Funeral atmosphere as last planes take-off from Filton Airfield

Cllr Bill Bowrey (Lab, Kings Chase) "pays his respects".

An air of sadness hung over Filton Airfield today as the last few planes took-off ahead of the official closure at the end of the year.

Aircraft enthusiasts, past and present aerospace workers, local Councillors and members of the public gathered at various sites around the airfield to witness the historic occasion, which brought to an end over one hundred years of aviation operations at the site.

Local Labour Councillors who have campaigned to save the airfield laid a symbolic wreath on the boundary fence at the eastern end of the runway to mark its closure.

District Councillor Adam Monk (Labour, Filton) said:

“It is perhaps appropriate that the night which follows the closure of the runway at Filton is the longest and darkest night of the year. In 1940 German bombs failed to close the airfield but today developers and short-sighted Tory and Lib Dem Councillors have succeeded where they failed. They have closed the birthplace of Concorde, the Brabazon and the Bristol Beaufighter, perhaps for ever, and endangered thousands of high tech jobs in the process.”

The Labour Councillors acknowledged the work of the Save Filton Airfield group, which continues to argue that the airfield must be re-opened, and said they will be encouraging the new Mayor of Bristol to pursue the independent economic study that he says is necessary to determine the regional impact of the airfield’s closure.

Labour Councillor Bill Bowrey said:

“I respectfully suggest to the Mayor of Bristol that this economic study for our City Region will also have implications for the wider UK economy and should therefore be conducted with the support of the UK Government, which is currently consulting on its long-term aviation policies.”

The ongoing campaign to save the airfield was also supported by UKIP, which yesterday sent a letter to Simon Burns MP, minister of State for Transport, calling on him to urgently consider the implications of “closing and building over” the airfield.

The letter, signed by William Dartmouth (UKIP MEP for the South West), Neil Hamilton (UKIP National Executive Committee) and District Councillor Ben Walker (UKIP, Bradley Stoke North), calls on the Government to act in the national interest and “override the local planning decision in order to ensure that Filton Airfield continues as an operational airfield”.

BAE Systems has said it is closing the airfield because it “economically unviable”, although this is disputed by the campaign groups, who point to the fact that it has made a small profit in the last two years for which figures are available.

South Gloucestershire Council has outlined a strategic plan to build 2,500 homes on the site of the airfield along with 55ha reserved for employment.

The Bristol Post revealed today that the defence company has agreed to sell the site to property development company Bridgehouse Capital Limited in a deal believed to be worth £120 million.

Assurances have been given that the Western Counties police helicopter and the Great Western air ambulance will be able to continue operations from the site, despite the closure of the airfield.

BAE Systems recently announced the donation of £2.4 million towards the establishment of an aerospace heritage museum on the site, which would provide a permanent home for Concorde 216.

The last three aircraft to take-off from the airfield line up on the runway.

Photo 1: Cllr Bill Bowrey (Labour, Kings Chase) “pays his respects”.

Photo 2: The last three aircraft to take-off from the airfield line up on the runway.

More photos on PicasaWeb and Facebook (The Journal)

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  1. Final Air Traffic Control (ATC) transmission from Filton Airfield.

    Controller [with emotion]: “Good luck to you all. This is Air Traffic Filton closing down.”

    Pilot (of final plane to take-off): “… Will the last man out turn off the lights please.”

  2. Labour when in power new this was going to happen and did nothing about it then ,but now they shout their mouths off and blame everyone else .thats just like them

  3. @Happy

    How do you work that out then?? When were Labour in power in either South Gloucs or Bristol? Because that is the only local reference in this timescale, it happened under the current Condem govt btw, not before.

    No one knew before that, only possible knowledge was the ALLEGED collusion between SGC and BAE. FOI papers show recommendations were made to ‘watch out’ for a certain Filton Labour Councillor btw…

    It’s well established that bar a couple of notable and honourable exceptions in Doug Daniels, Ben Walker, Ed Rose and Barry Cash that it was only Labour ever trying to save the airfield with the SFA group, so what you are basing your argument on is beyond me.

    I had a little chuckle in a nice way when one of the SFA group mentioned their run-ins with you in the Bristol Post, you had them thinking you were a BAE insider with all the allegations you make!

    Perhaps you are, and it’s me you’ve been fooling all along??!!

  4. I’m talking about 20 odd years ago when they did know about what was going to happening with the airfield and Charlton Hayes .And yes he thought I was some kind of mole I had to have a little laugh myself about the Dave. Never a dull moment I say!!

  5. Never a dull moment with you around that’s for sure Happy!

    Look, there was never real public knowledge about the future of the airfield, but i don’t doubt this was a done deal behind closed doors a long time ago, and the writing has sadly been on the wall a long time with snippets leaking out too, the refusal of the airport, the sale and development of the northfield, charlton hayes plans and so on. A pretty clear indication was the new road having roundabouts with exits onto the airfield. I suspect there will be a road right across to Brentry one day, despite opposition, Charlotte Leslie is not too keen on that from what I’ve read.

    Anyway, here we are with history being undone and the past coming back to haunt the future or lack of it for a long term manufacturing base, houses are coming instead. Time will tell though, time will tell.

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