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Blandford Airfield

In the 1920s and 30s, Blandford had its own airfield known as the Blandford Aerodrome. It could be found next to Blandford Cemetery along Salisbury Road where today there is housing.

Apparently, it had three grass landing strips and was on the Automobile Association’s Register of Approved Landing Grounds all of which were inspected monthly. For an annual subscription, each AA member was provided with a site plan and airfield map reference. Facilities such as hangers were listed together with any hazards such as overhead power lines. Fuel supply details and suitable overnight accommodation were also detailed. The AA also provided a box for messages to be left which would be collected by an AA motorcyclist who would pass them on, as required.

In November 1931, a Bryanston schoolmaster crashed at Blandford when he lost control of his aircraft.  In Blandford Hospital with concussion and severe cuts, he laconically commented, ’luckily it did not burst into flames or I wouldn’t be telling the story!’

Blandford Airfield’s most memorable day was Wednesday 11th July 1934, when Alan Cobham’s Air Display Team arrived. With afternoon and evening shows, a large attendance was attracted. The group, known as his ‘Flying Circus’, consisted of daredevil pilots and parachutists and ten propeller driven aircraft. Among them was Flight Lieutenant Tyson and ‘glider girl’ Joan Meakin. Tyson’s performance involved looping a hoop located on the airfield, picking up a handkerchief with his wing tip and then flying upside down at 50 feet. Joan Meakin was the first woman to ‘loop the loop’ in a glider. Former Blandford Town Clerk, Charles Lavington recalled:

‘The late Sir Alan Cobham and Captain Black were two of the pilots I remember. I think the charge for a flight over the town was five shillings (25p) with an additional charge if one took part in stunt flying such as loop the loop.’

There was a competition to win free flights as well as free flights for local dignitaries.

In July 1935, Blandford Town Council was making representations to the Air Ministry for the site to be taken over to become a Royal Air Force base together with the then closed former RAF Blandford Camp site. Unfortunately, the proposal did not come to fruition as the site was considered too small not meeting the Air Ministry’s minimum 1,100 sq. yards requirement. Three years later there was less enthusiasm for a RAF bombing range being established a little to the north of the Cemetery Aerodrome. The Council had been invited to a bombing demonstration at Porton Down. The councillors were divided on the proposal but the mayor cast his vote against the bombing range so it progressed no further.


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