Omega’s bustling wartime past
The 575 acre Omega site was formerly the site of RAF Burtonwood, occupied by the RAF, US Air Force and US army from 1940 – 1993.
The airfield played a key logistical role in World War II as the largest airfield in Europe with the biggest air maintenance facility and once hosted an American community of 18,000 who lived and worked there. It is thought that when the site is completed there will be the same number people living and working on the site as then.
The site played a particularly key role in WWII for aircraft assembly, maintenance and repair. Aircraft and equipment would be shipped in via Liverpool docks and reassembled for operational use at Burtonwood whilst battle-damaged aircraft would be returned to the site for repair.
Its key period of activity was from 1942, when the United States Army Air Forces first took occupancy, until the late 1950’s. The airbase fell into disrepair thereafter but was used as a US military storage facility during the Cold War years until as late as 1991, when supplies from the base were sent out to the Gulf War.
Remembering RAF Burtonwood’s heritage
Omega Warrington Ltd (OWL) is keen to preserve the military heritage of the site throughout the new development. As well as preserving ‘Pickett-Hamilton Fort’ (a rare underground fortification), it is looking to bring back the site’s proud past through the memorial naming of its buildings and roads.
In August 2013, the RAF Burtonwood Association joined OWL and partners to celebrate the completion of the new £7m access road on Omega North and its commemorative naming as ‘Lockheed Road’ – named after the major United States aircraft manufacturer. Lockheed built a number of aircraft that played key roles in WWII notably the P38 Lightning fighter plane, Hudson and Ventura bombers. Lockheed also manufactured under license a number of Boeing B17 Flying Fortress bombers many of which were assembled and repaired at the base.
Skyline Drive, named after the officers’ club on Burtonwood Airbase, is also now open to the public. The new £8m access road on Omega South will provide traffic relief for Burtonwood Road and Lingley Green Avenue and allow Omega traffic and that from Lingley Mere Business Park and the Royal Mail depot to access junction 8 of the M62 through the Omega development.
More heritage naming will follow – watch this space.
Welcoming WWII US veterans to Omega
In May 2014, RAF Burtonwood Association hosted 40 first generation US WWII veterans in the UK for a week long of commemorative events. One such event was a tour around the Omega site followed by traditional English afternoon tea at the Memphis Belle public house with entertainment by 1940s swing singer, Miss Marie.
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Roy Thorpe – Apps, UK President of RAF Burtonwood said:
“We are pleased to see that the very significant history of the site is not being forgotten. It was an immensely important site in the 1940s and beyond and a hive of industry. It’s great that the people of Warrington will again see jobs and activity on this site.
“At the RAF Burtonwood Association, with 800 members around the UK and overseas, we work hard to preserve this part of Warrington’s heritage. We would encourage anyone with an interest in this site’s past to visit the Burtonwood Heritage Centre where our enthusiastic volunteers can tell you all about the bustling life for many on this site.” Membership is open to anyone with an interest in RAF Burtonwood and the significant impact the air base had on Warrington.
To visit the RAF Burtonwood Association website click here
To visit the RAF Burtonwood Heritage Centre website click here
RAF Burtonwood Association event and opening of Lockhead Road
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