MHG25210 - Evanton Airfield - Evanton, Alness

Summary

No summary available.

Type and Period (1)

  • MILITARY AIRFIELD (Second World War - 1939 AD? to 1945 AD?)

Protected Status

  • None recorded

Full Description

Runways, hangars and many other buildings extant. Airfield focus 16. Evanton. Was known as Novar during WWI. <1>

See also NO43SW 88.

NH66NW 34.01 Centred NH 6215 6673 Hangars; Buildings; Huts
NH66NW 34.02 Centred NH 6200 6700 Buildings; Nissen Huts; Huts
NH66NW 34.03 Centred NH 6263 6755 Hangars; Buildings; Nissen Huts
NH66NW 34.04 Centred NH 6253 6778 Military Camp
NH66NW 34.05 Centred NH 6185 6760 Military Camp
NH66NW 34.06 Centred NH 6261 6708 Hangars; Buildings; Nissen huts; Huts
NH66NW 34.07 NH 6279 6683 Pillbox
NH66NW 34.08 NH 6283 6655 Pillbox
NH66NW 34.09 Centred NH 6200 6675 Houses; Buildings; Huts
NH66NW 34.10 Centred NH 6170 6640 Bomb Store

A thriving industrial estate has ensured this airfields preservation. The hangars and technical sites are on a higher level and the hangars reflect the mixture of RN and RAF use, with an assortment of 'F' and 'S' types, Bellmans and a 'B1'. <2>

The main part of Evanton Airfield is situated to the S of a new stretch of the A9 improvement scheme which has itself destroyed many of the ancilliary buildings and accommodation camps. Immediately to the S of the new stretch of road is a small industrial estate in which many of the large hangars have survived (NH66NW 34.01) due to their re-use by a number of local industries. Several of the hangars are now derelict and are being allowed to deteriorate, some with the large sliding doors removed. Airfield buildings are noted in three main areas two to the S of the A9 and one to the N. Little remains of the accommodation areas which are seen on vertical air photographs (RAF 106G/Scot/UK 114, 3097-3100, flown 1946) Two pillboxes, one of which has a pitched roof, stand on the E side of the runways on a bank beyond a large drain adjacent to the coastline. The runways have survived, however, and one now has been partly built over by an oil pipeline construction frame which has been extended to run on to a causeway running out into the Cromarty Firth. Much of the land between the runways has reverted to farmland. The E-W runway is 1248 yds long and the NE-SW is 1002 yards long. The airfield was spread over a large area and incorporated many of the aspects of RAF and RN ownership including bomb stores, accommodation, repairs, stores and motor transport buildings, few of these survive, though some elements can be detected in the four main groups of buildings. A good plan of the airfield is held in the Public Record Office in Kew, London.
Visited by RCAHMS (DE) January and May 1997.

This airfield was the centre of ARCH's Evanton Wartime Remains project in 2013. Evanton airfield was occupied from 1922 until 1956. From 1922 to the end of the 1930s it was known as Novar Airfield or Newton of Novar airfield. The airfield buildings were located on the Industrial estate, across the current Big Burn, under and in the fields around MacGas. The camp is first mentioned in the Ross-shire Journal in 1922 (16 June). It was used seasonally twice a year to service the planes when the fleet was in Invergordon, with accommodation in tents and makeshift timber huts situated at NH 625 670. Nothing remains from this early airfield. Fortunately, photos survived of the airfield in 2013, some at Alness Heritage Centre, some on the Invergordon Archive website, at Cornerstone Café in Evanton and in Jim Hughes’ books, <3> and A Steep Turn to the Stars (1991). The photographs showed tents and canvas and timber Bessonneau hangars. In the grass near the burn large metal stakes (pickets) had been discarded, and were possible remains of large tent pegs for these canvas tents.
The road could clearly be seen in the photographs, and survived in 2013, providing a good frame of reference. It was paralleled by a channel known locally as the mill stream, presumably connecting from the mill at Newton Road North, but culverted in a number of places. This mill stream was joined to the Big Burn by 2013, but the burn had been diverted to its present course some time after the war, probably between 1962 and 1965 judging from aerial photos. Before then it took a route towards the present Blythswood premises. The mill stream took a sharp turn to the south near the copse so visible in the photos.
In 1937 it was greatly expanded to become an RAF gunnery school (RAF Evanton), resulting in redevelopment of the original site, hangars near the Deephaven entrance, and accommodation to the north at Newton Road North. Workshops around the current Blythswood buildings remained part of the Fleet Air Arm. Then in 1943 and 1944 the site was returned to Admiralty control, becoming a Class B repair yard, at first run as a satellite from Fearn and known as HMS Owl II, but in 1944 renamed HMS Fieldfare. Extensive new workshops and hangars were built at the Beechwood area, and accommodation across the old A9, stretching up to Novar house.
There was only one F hangar on the site, and most of the S-type hangars appear to have actually been Mainhill hangars, according to wartime plans. Smith 1983 <4> mentioned a B1 hangar, but it was not clear which building he was referring to. The pitched roof on the pillbox no longer survived at the time of this project (see MHG27886).
A number of plans survived of the airfield and were significant sources for the 2013 project. One in the R.A.F. Museum was dated to 1946, but probably depicted 1943, when the airfield was rebuilt. This is likely because it ignored the areas rebuilt at that time (RAF Museum: MPC77/1/449). A copy of this was found in Alness Heritage Centre. The National Archives in London had a sketch map showing defended positions, dating to c. 1942, as well as details of fire apparatus points (National Archives AIR 29/594). The National Archives in London also preserved detailed plans from the 1943/1944 rebuilding of the camp, with a key listing proposed functions of buildings (National Archives: ADM 1/13568; ADM 1/13626). Admiralty plans in private possession included one from 1949 of the entire airfield, with numbers reflecting the Admiralty key, an underground cable scheme of the Beechwood area, and details of the lower yard near Blythswood. <4>

See also <5> <6> <7> <8> <9> <10>

Sources/Archives (8)

Map

Location

Grid reference Centred NH 6209 6699 (2165m by 2618m) (Buffered by site type)
Map sheet NH66NW
Geographical Area ROSS AND CROMARTY
Civil Parish ALNESS

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