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Carnaby (Bridlington)

Also known as: Carnaby Industrial Estate / Carnaby Raceway / RAF Bridlington / RAF Carnaby
County: East Riding of Yorkshire
Current Status: Industry
Date: 26 March 1944 - 1969
Current Use: Disused
Used By: RAF

Carnaby was one of three special airfields created during World War Two as an Emergency Landing Ground for aircraft, especially heavy bombers.  They quickly landed if they were either damaged through enemy action, suffered technical malfunctions or had to divert for weather reasons. Key to this idea was a huge runway in terms of both length and breadth: at 9,000 feet (not including grass extensions at either end) it was half as long again as a standard bomber runway, while the width of 750 feet was five times the norm.  Apart from the runway, there were few other facilities available but this did not detract from the airfield’s significance; the runway was also equipped with the FIDO fog-clearing device.

Over the next year and a half, after first opening in March 1944, Carnaby enabled more than 1,500 aircraft to land safely, thereby saving thousands of lives in the process. The airfield was soon quickly run down but this was far from the end of its life.   For a while in immediate peacetime the place, then known officially instead in RAF circles as Bridlington, became a Relief Landing Ground for various training units from the late 1940s.  No 203 Advanced Flying School went a stage further by being temporarily based there in the summer of 1950 owing to runway resurfacing at Driffield.

Later on in 1959 the airfield switched roles again to become one of Britain’s Thor intermediate range ballistic missile bases and served as home to No 150 Squadron.  Somewhat unusually, these nuclear devices were joined the following year by defensive Bloodhound surface-to-air missiles of No 247 Squadron but the decreasing immediate global threat resulted in both of these units disbanding by the end of 1963. 

By 1969 Carnaby had closed altogether, yet this was still not the end for this remarkable place as two local authorities purchased the site in 1972 for it to become an industrial estate. Motor sport lasted for a number of years too but the former activity gradually predominated to the extent that company premises cover most of the runway today; a distinctive dispersal loop on the south-west side has since disappeared. Even so, when driving along what is now Lancaster Road, it is still relatively easy to imagine the sheer scale of this place in its flying days.

The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have significant connections with the airfield (as at 01/09/2011):

  • 7 Vision Ltd
  • A Helm Fish Merchants Ltd
  • Advanced Scaffolding
  • Auto 66 Club
  • Bee Health Ltd
  • Bernard Bell
  • Bob Stabler & Sons
  • Boogie Woogies Bridlington Ltd
  • Bridlington Antique Pine & Furniture Restoration
  • Carnaby Caravans
  • Bryan Fisk
  • Burlington
  • Carnaby Caravans
  • Carnaby Parish Council
  • Chocolate & Pink
  • City Electrical Factors Ltd
  • Classic Drinks Ltd
  • Cobus Coach Refurbishment Ltd
  • Corniche Fine Arts Ltd
  • Dawn Carnaby
  • Direct Steel Services
  • East Riding Training Services
  • Ebbfix Ltd
  • Elliott Modular Buildings
  • Farmhouse Potato Bakers Ltd
  • Framecraft Services
  • Greenstik
  • Idacom Steel Buildings Ltd
  • Ideal Building Systems Ltd
  • Indian Palace
  • Investair Ltd
  • John Bull (Confectioners) Ltd
  • Lancaster Garage
  • Medusa Granite Ltd 
  • Melza Ltd
  • M-Tech Composite Ltd
  • Oyston Motor Services
  • Pop Art Products
  • Program Management Resources
  • Quality Catering Co
  • Radical Shock Ltd
  • Rawhide Accessories
  • Salvage Centre
  • Ship To Shore
  • Sorted
  • Specialist Textile Processing
  • St Quintins Creamery
  • T. Quality Ltd
  • The Garage
  • The Real Candy Co Ltd
  • Tiger Bulk Systems Ltd
  • Wilkinson Vehicle Solutions

Main unit(s) present:

  • No 8 FTS
  • No 150 Sqn
  • No 203 AFS
  • No 207 AFS
  • No 247 Sqn

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