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Montrose, Montrose Airfield, General

Military Airfield (Second World War), Military Airfield (First World War)

Site Name Montrose, Montrose Airfield, General

Classification Military Airfield (Second World War), Military Airfield (First World War)

Alternative Name(s) 1st World War Montrose Air Station; Montrose Aerodrome

Canmore ID 36244

Site Number NO75NW 31

NGR NO 71795 59399

NGR Description Centred NO 71795 59399

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Angus
  • Parish Montrose
  • Former Region Tayside
  • Former District Angus
  • Former County Angus

World War One Audit of Surviving Remains (31 May 2013)

Montrose (Broomfield) military aerodrome [AS_L1_30] NO75NW 31 succeeded the first Montrose aerodrome at Upper Dysart, which had been built before the First World War. Construction began in 1913 in an area between the NE edge of the town and the beach. The station saw only limited activity in 1914 and 1915, but developed a greater role in training and aircraft repair in the later years of the war. It was the only Royal Flying Corps station (in contrast to Royal Naval Air Stations) in Scotland at the beginning of 1916.

By 1918 the aerodrome covered an area of 75 hectares, measuring about 915m by 820m, bounded on the west by a railway line. In a survey of RAF aerodromes in August 1918 the aerodrome was known as ‘No. 32 Training Depot Station (NW Area; No. 20 Group, 30th Wing)’, the function of which was ‘A Training Depot Station (Three Unit), Single Seater Fighter’ and ‘(b) HQ of 30th Wing’. The 1918 map of the station shows only a limited number of buildings, arranged differently from the Training Depots constructed from scratch in 1917-18, such as Crail or Leuchars. Six Royal Flying Corps pattern side-opening aeroplane sheds were built in 1913-14 along the SW edge of the aerodrome boundary; only a bare handful of other buildings is mapped, and the 1918 survey identifies these as teaching huts and gunnery and wireless huts, ammunition stores, night stores and the ‘Women’s Rest Hut’. The rest of the station’s technical and accommodation buildings were at Panmure Barracks, in Montrose – further teaching buildings, workshops and accommodation for the officers who commanded the depot, their officer pupils, and the male and female service personnel who worked there. The six hangars were prefabricated in Glasgow and were originally intended for the Upper Dysart site, the decision being made to move the station to Broomfield before delivery.

The 1918 survey delineated a separate area less than 100m to the south of the main station, measuring 135m by 110m. By the time of the 3rd epoch OS 1:2500 map this area was occupied by a complex of buildings, probably adding to or replacing the accommodation at Panmure Barracks. The hangars and other buildings of the station are also marked on this same map.

In 1918 the establishment of the station was 180 officer and Non Commissioned Officer pupils, and 659 base staff, of whom 216 were women; the buildings to increase the station’s strength from two to three squadrons was still under way in the summer of 1918. The base was designed to have 36 Camel and 36 Avro aeroplanes.

The station was noted in 1918 as being on the list of ‘permanent stations’, rather than a temporary, wartime only, base. This did not, however, prevent the Training Depot being disbanded in May 1919 and the aerodrome closed and passed back to the army in 1920; the hangars were used to store tanks and artillery pieces, and the accommodation area to the south was sold. The aerodrome was re-opened as an operational RAF station in 1936. The RAF left in 1950.

Three of the First World War hangars survive, although now covered in modern steel cladding. What is supposed to be the wooden First World War station HQ building is now the aerodrome museum. A timber building identified as a guard room also survives.

Information from HS/RCAHMS World War One Audit Project 31 May 2013

Architecture Notes

This site has only been partially upgraded for SCRAN. For full details, please consult the Architecture Catalogues for Angus District.

March 1998


Watching Brief (2001)

NO 72 58 A programme of watching briefs were undertaken as part of the upgrading of the Montrose and Ferryden waste water network. Four areas were monitored - Montrose Airfield (NMRS NO75NW 31), the Infirmary to Ferry Street, Rossie Island and Ferryden. The watching brief on the airfield, one of the oldest in the UK, recovered artefacts and structures from WW2, including a dump of gas masks, helmets and water bottles.

Sponsor: North of Scotland Water Authority.

J MIllar 2001

Note (2005)

The airfield is visible in the background of an RAF WW II oblique aerial photograph (No.1 CAM, 11683, flown 14 April 1943). The view is from the NW and the complete airfield and the mouth of the River Esk are visible. Further wartime coverage is noted on the following sorties; oblique 772.H61, 4.19-4.29, flown 16 February 1942 and vertical A309, 5257-5261, flown 9 July 1941, which show most of the airfield.

Examination of the WW II images shows that at the dates of the photographs the aircraft hangars destroyed by enemy action had already been replaced by the Bellman type, and that there are several other hangars, blister and other types, around the perimeter of the airfield. In addition, many of the defences, including the pillboxes are visible as are the various communications and accommodation sites.

The site is also visible on the postwar series, (106G/Scot/UK 142, 2124-2127, 4113-4115, flown 11 July 1946), which show the later wartime alterations to the airfield and it's buildings.

Information from RCAHMS (DE), September/November 2005.

Project (March 2013 - September 2013)

A project to characterise the quantity and quality of the Scottish resource of known surviving remains of the First World War. Carried out in partnership between Historic Scotland and RCAHMS.

Publication Account (2013)

The first operational military airfield in the UK was set up by the RFC in 1913. The first hangars are Indian Army patterns, timber-framed corrugated-iron clad (one with the original sheeting profiles) and sliding doors, oldest in the UK. Two further hangars of 1917 were dismantled and await reerection in Bo’ness. A heritage centre interprets the training given here in both world wars inside the Former Station HQ. (tel 01674 678222;

M Watson, 2013


NO75NW 31.00 centred 71795 59399

For airfield defences on map sheet NO76SW see also NO76SW 79.00.

Location formerly entered as centred NO 718 595.

NO75NW 31.01 centred NO 7190 5955 Aircraft Hangars

NO75NW 31.02 NO 7184 5911 Pillbox

NO75NW 31.03 NO 7205 5908 Pillbox

NO75NW 31.04 NO 7206 5917 Pillbox

NO75NW 31.05 c.NO 7251 5929 Pillbox

NO75NW 31.06 c.NO 7286 5948 Pillbox

NO75NW 31.07 c.NO 7305 5971 Pillbox

NO75NW 31.08 NO 7215 5996 Operations Block; Pillbox

NO75NW 31.09 NO 7195 5951 Pillbox

NO75NW 31.10 NO 7132 5894 Pillbox

NO75NW 31.11 NO 7185 5947 Pillbox

NO75NW 31.12 c.NO 7170 5976 Pillbox

NO75NW 31.13 c.NO 7289 5959 Operations Block

NO75NW 31.14 c.NO 7292 5974 Pillbox

NO75NW 31.15 NO 7222 5990 Shooting Butt

NO75NW 31.16 NO 71760 59339 Aircraft Hangar

NO75NW 31.17 NO 71764 59263 Aircraft Hangar

NO75NW 31.18 NO 71828 59464 Building

NO75NW 31.19 NO 71894 59501 Aircraft Hangar

NO75NW 31.20 NO 71821 59436 Guard Room

NO75NW 31.21 NO 71819 59312 Aircraft Hangar

NO75NW 31.22 NO 71782 59414 Aircraft Hangar

NO75NW 31.23 NO 7215 5979 Control Tower

NO75NW 31.24 NO 72252 59899 Pillbox

NO75NW 31.25 centred NO 71858 59535 and NO 71958 59675 Aircraft Hangars (Belfast Truss)

NO75NW 31.26 NO 7199 5958 Pillbox

Air photographs: AAS/97/11/G23/14-15 and AAS/97/11/CT.

NMRS, MS/712/29.

External Reference

Montrose is the oldest military airfield in Scotland, dating back to 1912 and displaying the hangar architecture of several periods. Two Bellman hangars were built to replace those destroyed in an air raid, and still stand today. The original Battle HQ was housed in an elaborate pillbox (NO75NW 31.08), mounting an AA gun on the roof, built into a bridge over a disused railway which runs past the airfield. It was later replaced by a standard building on the eastern perimeter.

After the post-WWII withdrawal of the RAF, the airfield has been used occasionally by light aircraft, by British Airways helicopters for night training and by RAF Hercules aircraft. It is now a centre for microlight flying.

Two of the First World War hangars have been dismantled and re-erected at the railway museum at Bo'ness, West Lothian.

D J Smith 1983; B Quarrie 1987


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