Unit History: RAF Halton
The first recorded military aviation at Halton took place in 1913 when the then owner of the Halton estate, Alfred de Rothschild invited 3 Squadron of the Royal Flying Corps to conduct manoeuvres on his land. Following a gentleman’s agreement between Alfred de Rothschild and Lord Kitchener, the estate was used by the British Army throughout the First World War. In 1916 the Royal Flying Corps moved its air mechanics school from Farnborough, Hampshire to Halton and in 1917 the school was permanently accommodated in workshops built by German PoWs. The whole estate was purchased by the British Government for the nascent Royal Air Force at the end of the First World War for ?112,000.
In 1919 Lord Trenchard established the No. 1 School of Technical Training at RAF Halton (see aircraft apprentice) which remained at the Station until it moved to RAF Cosford in the early 1990s. Also in 1919, Halton House - a French style mansion built by Lionel de Rothschild - was re-opened as the Station’s Officers’ Mess. Halton House continues to be used as the Station’s principal Officers’ Mess.
Princess Mary’s RAF Hospital Halton was opened in 1927 as a large military hospital. In 1995 the Hospital closed and although the buildings still stand, they are derelict and the surrounding married quarters have been sold off for private housing.
During World War II RAF Halton continued its training role. Additionally, 112 Squadron and 402 Squadron of the Royal Canadian Air Force were based at Halton for part of the War.
In July 1952 the uncrowned Queen Elizabeth II performed one of her first duties as Sovereign by presenting a colour to Number 1 School of Technical Training; the first to be awarded to an apprentice school, and the first ever to be presented to an ’other rank’ when Sergeant Apprentice Hines, of the 63rd Entry, received the colour from Her Majesty.
When Number 1 School of Technical Training relocated to RAF Cosford in 1990, they took over guardianship of the Queen’s Colour, and on 31 October 1997 Her Majesty presented RAF Halton with its second colour. RAF Halton was the first and only station to be granted the dignity of two Queen’s colours.
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