NEWS: Our next Open Day will be in April 2024. This is to allow The Trust time to expand the facilities and displays for re-opening next year. Keep up to date with the latest news on our
The Hooton Park Hangars site is managed by The Hooton Park Trust (HPT), which was formed in 2000 with the aim of creating a Trust to oversee and manage the restoration of the remaining WW1 hangars on the former RAF airfield at Hooton Park, Cheshire. The long term aim is to provide a multifunctional site, as well as restoring the buildings and the site itself as valuable historic artefacts in their own right. The buildings will then provide the perfect environment for the projects and initiatives that are planned.
Much still remains of the Hooton Park airfield and its buildings. Three original, Belfast-trussed, hangars dominate the landscape, surrounded by the original access roads, taxiways, and numerous outbuildings and offices, all steeped in the colourful history of this one-time Royal Air Force airbase.
Some of the runway also exists. All manner of aircraft types have operated from this aerodrome, for example Austers of the Army Air Training Corps, Supermarine Spitfires of 610 Sqdn, and, during the postwar years, classic jets such as Gloster Meteors, De Havilland Vampires, Venoms and much much more.
There are numerous projects on-going at Hooton Park. Alongside the on-going restoration of the buildings themselves, associated groups and individuals are progressing with their own restoration projects. Tap 'Collection' to read more about our exhibits.
See our display of historic aircraft and other transport exhibits
We have a range of aircraft, cars, commercial vehicles, bicycles and even an old Chester tram for you to see - many in the process of restoration.
Join us at one of our Open Days and get up close to amazing pieces of machinery and learn about the history of the site.
- Look around one of our restored hangars at a variety of aircraft, cars, trucks, bicycles and a tram and learn about the restoration work.
- Join our Guided Tour and see what it was like to be in a bomb shelter during an air raid!
- Relax and treat yourself to a cuppa and a cake in the 1940s style NAAFI - sorry, not 1940s prices!
We also have other exciting events from time to time - war-time tea dances, auctions, specialist talks about the exhibits. Hit 'Like' on our Facebook page to stay updated with all the latest news.
Where are we?
Our address is: The Hangars, Airfield Way, Ellesmere Port, CH65 1BQ, which is the postode to use if you are using a satnav.
Approaching from the WEST along the M53: Exit at J6, merge with traffic coming from your right and, at the roundabout, take the second exit. The Hooton Park Hangars site is 200yds on the left.
Approaching from the EAST along the M53: Exit at J6, cross over the motorway and, at the roundabout, take the second exit. The Hooton Park Hangars site is 200yds on the left.
Visit the 1940's Theme NAAFI Cafe
If you get peckish during your visit - or just need a break - we have a 1940's style NAAFI ('Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes') Tea Room.
We have a variety of drinks for sale - tea, coffee, soft drinks - but we can't do 1940's prices. Sorry!
We also have a selection of cakes to buy - including delicious cupcakes. Just like mum used to make!
To support the restoration of the Hangars we offer room hire and a storage service for caravans and Cherished Vehicles.
Room Hire: We have two meeting rooms available for hire at a modest fee, if you are a small group or club and would like to hold your monthly meeting with us then please get in touch and see if we can help.
Private Tours: If you would like to arrange a private tour for a group or would like to discuss holding your event at this special location then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 0151-327-3565.
Caravan and Cherished Vehicle Storage: We offer high quality secure storage for vehicles of all kinds. This service is open 7 days a week.
The Caravan and Cherished Vehicle Storage opening times are as follows:
- Summer hours (1st March to 30th September): Weekdays and weekends 09.00-17.00
- Winter hours (1st October to end of February): Weekdays and Saturdays 09.00-16.00, Sundays 10.00-16.00
Access: Less than two minutes off M53 Junction 6, the hangars are accessed from Airfield Way located within the curtilage of Vauxhall Motors Ellesmere Port car plant. Hooton Park is superbly located on the UK Motorway network, allowing quick and easy access to North Wales, the Peak and Lake District within 2 hours.
We offer a friendly, personal service and your storage fees contribute to the restoration of this unique historic site.
Vehicles of all sizes can be stored inside the historic aircraft hangars. Whatever you have, we aim to be able to store it. Our rates are very competitive for the quality of space and level of security we offer and all vehicles movements and handling on site are undertaken by our trained staff.
Things to See & Do
We have a wonderful range of aircraft on display and you can learn more about some of them by pointing your smartphone at the QR code alongside.
Our dedicated team of enthusiastic volunteers is also restoring an old tram that used to operate in Chester. Come and see how the work is going and, if you like, ask about getting involved in this historic work.
Our site is home to a number of other historic vehicles, including cars, buses and bicycles. Learn more about each one during your visit by pointing your smartphone at the QR code alongside each one.
During Open Days, at 1pm (times subject to change), you can join a free tour of the site that tells you the history of the hangars - but keep an ear open for the Air Raid siren! But don't worry - we have a shelter where you can take safe refuge (restrictions apply).
Fancy Joining Us as a Volunteer?
Our volunteers are quite simply our lifeblood. Without our army of enthusiastic helpers, we certainly would not be able to maintain the site, and our visitors would miss their valuable contribution bringing the visit to life.
In the current age, our hectic lives often mean it is difficult to commit time to a project like ours. We understand that completely - we have the same problem! However, any time that you can spare will help - even if it is only a couple of hours a month, or even one weekend a year. Every little bit helps.
There are so many different reasons to volunteer and everyone has their own reasons. However, here are some of the main benefits:
- Learning new skills
- Good for your CV
- Making new friends
- Knowing you are making a unique contribution to our work.
How can I help?
Gardening: Hooton Park is a large site and, with the British weather, it needs constant upkeep. If you fancy spending some time helping us keep the grounds tidy, then please get in touch.
Painting: True to the old Armed Forces adage, "if it doesn't move, paint it!" We have lots and LOTS of walls, as you can see from the various photographs on this site. If you like the idea of popping in for a couple of hours on a nice day and giving us a hand, you will be more than welcome.
General Maintenance: As you can imagine, with a site this size, there is always something that needs doing - from oiling squeaky hinges to repairing fences.
In return for volunteering, you will be supplied with all the training and equipment you need and, most importantly, endless cups of tea!
More importantly, you will be helping to preserve our heritage for future generations.
PLUS - you'll get to join us for our annual BBQ!
The History of Hooton Park
Hooton has a long history - nearly 1000 years, in fact. This is its entry in the Doomsday Book:
Original text: Ifd. Ri Ten Hotone. Tochi tenuit. Ibi. I. Hida. 7 11. part. I hide geld. Tra. E. III Car. Ibi. IIII radmans 7 un uitts 7 IIII. Bord cu. II Car. T.R.E. ualb. Xxx. Fot 7 port. V.fotModo. Xvi. Folid.
English Translation: HOOTON. Toki held it; he was a free man. 1 hide paying tax. Land enough for three ploughs. 4 riders, 1 villager and 4 smallholders with 2 ploughs. Value before 1066 30 shillings (£1.50); later 5 shillings (25p): now 16 shillings(80p)
Prior to being developed as an aerodrome in 1917, the site was originally a racecourse set in the grounds of Hooton Hall. This was requisitioned in 1914, at the outbreak of World War 1, for Army training purposes.
The first unit stationed at the new aerodrome was a Royal Flying Corps Pilot Training Unit, which remained on-site until it was disbanded in 1919.
In 1927, the site was purchased with the intention of creating a major airport serving Liverpool and the Northwest of England. During the twenties and thirties Hooton was a flourishing centre for aviation and was visited by several celebrated aviators, including Amy Johnson and Sir Alan Cobham with his Flying Circus. Aeroplanes and engines were manufactured at Hooton, including Nick Comper's famous record breaking 'Swift' and the 'Pobjoy' seven cylinder radial aero engine.
In 1930, Hooton officially became Liverpool Airport, a position it held for three years until near-neighbour Speke took over in 1933.
During the inter-war years, Hooton was a thriving industrial complex. In January 1929 a band of avid flying enthusiasts formed an aero club on the aerodrome at Hooton Park. This club was to grow over the next few years to become the most active flying club in Great Britain outside London, and became a national centre for light aircraft - at the time, a very popular pastime. The club also ran local air races and derbies, and Hooton Park was even a staging post for the famous King's Cup national air races in the 1930s.
The aerodrome was also home for the 'Comper Aircraft Company', which manufactured of one of the most successful light aircraft of the time, the 'Comper CLA 7 Swift', and the 'Pobjoy Aeromotor Company', who produced world-leading light aircraft radial engines. For a short time, Hooton Park was the only commercial aerodrome in the North of England, with operations pre-dating those at Speke (Liverpool) and Ringway (Manchester).
On 10 February 1936, No 610 (County of Chester) Squadron was formed at Hooton as a light bomber unit in the Auxiliary Air Force, taking possession of one of the Belfast hangars to house its 'Avro Tutor' and 'Hawker Hart' aircraft, with flying commencing in May.
On 1 January 1939, the Squadron re-mustered as a fighter unit, but retained 'Hawker Hind' aircraft until the beginning of the war, when it received 'Fairey Battle' aircraft and then 'Hurricanes'. These, in turn, were soon given up in favour of 'Spitfires'. All civil flying had now ceased, apart from 'De Havilland Dragon' aircraft on army co-operation work. Eighteen of Hooton's considerable population of light aircraft were immobilised and stored under the old grandstand, but all were destroyed in July 1940 in a disastrous fire.
During WW2, the station was used by Coastal Command, who operated patrol flights over the Irish Sea from South Wales to Cumbria.
An important function of Hooton's war effort was the assembly and repair of RAF aircraft, undertaken by Messrs Martin Hearn Ltd, which was founded on the site in the mid-thirties by a former wing-walker with Cobhams Flying Circus. During the retreat from Dunkirk, many types of aircraft landed at Hooton Park and, as soon as they touched down, each aircraft was pulled off the runway to a parking position, so freeing up the runway for the next aircraft to land. Examples of all type of machine were in evidence, the list including 'Gloster Gladiators', 'Walruses', 'Douglas C-47s' (DC3s or 'Dakotas'), 'Bostons', 'Blenheims' and 'Swordfish', to name just a few.
In June 1946, No 610 Squadron reformed with Supermarine Spitfire XIVs, eventually giving way to Spitfire 22s, then moving over to the Meteor 4 jets.
In 1949, 663 Squadron formed at Hooton Park, with Tiger Moths and Auster 5s. These were later replaced by DHC (De Havilland Canada) Chipmunks, and Auster 6s and 7s. Aircraft assembly and repair continued until the mid-1950s, with work being undertaken on aircraft for both civil and military operators. In its final years, three Auxiliary Air Force Squadrons operated from Hooton including the reformed No 610 - by this time flying the Gloster Meteor jet fighter.
Hooton Park finally shut its gates as an aerodrome in 1957 but Shell used the airfield for car fuel development and testing until, in 1962, Vauxhall Motors purchased the site. The last aircraft to use the site was in 1988, during the "Wheels" show, when two Harriers landed on part of the old runway prior to their display. The organisers of this event and for other such events went on to form the Griffin Trust, who moved onto the huge site in 1990.
Our Vision and Mission Statement
Hooton Park Trust's vision it to preserve and sustain the Hooton Park Hangars site, with the aim of public access & education at the heart of everything we do.
Our Mission Statement
The main aim of the Trust is to protect the three Grade II* listed Belfast Truss hangars. This will be done in three main ways:
1) The Trust will use part of the site to raise enough funds to ensure its future
2) The Trust will allow public access to part of the site to see exhibits and learn about the history of Hooton Park
3) The Trust will focus on education of all age groups, ethnicities & capabilities to ensure there is a team of people ready for the future. The Hooton Park site has a fabulous history as a Grand Hall, Racecourse, War Time Airfield and now a vehicle manufacturing site. Our mission is to preserve the history, let the public see and learn from that history and educate future generations in whatever way we can.
Our Five Year Plan
Our aim is to remove through-traffic so that we can make the spaces between buildings safe for visitors, particularly families. To achieve reasonable parking levels something has to give! On special days, the assumption is that the bus service will run from a Park and Ride.
The other main aim is to open up more of the site to visitors and extend the attraction to include a new transport gallery in Hangar 17.
The diagram below shows our plans for Hangar 16, with a new 'one way' system and more exhibits. As you can see, we have reversed the circulation so that the first thing you will see is an orientation wall of history boards and visual presentation. It also allows you to explore the hangar rather than walking down the middle with everything pushed to the sides. We have tried to accommodate everyone without losing site of the fact that it is a hangar built for aircraft, so our Partner, Griffin, have a Vauxhall area plus their starter truck and another Partner, CH21, have the side rooms plus a PALS display. There is slack in the layout so that we can accommodate more exhibits as they arrive.
There are still many challenges facing the Trust. However, the ongoing work is helping to ensure that progress is made towards saving the hangars for future generations to enjoy. If you think you can help, then check out our 'Volunteering' section and join us or, if you have a great idea for helping, then please get in touch.
We are open to the public on our monthly Open Days, for Pre-arranged Visits and during the nationwide Annual Heritage Days.
LATEST: Our next public open day for will be in April 2024. This is to allow The Trust time to expand the facilities and displays for re-opening. Keep up to date with the latest news on our Facebook page.
See below for answers to Frequently Asked Questions.
Annual Heritage Open Days
- Annual Event
- Part of Heritage Open Days
- Free admission
- Takes place over several days
- Bank Holiday Weekend
- 2024 dates to be announced
Monthly Open Days
- Next Open Day April 2024
- Admission £5 adults
- Accompanied under-16s free
- Supports our ongoing work
- 10am-4pm (last admission 3pm)
- Air Raid Experience Tour
Pre-Arranged Tours of the Site
- Are you a member of a group?
- Want a tour just for your group?
- Have a more in-depth tour
- Working visits possible
- See behind the scenes
- Get in touch to discuss options
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to a few of the more common questions we get asked, but feel free to contact us if you have your own question or, better still, ask us in person when you visit.
When are you open?
We are currently closed for major improvement works until April 2024 when we will reopen and have an Open Day on the last Sunday of each month (excluding December) from 10am-4pm (last entry 3pm). We also participate in the Annual Heritage Open Day festival - see our Facebook page for the latest information.
The Caravan and Cherished Vehicle Storage facility is open 7 days a week - see 'Facilities' for further details.
How much do you charge for parking?
Parking is free, just pay for your entry to the Collection.
Are dogs allowed on site?
Dogs are welcome on site as long as they are kept under control on a lead and any 'accidents' are cleared up as they happen.
Do aircraft still take off and land at Hooton?
Sadly, we longer have a functioning runway but you can hear about the aircraft that were regular visitors to the site during our Guided Tour, including the Air Raid Experience, which is included in your entry charge.
What other events take place at Hooton Park Hangars?
We do have other events such as auctions, but those are organised by outside parties and entry is determined by them. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for details of events that are open to the public.
Can I help restore the aircraft and other vehicles you have on site?
Our band of enthusiatic volunteers are always looking out for people with a similar passion. You can read a bit more about volunteering in the 'Volunteering' section.
The team at Hooton Park Hangars is pleased to work alongside these wonderful organisations
Hooton Park Hangars
It is easy to keep up with what is happening at Hooton Park Hangars using the link below. Or why not consider volunteering? It's rewarding, worthwhile and great fun!
Office: 0151 327 3565
Duty Officer: 07598 772068