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Inside Stow Maries – England’s last intact WWI aerodrome

a phot of an old reception building with water tower in the background

Airside at Stow Maries First World War Aerodrome. Courtesy HLF / Stow Maries Aerodrome

Images of the historic buildings at Stow Maries First World War Aerodrome before their repair and during the war

Only ten of the original 250 aerodromes built during the First World War have survived: Stow Maries in Purleigh near Maldon, Essex is the only one that has been left almost untouched.

Over 24 original Grade II listed Royal Flying Corp operation buildings remain on the site, including the original officers’ mess, pilots’ ready room, blacksmiths, ambulance station and morgue and more.

Built in 1916, Stow Maries was a direct response to the increasing attacks from Germany first Zeppelin airships and later Gotha fixed-wing bombers. It became an integral part of the UK’s Home Front defence and home to the newly-formed 37 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps.

This corp of elite pilots, led by the 19 year old Captain Ridley, are less well known than the Spitfire pilots of the Second World War but they played a vital role throughout the war, particularly in the German bomber campaign of 1917 which some refer to as the First Battle of Britain.

a phot of a dilapidated room wth fireplace and roof beams visible

Officers Mess at Stow Maries First World War Aerodrome awaiting refurbishment in 2013. Courtesy HLF / Stow Maries Aerodrome

a photo of a small anterrom with odl shelves and ash window

Officers Mess stores at Stow Maries First World War Aerodrome. Courtesy HLF / Stow Maries Aerodrome

a photo of a building without a greater portion of its roof

Stow Maries Night Landing and MG store awaiting refurbishment. Courtesy HLF / Stow Maries

a phot of an old semi derelict building seen from across a field

The Officer’s Mess. Courtesy HLF / Stow Maries Aerodrome

a photo of a cluster of brick built buildings seen from across a field

A general view of the aerodrome. Courtesy HLF/ Stow Maries Aerodrome

a phot of a First World War biplane lined up on grass

Vintage First World War aircraft have returned to Stow Maries Aerodrome. Courtesy HLF / Stow Maries Aerodrome

A grant from the National Heritage Memorial Fund in 2013 came just in time for commemorations of the centenary of the First World War, and not only secured the long-term future of the site but also allowed for an on-going restoration project to return the aerodrome back to its former glory.

Permanent hangers are now being rebuilt and original First World War aircraft have gone on display. An apprenticeship and volunteer scheme is at the centre of the project in order to keep heritage aviation skills alive.

Jeremy Lucas, Stow Maries Trust Chairman is promising “a sustained commemoration at Stow Maries of the extraordinary human exploits and stories.

“This was the first war that was fought here at home through air-raids. By opening up this site, the public and particularly young people can gain a greater understanding of how as a nation we overcame it.”

Archive pictures of Stow Maries in the First World War

photo of an old biplane with military mechanic in front

F1333 with mechanic at Stow Maries in 1917

a black and white photo of six RFC pilots with arms interlinked in front of hangars

B Flight Aug’18 – McFadden, Hollington, Coote, Stokes, Briggs and Murray.

a black and white photo of RFC pilots in front of a plane

Pilots Cooke, Hollington, Murray, Coote, Godfrey, Stokes and Shephard at Stow Maries in 1917.

a black and white photo of a pilot leaning next to his biplane

Second Lt Murray & a Sopwith Camel at Stow Maries in 1917

Find out more about visiting or help out by becoming a volunteer at Stowe Maries by visiting the website at www.stowemaries.org.uk

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venue

Stow Maries WW1 Aerodrome

Nr Maldon, Essex

Stow Maries Aerodrome is an functioning Airfield with most of its Great War brick buildings still intact and is currently being restored to its 1918 condition. For up to date information visit.

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