610 (COUNTY OF CHESTER) SQUADRON ASSOCIATION
|WE WILL NOT BE MOVED|
At the present time, April 2009, we are fighting to maintain our presence at
Hooton Park where we currently have a meeting room, workshop and crew room.
We also have the replica Spitfire painted in 610 Squadron markings and a
Hurricane replica down there - but not for long it seems as Tim Storrar (Peter’s son)
has put them both up for sale.
The Hooton Park Trust (HPT) has told 610 Squadron Association to move off the site. The Trust has stated that 610 Squadron Association makes insufficient contribution towards site maintenance. This is patently untrue and we can list many major projects that our members have undertaken willingly and freely. Most importantly, prior to the year 2000, the Squadron Association was heavily involved with the campaign to save the three historic hangars. You will remember that Hooton Park was the original home of 610 Squadron, right from 1936 when the Squadron formed, through to 1957 when they were disbanded. It is worth pointing out that 610 Squadron Association is the largest group on site and yet does not have any representation on the HPT board.
In the late nineteen nineties, Vauxhall Motors who owned the site put in a planning application to demolish these historic buildings and turn the land into a giant car park. In response, the campaign to save the hangars launched by 610 Squadron Association involved face to face discussion with Vauxhall’s Managing Director, Nick Reilly and led directly to the successful handover of the site to the specially formed HPT. Our campaign generated over 4,000 letters of protest against Vauxhall’s proposed demolition. These letters were sent to Ellesmere Port and Neston Council and resulted in Vauxhall’s plans being overturned. It also brought about the re-grading by English Heritage of the three Belfast Truss hangars to a Grade II Star listing.
Since handover of the hangars to HPT on 9th October 2000, very little has been achieved at Hooton. Refurbishment work identified by consultant engineers Adams and Co in 2000 has still not been started. Hangar No 3 has suffered a major roof collapse and is practically a ruin. Half of Hangar No 1 is dangerous and propped up with scaffolding. We have been told that funds are available for work on the valley gutter of Hangar No 2. Work on this should have started this year but to date there is no evidence of this.
So what has HPT achieved in nine years you may ask? We believe that their governance of the site has been appalling and we dispute their right to ask 610 Squadron Association t o leave, let alone continue to manage the site. We have instructed our solicitors accordingly and we will keep you informed. Mike Lewis