Famous old plane hangar near Ellesmere Port fights for life
Volunteers are reaching for the skies in a bid to save an historic World War One aircraft hangar.
The grade two star listed ‘Belfast’ hangar at Hooton Park is thought to need repairs costing ï¿½615,000 to save it from collapse and bring it back into use.
Currently on English Heritage’s ‘at risk’ register the hangar has already attracted pledges of ï¿½270,000.
Trustees say restoring the hangar would enable the Hooton Park Trust to open the site to wide range of users and uses.
A £400,000 refit has already been completed of a second hangar at the airfield, assuring the trust of long term income.
The hangar has twin bays and the trustees say they hope to tackle one bay at a time, mainly for financial reasons.
The first bay suffered from a failure of the roof in the1990s when it was used by Vauxhall’s leading to the closure of the building but not its repair.
“The passing years took their toll and there is a real risk of a collapse,” the trustees fear.
Wooden trusses are said to be ‘badly damaged and in urgent need of repair’ but it is thought this part of the work could be carried out without the need to dismantle the roof.
It is planned to strip the existing roof covering and redundant systems from the trusses, repair the damaged roof trusses and supporting brick work and replace the roof covering and rainwater goods to make a weather proof building.
Contractors would carry out specialist work while Hooton Park volunteers would contribute time in restoring parts such as gutters and downspouts and in painting.
“Over the years the Hooton Park Trust has established a network of contractors and experts many who have given freely of time and expertise to help with the work of saving the hangars,” say the trust.
“We expect to call on all this wealth of experience in this project as it is by far the most challenging element of the restoration that has been undertaken at Hooton Park.
English Heritage says the buildings at Hooton Park as a group ‘are unique in the North West of England and Europe representing a significant period of development in aviation.’
The site was developed as an airfield in 1917. In 1930 it became Liverpool Airport and in 1936 610 (County of Chester ) Squadron was formed there.
After further service in World War Two, including repairs to thousands of aircraft, the airfield closed in 1957 and was bought by Vauxhall’s in 1962.