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Also known as: RAF Silloth / Silloth Industrial Estate / Silloth Sunday Market
County: Cumbria
Current Status: Farmland / Leisure activity / Industry
Date: 5 June 1939 - 31 December 1960
Current Use: Disused
Used By: RAF

As the possibility of war approached, the urgent need for Aircraft Storage Units further north in Britain saw Silloth open in June 1939 for immediate use by No 22 Maintenance Unit, after the possession by agreement of 460 acres of land was obtained in April 1938.  Long-term benefits arose as a new wharf had to be built at the town’s docks in order to handle the huge amounts of construction materials required for this airfield and also Kirkbride, with which Silloth shared a broadly similar career.
Despite its obvious role as a place for aircraft storage and preparation, with a vast variety of aircraft designs passing through for many years afterwards, in World War Two Silloth was also deemed a most important Coastal Command training base with the increasing threat from German U-boats.  An early resident was renamed as No 1 (Coastal) Operational Training Unit in April 1940 and employed many examples of the Lockheed Hudson, which to this day still remains the best known aircraft associated with Silloth, not least as the adjacent part of the Solway Firth became known as ‘Hudson Bay’ because so many Hudsons had to ditch there due to the overall rigours of wartime duties.  Wellingtons of No 6 OTU subsequently appeared from Thornaby, switching bases with its predecessor in March 1943 and continuing with general reconnaissance instruction – notably including use of the Leigh Light illumination device to search for U-boats - for Coastal Command crews until leaving for Kinloss in July 1945.
For the next 15 years Silloth saw No 22 MU hold sway at military level, still carrying on in its original role, although peacetime resulted in far greater numbers of aircraft now being scrapped as well as stored. However, both the MU and Silloth closed on the last day of 1960, though aviation activity did not end at this time as steel company-related civil aircraft continued to land at this now private unlicensed site until into the 1970s.
Yet this was not the end of this airfield by any means as it still remains tremendously prominent, both physically and in people's minds, mainly as an industrial estate which arose once the land was sold during the early 1960s soon after the airfield’s closure. Another popular feature is a Sunday market, held on Silloth’s south side which attracts thousands of stallholders and visitors.

The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have significant connections with the airfield (as at 01/07/2013):

  • Carrs Coaches
  • D.A. Harrison
  • Enkev (UK) Ltd
  • Hagans
  • Holme Low Parish Council
  • Lawsons Haulage Ltd
  • Markley Transport Ltd
  • Norwest Mechanical Services
  • St Paul's Church, Causewayhead 
  • Silloth Library
  • Silloth-on-Solway Town Council
  • Silloth War Graves
  • Solway Coast Discovery Centre
  • Tanglewood Caravan Park
  • United Utilities

Notable Past Associated Organisations:

  • Solway Autograss Club

Main unit(s) present:

  • No 1 (Coastal) OTU
  • No 5 FP
  • No 6 (Coastal) OTU
  • No 22 MU
  • No 631 Sqn
  • No 1353 AAC Flight
  • BSC
  • Coastal Command Landplane Pilots' Pool
  • Cumberland Aviation Services
  • Cumberland Flying Club
  • Cunliffe-Owen Aircraft Ltd
  • Manx Airlines
  • Scottish Aviation Ltd
  • United Steel Companies
  • West Cumberland Air Services

Photographs from the unveiling of the ABCT marker at Silloth on 27 November 2011:





Silloth aerial 40's poss note large number of aircraft on field  maybe post war scrappers not confirming date..jpg

An aerial view of Silloth, possibly in the 1940s. Courtesy of Gordon Akitt.

Silloth Hudson  or Ventura 25_07_42.jpg

A Lockheed Hudson or Ventura at Silloth, 25th July 1942. Courtesy of Gordon Akitt.

Post war aerial view.jpg

Post-war aerial view of Silloth. Courtesy of Gordon Akitt.

Sil tech site 1960's or 70's.jpg

Silloth technical site in the 1960s or 70s. Courtesy of Gordon Akitt.

Micaply hangar.jpg

Type D Aircraft Storage Shed, 1969. Courtesy of Gordon Akitt.

civ staff silloth.jpg

A group of mostly civilian staff at RAF Silloth. Courtesy of Gordon Akitt.


A Douglas Dakota at Silloth, many of which were stored there. Courtesy of Gordon Akitt.

silloth 2.jpg

Silloth is now used for industry and agriculture. Courtesy of Gordon Akitt.

Silloth blister.jpg

A Blister hangar, now used as a feed store. Courtesy of Gordon Akitt.

Main runway.jpg

Main runway, 2012. Courtesy of Gordon Akitt.

A history of Silloth Airfield, courtesy of Silloth Airfield Project (Silloth Tourism Action Group)

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