SOMERTON
And NORTHWOOD

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Lat/Long :50 44 51N/01 18 32W .Aprox 100 feet ASL.

RUNWAYS: Grass 2490ft,lengthened to 3600 ft in 1947.

Somerton Map

First use of the area above was during the early part of WW1 when J.Samuel White and Co.used a field at Three Gate Cottages ,Northwood,(probably at "B" above) to fly landplanes built in their factory at Cowes.

In 1916 Whites purchased the land marked as "A" on the map and set up an airfield which opened at the end of March 1916.In addition a site("C") was purchased and a new factory was built .In addition the RAF used the aerodrome in 1918 and 1919,basing the Coastal Battery Co-operation School aircraft there( a dozen BE2Cs).However with the end of WW1,the RAF left in late 1919,and Whites having ceased aircraft production in July 1919,the airfield lapsed into (temporary) disuse.

During the early 20s the airfield operated as an unlicensed aerodrome used by light aircraft and gliders.From 1929 Saunders(later SARO) took over the airfield and used it for flight testing.The image below shows a SARO Cutty Sark on the airfield.SARO were joined on 20th February 1931 by Spartan Aircraft who moved into the buildings previously used by J.S.White.

The image below ,looking north in 1926 shows the airfield as it was at the time. Newport Road is in the centre, with the Saunders Buildings at mid-upper right.The original wooden hangars on the Newport Road are at almost dead centre..

The airfield site in 1945 after the war finished.The available runway length was approximately 1200yds North/South.
The airfield site today ...a 2008 air shot courtesy of Geoff Hall of the Kent Microlight Aircraft Club.

Also during the 30s Spartan Airlines operated services(See advert below) ,using the locally built Cruiser aircraft.In 1933 the available landing run was 720 yds.The airline was absorbed by British airways in 1936, and services ceased when WW2 commenced in 1939

Other activity included the Isle of Wight Gliding Club which used the field during the 1930s

During WW2 all other Isle of Wight airfields were closed and the landing areas obstructed.Somerton remained open as a communications airfield,being used mainly by Saunders-Roe,but any other activity was minimal until the end of the war.

In August 1946,Somerton Airways was formed by Russell Gunton Ltd of East Cowes to operate their newly aquired Percival Proctor.The company quickly expanded their fleet by adding three Auster aircraft by the end of 1946.The aircraft operated freight and passenger flights from Somerton airfield and the Austers were also used by the Cowes Aero Club.In addition Somerton Airways operated the aerodrome at Somerton as well as providing pleasure flights during the summer. Plans to use a Supermarine Walrus for flights to France and Scandinavia were not realised,and the Walrus ,aquired in August 1947,was sold a few months later. At the same time ,control of Somerton Airways passed to Morgan Aviation,who also took over the Cowes Aero Club.The fleet was expanded to include a Hornet Moth and a Rapide. At the end of 1948,the name changed again ,back to Somerton Airways,and ,in 1949,the company operated services to Portsmouth and Southampton under a BEA Associate Agreement. A further change of name ,to Somerton Airways(Cowes)Ltd ,took place on 27th July 1950,but with the end of the BEA Associate Agreement on 29th April 1951,the airline ceased operations.The aircraft were sold shortly after and all airline operations from Somerton ceased.This in turn led to the closure of the Airfield. A posibility of use by Air Services Training of Hamble did not materialize and the land was eventually sold.Today the original works erected by J S White still stand virtually unchanged after more than 80 years.

SOMERTON AIRWAYS Fleet
					
G-AEWY	Hornet Moth	8116	        del 2-48		
G-AGPI	Dragon Rapide	6885	        del 5-49	w/o at Cowes 16-6-49	
G-AHCM	J/1 Autocrat	1979	        del 10-46		
G-AHWY	Proctor V	Ae.81	        del 8-46	w/o at Bembridge 9-9-48	
G-AIBS	J/1 Autocrat	2154	        del 10-46	w/o at Peterborough 22-5-51	
G-AIJO	Auster J/4	2071	        del 12-46	sold 9-49	
G-AIWH	Anson 1	        ex NK787        del 3-48	sold 1949	
G-AIWU	Walrus II	ex HD867	del 8-47	sold 12-47	not used
G-AJPS	J/2 Arrow	2389	        del 6-47		
G-AKZU	Messenger 4A	ex RH369	del 6-48,	sold 2-51	
G-ALBA	Dragon Rapide	6821	        del 7-48		
					
At closure the airline was still using G-AEWY,G-AHCM,G-AJPS and G-ALBA.					

The two images below - from Liam Thomas show(Top)the Cowes Aeromodelling Club in about 1949 taken in front of the main Newport Road hangar complex which was used by Saunders Roe and Morgan Aviation. The Proctor in the background is G-AJVJ which belonged to Saunders-Roe and which was destroyed by fire in that year.

The lower photo is of Hiller G-AOFL from Hamble carrying out a PFL over the Three Gates Road taken in about 1956 - well after closure of the airfield. The old White's factory building can be seen in the background.

Present day view of site of Somerton Airfield

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