Friday 2 April 2021

RAF Norton

Just up from where we used to live in Sheffield was a place locally known as Lightwood. Hidden behind the high fence was in fact an old WW2 RAF base for barrage ballons

The site housed many of Sheffield's anti- aircraft Barrage Balloons during WW2. These were places at strategic locations to protect the city from enemy aircraft. RAF Norton was also an important training base. Here crews were trained in things such as signals, in readiness of flights to Germany for Bomber Harris.

The RAF took possession of the site in the summer of  1939. This was in preparation for the forthcoming war which was widely expected. The city urgentley needed air defences. Initially people were trainind at an office on 641 Attercliffe Road, then transferred to the site at Norton when it fininally opened.

Initially it was known as No.16 Balloon Centre Lightwood, after the nearby Lightwood Lane. By 1939 three squadrons were ready to defend the city. These were 393 West, 940 Rotherham and 941 Central squadrons. Initially each squadron had three flights each with eight balloons.

 However, at its full strenght there were a total of 72 balloons which could be deployed to defend the city. Later squadrons were merged into two. Not only did the site house balloons but much general maintainance and training performed at the site. The site played an important role in defending the city during the Blitz in December 1940.

Here were three main hangers and many additioanl buildings. Many call the site `Norton Aerodrome' which is incorrect, as aircraft were not stationed there. However a misunderstanding is unstandable as the site was built to look like an airfield in order to lure enemy aircraft to bomb it rather than the factories of Sheffield.

By 1943 the threat was receeding. The site was handed over to the Signals Division and renamed RAF Norton. It now took on a training role, housing No3 Ground Radio Servicing Squadron. Also of note was the nearby Cinderhill Lane where German POW's were housed. This was not a prisioner of war camp but a work camp.

After of the War

The site continued as a training camp and depot. Many remember the Spitfire (PK724) which was situated at the site from November 1955 - March 196 which, was painted Silver in 1957. 

The Spitfire went to RAF Gaydon as gate guardian then it went to the RAF Museum at Hendon where it was fully restored and is now displayed there. and later this was joined by a De Haviland Vampire. Lancaster Bombers would fly past the site. At its height 400 RAF staff were based here.

In the 1950's, a few airshows took place with a mass flypast by Wellingtons and Lanscasters a sight to behold

The place was finally closed in 1965 with its functions being moved to Rutland. It was once earmarked for a third big hospital before being used from 2014 for driving lessons.

Demolition work has now started, having been delayed due to the pandemic

A Meteor, left, and Vampire at RAF Norton in 1955.


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RAF Norton

Just up from where we used to live in Sheffield was a place locally known as Lightwood. Hidden behind the high fence was in fact an old WW2 ...