Hardwick Hall

Discussion in 'Airborne' started by Drew5233, Jun 17, 2012.

  1. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Are there any or many pictures of the place when it was being used by the Airborne Community in WW2.

    I pass it quite a lot on the M1 and its not that far from where I live-I have often thought if it was possible to do some 'Then and Nows'.
     
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  2. Guy Hudson

    Guy Hudson Looker-upper

    I visited recently and there is no mention of the Airborne at Hardwick Hall. The camp was in the fields below the Hall. The original war time fencing is still evident behind the old hall. When the ponds were drained after the war they were full of bikes, not sure if they were the BSA folding para bike, that would have been quite a find?
    Part of the Hall was home to evacuees. An evacuee was playing with a grenade and it went off, he lost his arm and another child was wounded. He had visited the Hall recently and showed the guide some shrapnel that was still in his foot!
    There is also an annual Airborne march past, bit I am not sure of the date?
    Guy
     
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  3. ranville

    ranville Senior Member

    I visited recently and there is no mention of the Airborne at Hardwick Hall. The camp was in the fields below the Hall. The original war time fencing is still evident behind the old hall. When the ponds were drained after the war they were full of bikes, not sure if they were the BSA folding para bike, that would have been quite a find?
    Part of the Hall was home to evacuees. An evacuee was playing with a grenade and it went off, he lost his arm and another child was wounded. He had visited the Hall recently and showed the guide some shrapnel that was still in his foot!
    There is also an annual Airborne march past, bit I am not sure of the date?
    Guy

    Last time i visited there was a plaque on a wall within the hall's grounds, commemorating the Airborne's role there.
     
  4. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Theres a picture of the plaque in ATB's 2 Vol's of D-Day or Op Market Garden.

    Anyone got any pictures then?
     
  5. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Here's a picture of the plaque and a modern shot of Hardwick Hall itself. I've never seen a pic of the wartime era camp itself.

    Hardwick Hall-1.jpg Plaque-Hardwick-1 .jpg Plaque-Hardwick-3.jpg

    Edit: Added images gone missing.
     
  6. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Cheers Cee

    Tut tut tut looks like the ABC community has failed to deliver again :lol:
     
  7. wtid45

    wtid45 Very Senior Member

    Attached Files:

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  8. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi

    I live near Hardwick Hall. Visited regularly as a kid in the 70s and 80s. It's only the last 6 months that I've taken interest in its involvement during WW2. As it's been mentioned the Hall and its Natural Trust website don't mention anything about the Airborne Forces Depot and the Satelite Landng Ground. I attended the Parachute Regiment Memorial Day in May this year which isn't mentioned on the website.
    There is info on the net and stories of the time but the only photos are those on paradata.org.uk and these are don't show the layout of the camp.
    I have managed to find a book about the Hall which has a RAF photo of the camp and airfield which I will upload later.
    There are no buildings left but signs of the camp include red bricks, concrete, perimeter fencing and broken crockery.
     
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  9. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi

    I've uploaded the scan of a pic from a book about Hardwick Hall. Just says it is an official RAF photo. Both camp and airfield were set up in 1941 but the airfield was handed over to Airborne forces so I guess photo was post '43 with the lack of aircraft.
    The camp now is Google maps. You can pick individual trees and fenced in trees that were there in the '40s. I have been told the Army were not allowed to chop trees down!
    You can see a trail from the ponds near the bottom that I'm sure is part of the assault course after reading a veteran's account of it.

    Next thing is to try and identify specific buildings: officer's blocks, gymnasium, hospital, cinema, chapel, workshops and garages.

    Glen
     

    Attached Files:

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  10. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Glen,

    Thanks for filling us in, the aerials are great! Going through a folder I came across a couple of pics showing several of the ponds on the Hardwick Hall grounds. The drainage ponds look like the ones situated close to the area of the old camp. Not sure about the other pond though?

    Hardwick-5 Ponds.jpg Hardwick-Large Pond.jpg

    I'll add a couple of snips from Google Maps showing the full extent of grounds.

    Capture-1.JPG Capture-2.JPG

    I'm not sure why but I always confused Tatton Park with Hardwick Hall which were both used by the Airborne during the war, but for very different purposes.

    Regards ....
     
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  11. squeakyclean

    squeakyclean Member

    I believe the bikes that were found when the pond was drained were actually civilians bikes; the story goes that lads would drink in the town then pinch a bike to ride back to camp, to save on any theft charges they'd then chuck the bike in the pond and off to bed... :)

    I've visited the area many times and walked through the areas where the camp was located, nothing significant remains unfortunately.

    Matt
     
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  12. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi

    I've managed to borrow a folder from the Park Visitor Centre. Most of it was put together for a display to commemorate the 60th anniversary of D-Day in 2004. There was a framed photographic display that someone has took photos of and printed out. I've scanned these and tried to enhance them.
    I've been after photos of the camp for the last year so was really chuffed to see these and I can recognise where they were taken.

    img004 - Copy.jpg
    This is a photocopy of a photo so not great clarity but you can see camp buildings to the right, in particularly the long row of eight garages.

    img013a.jpg
    This is the 'trapeze' and the description says the Row Ponds (Five drainage ponds) are in the background.

    img016a.jpg
    I'm sure this is looking the opposite way so it is able to pinpoint the location from the Row Ponds and the buildings seen.

    img014a.jpg
    I'm sure in the background are the garages as I've read they had one of these practice fuselages in one.

    img017a.jpg
    Log training. Still trying to locate this area.

    I'll post a few more later.

    Something new I've read is that the government wanted the camp removed altogether and offered to dredge the lakes in the 1970s finding 633 bicycles and 4 motorbikes.

    Glen
     
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  13. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi

    I found another aerial photo from the link below which shows at the top right where the balloon basket drop and the parachute tower were. You can see the tower's shadow.
    http://www.airfieldresearchgroup.org.uk/forum/derbyshire-airfields/790-hardwick-park

    HardwickCamp11Aug45.jpg

    img012a.jpg

    img011a.jpg
    PT on the top of the slope. The camp is down the slope past the parachutes and looking west you can see Pilsley Colliery and the spoil tip behind the third parachute.

    img018a.jpg
    Swimming Instruction in Millers Pond. This is the far end from the Visitor's Centre. The camp is over the slope in the background. Surprised there was room in there with all the bikes!

    I can't understand why there is so little information about the camp available to the public. There have been displays in the past but hundreds of visitors to the Hall and even the website won't be aware of Hardwick's WW2 heritage.

    I'll post a few photos of what's left later.

    Glen
     
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  14. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Thanks Glen!
     
  15. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Those are great Glen. Your number 2 photo is similar to this one which I assume is at Hardwick also?

    Tapeze-1.jpg Tapeze-2.jpg

    Regards ...
     
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  16. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi

    Yes Cee, that is Hardwick, photo has been taken at a lower position. Noticing the ground conditions reminds me of this extract from 'The Red Beret' by Hilary Saunders:

    '... and the grass verges surrounding the huts churned into glutinous mud by the constant passage of wheelbarrows, vehicles and human feet. The roads winding through the camp so narrow that nowhere could two vehicles pass each other without swerving off on to the grass to the accompaniment of blasts on their horns, high revvings in low gears, advice and cursings from drivers and passers-by'.

    I've posted a scan of a photocopy of a photo that was in the folder. The label underneath read, '1. Airfields of the RAF in the United Kingdom 1941, Hardwick No. 37, 31st August 1941.'

    img008 - Copy - Copy.jpg

    Planes landed from the right which is nearly north. I've read it was 1000 yards long but the land slopes down to the right of the photo and the flattish land is around 800 yards. The airstrip opened in May '41 and the first aircraft to fly in were Boulton Paul Defiants which arrived on 29 September 1941. Other types recorded as stored here include Miles M.14 Magister, De Havilland Dominie (the armed forces' renamed Dragon Rapide) and Bristol Blenheim. Photo's from August '41 hence no aircraft. I'm desperate to find photos with actual aircraft in place.

    More info I've found about the airfield from 'Feb 1999, The Ashfield Historian Vol VII No 1 by Cecil Hill:

    ' To the rear of the Hall, on a large flattish area of grassland, a grass runway was planned, or perhaps not planned but found only suitable for the use of small aircraft as the land available was not long enough for anything bigger, certainly not for troop carrying aircraft. Even to construct this short runway an avenue of trees, called because of its shape, the Wine Glass, had to be cut down.' (Look carefully at the photo and you can see the stumps of the lime trees planted 20 years before).
    ' After their initial training and drops from the tower, which stood on that area of land called Blingsbys, and from the balloon which was moored nearby, the troops were taken to Ringway Aerodrome, Manchester, to emplane for their aircraft drops over Hardwick Park. What a wonderful sight it was to see them under their different coloured parachutes floating down to the ground. The problem with dropping troops at Hardwick was that a lot of them landed in the ponds or in the trees. The grass runway at the back of the Hall was made level and smooth by using two huge agricultural ploughing steam engines, one at each end of the runway and instead of pulling a plough backwards and forwards between them on their endless cables they trundled a very heavy roller to and fro instead.'

    Glen
     
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  17. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi

    Here's a few 'now' photos from September last year:

    2015-09-18 02.jpg
    This is Blingsby Gate as you would enter the camp.

    2015-09-18 03.jpg
    Buildings to the left were mainly for officers.

    2015-09-18 04.jpg
    There was probably a Guards' building to the right.

    2015-09-18 05.jpg
    This is roughly where a road entered the camp.

    2015-09-18 06.jpg
    One of the few signs of remains. This concrete base is next to the road. You can't park on the road through the grounds until you reach the Hall car park. Anyone visiting the camp would be better parking in the Park Visitor Centre.

    I'll post more later.
     
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  18. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    More 'now' pics:

    2015-09-18 12.jpg

    There was another road down to the camp from the main road just before the left hand bend.

    2015-09-18 14.jpg

    There are two of these man-holes but as they weren't close to buildings they were not bulldozed.

    2015-09-18 15.jpg

    Builders weren't allowed to remove any trees, these five trees can be clearly seen on the overhead photo.

    2015-09-18 16.jpg

    This is the road (track) up from the Visitor Centre to the Row Ponds. On the other side of the fence was the row of eight large garages.

    2015-04-21 16.11.20.jpg

    A little further along from the five trees is another lot and one of them has grown around a fence post.

    Cheers
     
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  19. BruceLee230

    BruceLee230 Active Member

    Hi

    Made a mistake identifying the setting of one of the photos.

    img011a.jpg

    I'd been trying to compare the fields in the background with the view today and now know it is Holmewood Colliery and spoil tip, a little further north. The soldiers are in the field to the right of the main road before Blingsby Gate; the entrance to the camp. Makes sense as the field is quite big and the jump tower and balloon were in the field the other side of the road.

    I've read that soldiers used to go to the Holmewood chippy with bread and have them batter and fry it because they were hungry.

    Glen
     
  20. Cee

    Cee Senior Member Patron

    Glen,

    Some of my vague notions about the Hardwick Hall Depot have certainly been cleared up by your contributions. A couple items from the 1987 Dedication Ceremony. I forget now where I pulled these from?

    Dedication Clipping.jpg Dedication Ceremony Ticket.jpg

    Regards ...
     
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