The Dunstall Park airfield
The Midlands aviation meeting was held on Dunstall Park
racecourse, which was opened in 1888 and got its own station on the
Great Western Railway in 1895. The airfield was roughly triangular,
bordered on the northwest side by the Staffordshire and Worcestershire
Canal and on the northeast side by a viaduct and a high railway banking
along the Birmingham Canal. The race course was also triangular, with a
farm and a clump of trees inside the western turn. Its length was 1 1/8
miles, i.e. 1.81 kilometres. Six permanent hangars were built before
the meeting, and several temporary ones.
The airfield was well situated and already equipped with grandstands
and catering facilities, but as an airfield it was not considered
ideal. Apart from the trees in the infield it was also surrounded by
trees, which together with the viaduct and the railway banking caused a
lot of turbulence. The condition of the ground was also criticized,
since there were many ruts and holes and the horserace course was not
level with the surrounding field.
The airfield was used for occasional flying displays and for testing
the aeroplanes and engines of local manufacturers Star and Sunbeam, but
after World War I flying activity ceased.
In 1916 a strip of land at the south edge of the field was sold to make
place for industrial development. This reduced the length of the
horserace course somewhat, but Dunstall Park is still after 130 years a
very active racecourse, with bars, restaurants, a conference and
exhibition centre and a hotel, hosting around 100 meetings a year.
The airfield map from the meeting program.
The line of hangars, with the railway viaduct in the background.
Nearest the camera are three of the permanent hangars, while those
further away are temporary. (1)
The line of hangars, seen from the opposite side. (2)
The timers and judges in action in the timing pavillion. (1)
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