Out in force: Omega’s aviation heritage celebrated with new road naming

RAF Burtonwood Association and Omega partners come together to remember

Historians and developers alike were out in force yesterday to celebrate the completion of the new £7m access road on Omega North, which is being named to commemorate its RAF, US Air Force and US Army history. ‘Lockheed Road’, named after the major United States aircraft manufacturer, will open up access to Omega North, signifying a new dawn for the site whilst also reflecting its active war-time, and post-war, military use.

The 575 acre Omega site, located on both sides of the M62, 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 fully developed, there will be the same number of people living and working on the site as in its airbase hay day.

The historic location is now Omega, the North West’s largest strategic employment site. With one logistics unit just completed for Brakes, another well underway for Hermes, and another about to start for Travis Perkins, around 1400 jobs will be supported on the site through this trio of development – and more is in the pipeline. Only two smaller plots remain for development on Omega North with strong interest in both plots. Lockheed Road will serve all new businesses on Omega North.

Neil Johnston, Director at Miller Developments and Partner in Omega Warrington Ltd said:

“Our commitment to the Omega site is long-term and as such it seemed only fitting that the new future for Omega should pay homage to its heritage. It was an impressive site back then in terms of making a valuable contribution to the war effort and Omega Warrington Ltd is very happy that we are injecting life back into the site once more. We have a lot to live up to with the number of jobs supported during the site’s aviation life; however we have made good progress over the last year and will continue to work hard to bring a whole range of jobs to Warrington.”

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.

Councillor Terry O’Neill, Leader of Warrington Borough Council said:

“Burtonwood airfield served as a key logistics base for the British and US Military for over 50 years. It played a pivotal role during the Second World War and during the Berlin Airlift. In its new life as Omega it makes an interesting comparison to see part of the site once again returning to its logistics roots albeit during, thankfully, more peaceful times. It is fitting that we remember and commemorate the site’s historic past by naming the new road after aircraft manufacturer Lockheed.”

The site’s key period of military 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.

Roy Thorpe – Apps, UK President of RAF Burtonwood said:

“We were delighted to be invited to celebrate today with the Omega team and 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.

Neil Pickering, Head of Area – Liverpool City Region, Warrington and Cheshire for the Homes and Communities Agency, the landowner said:

“It’s wonderful to see the Omega project sustaining the momentum of private sector investment that has been built up over the last year. The site has a bright future and will provide huge opportunities for the people of Warrington. However, I think it is important to respect and remember the past, especially at a site with such a unique heritage, so the road name is very fitting and thoughtful”.