Remember (as you've seen) much of the real history (of motorsport and light aviation) involved fast moving people who ensure the full story never hit the notebooks. ;) Cheers,
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I spoke to Bill Fisher of Chipmunk fame, in the 1980,s at Duxford during my Russavia days. He helped to remove the hanger from Barton airfield. but i can't remeber what they did with it. Dave

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10 years 11 months

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yesterday visited Luton Library, the aviation section is about half a dozen books.. place is being renovated so access to most of the local history section is not permitted. The county council website also has not a single listing for any books by either C H Latimer-Needham or Arthur Ord-Hume in any of the counties libraries so that’s a dead end. :dev2: The county does have an archeological unit at Bedford so I have emailed them to see if they can help. Yesterday I also got an email back the last residents of the control tower before it was demolished; the company is going to ask its staff if any have any pictures or memories of the buildings..... they also requested a copy of the info so far so that it can be passed out at the Christmas party in the next few weeks to jog any memories. From information that somebody posted here I am fairly sure that the fire at Luton Aircraft’s Hanger that destroyed the first Luton Buzzard (G-ADYX) was at Baton(Beds) and not Phoenix or Denham as was led to believe. A search through the Flight archive sheds no light either way but the CAA records for G-ADYX clearly state it was built at Barton(Beds) and registered there on 9-12-35 which is before the move. The Mk2 Buzzard which was a rebuild post fire (and move off the airfield by Luton Aircraft) is never shown at Barton(Beds)….

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http://www.raidxtreme.com/webpics/airfield/Buzzard.jpg Image from Flight. http://www.raidxtreme.com/webpics/airfield/mk1buzzard.jpg Image again from Flight, this one shows the 'concrete garages' I remember as kid and guess Dave has mentioned being removed.. these were used by the Bedford Flying School as clubhouse etc.. http://www.raidxtreme.com/webpics/airfield/mk2buzzard.jpg Image from Flight, this is the rebuilt Buzzard not sure as to were the picture was taken but it does not match up with any other picture of Bartons apron... any one recognise it? (Denham??) CAA registration for G-ADYX http://www.raidxtreme.com/webpics/airfield/marendaz_mk2.jpg Image from Fligh, its listed as the 'Marendaz Mono' but doesnt tie up with other info according to the CAA the Marendaz MKIII was G_AFGG? Flight also says this aircraft was never finished but it looks finished in this pic? and thats not Barton(Beds)... CAA regfile has Marendaz as the sole owner?
Profile picture for user JDK

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yesterday visited Luton Library, the aviation section is about half a dozen books.. place is being renovated so access to most of the local history section is not permitted. The county council website also has not a single listing for any books by either C H Latimer-Needham or Arthur Ord-Hume in any of the counties libraries so that’s a dead end. :dev2:
No, it's not - did you talk to a librarian? You can get what you want (the vast majority of books) by inter library loan. It's not quick, but it is efficient. The library system will be a good tool, but it's just that; if you want more, you need to go higher.
The county does have an archeological unit at Bedford so I have emailed them to see if they can help.
Crikey. If you want help, doorstep them; get an appointment, make 'em interested. Don't take the easiest route to them dismissing you! A quick Google search throws up a lot of interesting resources. This looks a lot more relevant than the archaeological unit. The links alone are worth a look. (BLARS is the type of department who are going to be your best stating point.) http://bedfordshirehistory.blogspot.com/ You are talking industrial heritage, social history etc etc. Learn the buzzwords and key items to get access and support, if you want to go that route... Just some advice.
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hmmm.... no listing of anything by Arthur Ord-Hume?..... that's stange, cos we have published NINE different titles by him (I know R4 very well) and I know they are all listed on PubWeb which bookshops and the Library services use via Gardners or Bertrams wholesalers! Sounds like typical 'we dont want to order anything specialist - if it's not Harry Potter, Posh or Becks or Jamie 'fowlmouth' Oliver, forget it'.... see my rant on my blog!
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yesterday visited Luton Library, the aviation section is about half a dozen books.. place is being renovated so access to most of the local history section is not permitted. The county council website also has not a single listing for any books by either C H Latimer-Needham or Arthur Ord-Hume in any of the counties libraries so that’s a dead end. :dev2:
How about the British Library in London?? ...they do try to have at least one copy of every published book AFAIK !! Might mean you have to visit them to read...not far from Kings Cross Station. regards baz