Memories of Flight in (and over) Weaverham
Helsby had its balloon pioneer but Weaverham also has had its occasional brush with aeronauts of one sort or another.
The best known and featured elsewhere on the website is the bombing of Nook Farm in November 1940.
But, as revealed by memories of village life found in the Society’s Oral History Project, there are other occasions and activities that prove that the sky has had its place in village life.
“Tell us about that aeroplane? You know you were telling me last night, when you were at school and it came down then the other one came down?”
“That’s right Copley Hollis by Hartford Beach; well the first field on your right then, there is all houses on it now. A plane came down at about 11 o’clock one morning.”
“When was this?”
“I would be about 10, so if you say 1924-25. It came down of course it soon got round the school that there was an aeroplane in the field. That was something new; you didn’t see an aeroplane that came down. Then about dinnertime another one came down to assist it, whatever had gone wrong with the engine I don’t know. But the kids never went back to school until they saw the two planes go. The planes went about 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and they troop back to school then.”
“Were they RAF planes or private?”
“I remember when I started infant school, I would be 4 when I started, and I remember a German Zeppelin going over. You could have hit that Zeppelin with a catapult it was that low and all the children had come out to line around the school wall. The war was still on then. I remember from 1918.”
“During the War I was in the ARP. Cyril Catley was the Head Warden and he used to get my brother and I out. Good alarm system. We used to sleep in the end bedroom and we had a tin can with a marble in and a piece of string hanging down and Cyril Catley used to come when he got the warning and jangle on there. The pair of us used to get up and scare my mother and father as we had to walk through their bedroom and we had to go on bicycles to get all wardens up in a certain area. Our headquarters was at the Ring O Bells by the church and we used to report there and we used to go out and if any bombs were dropped, we used to go out and see what the damage was and report back. I was on duty when this was blown here, a big hole in the road. Dropped two mines, one here and one opposite the entrance to Hefferston Grange. They dropped a lot of incendiaries by Mainwaring’s. They used the top of the church as an observation post. My father was in the Home Guard.”
Just to close, another flight related anecdote!
Harold Jackson – recorded February 2004 – Pigeon keeping memories.
“At the outbreak of World War Two the National Pigeon Service was formed to supply young pigeons for the services. The best fancier in the Weaverham club was its Secretary, Mr. Fred Lewis who joined the N.P.S. All N.P.S. members were allowed a ration of best pigeon corn to enable them to rear top quality birds. Mr. Lewis was the only Weaverham fancier accepted in the N.P.S. and with his expertise and good quality feed he was almost unbeatable. The remaining club members had a hard time feeding their birds and had to use acorns, porridge oats etc. and whatever they could scrounge off local farmers and shopkeepers. Groats used in the making of black puddings were also obtained off the pork butcher if you were lucky.”
Weaverham Flying Club
“Despite all the difficulties the club managed to continue with a programme of races right through the war on the South Route as far as Weymouth, and I myself, Harold Jackson, used to get a letter from home each week (I was in RAF Coastal Command) giving me the race result. Everyone in the club had to have a permit to keep pigeons during the war, I had a permit for 24 birds and once a month a policeman used to visit my lofts and my Dad would have to turn all the birds out of the loft. At the end of the war all demobbed servicemen were allowed to join the N.P.S. and were allowed a ration of corn for their birds and this lasted for a few years until the food problem eased.”
At a time when the skies have been quiet it is perhaps good to remind ourselves of the involvement that any village can have with the now “accessible realm”, and in the words of John Gillespie Magee from “High Flight”:
“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;”
Meanwhile, just to remind you, our next Zoom meeting is on
Tuesday 8 June 2021 at 7.30 pm – details are below, and we look forward to seeing you all then. However, we also hope that you will be able to join us in person when our meetings resume later in 2021.
Owen Powell, a local historian who works in museums and schools, will be giving us a Zoom talk on the history of the Home Guard.
“Usually when people think of the Home Guard they picture the lovable but bumbling characters from the BBC TV series ‘Dad’s Army’. Find out whether this was an accurate depiction of the real Home Guard, how they were trained and equipped and where this idea for wartime home defence originally came from.”
Owen Powell is a History and Heritage Management graduate who works in museums, schools and libraries across the North West as a heritage learning practitioner. He is also the Chairman of The Great War Society which provide First World War living history input for a wide variety of heritage sites, museums and public bodies. These have included English Heritage; the National Trust; Historic Royal Palaces; the Black Country Living Museum; the Royal Air Force Museum and the British Army to name but a few.
Jacquie Williams, Chair and the Committee
Please see our revised schedule on our Programme page:
Weaverham History Society promotes the study of and interest in history and archaeology with particular reference to Weaverham and the surrounding area.
|The Society meets at Weaverham Primary Academy, Northwich Road, Weaverham, Northwich, Cheshire, CW8 3BD.|
Meetings are held on the second Tuesday of each month and we invite a guest speaker to talk to us on a topic of historical or archaeological interest, though sometimes the subjects range further afield. You can see what’s planned on our Programme page.
Membership is £15.00 per year with renewals in September. Payments can be made by BACS sort code 09-01-29 a/c 26685458. Meetings are free to members of the Weaverham History Society, children and students. Visitors are requested to pay £3 at each meeting.
We also organise highly enjoyable visits to local places of interest in spring and summer usually by coach from the village and we seem to have started a tradition of having a yearly canal boat trip as well. The Society normally invests in the services of Blue Badge guides on our visits. We also have a very enjoyable Christmas event every year, the talk commonly having a seasonal flavour.
We have articles on a range of topics, mainly about Weaverham, but also covering the surrounding areas. Although not a dedicated family history group, we do have some information on local families, and are always interested to hear from you.
We are continually developing our Archives and we have an array of items (objects, maps, and photos). We are always grateful to receive any contributions.
As we expand our new website you will be able to see some of what we have by visiting our Weaverham Archives page.
The Weaverham History Society also has a Facebook page.
We launched this website in January 2016, but while we move things across you can still find the old website at http://history.weaverham.org.uk/index2015.htm
Our June meeting will have Owen Powell, an historian who also works in schools and museums across Lancashire, who will be giving us the low down on the Home Guard in Britain. The talk is to be held on Tuesday 8 June at 7.30 pm via Zoom.
So do join us. If you would like to attend our June meeting please contact the Society on
As before I will initially send out an acknowledgement and then nearer the time send a Zoom link together with the meeting ID and password so that you can join the meeting.
I will also send out a reminder in advance of the meeting.
I should like to thank all those who have contributed to our meeting costs. This has really made a difference. So thank you very much. If anyone would still like to contribute, payments can be made directly using our BACS sort code 09-01-29, account 26685458.
I look forward to seeing you in June.
The Battle of Britain 10th July – 31st October 1940
80th Aniversary 2020
Following the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk and the fall of France, Germany planned to gain air supremacy in preparation for the invasion of Great Britain. The Luftwaffe began with an air and sea blockade targeting coastal shipping, convoys and shipping centres but on 1st August 1940 they were directed to achieve air supremacy by incapacitating RAF Fighter Command. Within days this led to them not only targeting airfields but also aircraft factories and infrastructure.
The Battle of Britain was the first military campaign fought entirely by air forces and the bravery of RAF pilots of Fighter Command flying Hurricanes and Spitfires supported by ground crew led to the defeat of the Luftwaffe forcing Hitler to abandon his invasion plans. The Battle of Britain was fought over Southern England and was later to be followed by the Blitz (starting with a bombing campaign over London and later targeting other major cities in the country such as Liverpool).
The Battle of Britain saved the nation from invasion and we have to thank the many pilots of the RAF as well as those from other countries who fought so bravely and, in many cases, sacrificed their lives.
Read more here.