Beverleys leave RAF Abingdon 50 years ago today

December 6, 2017

Thanks to Malcolm for this report from 6th December 1967.
Blackburn Beverley
Many older Abingdon residents will remember the Blackburn Beverley. These huge aeroplanes arrived at RAF Abingdon in March 1956 and were the biggest aircraft to go into RAF service at the time.

There were only three pilots qualified to fly them at the base so an intensive training programme started to supply aircrew for the two UK squadrons, both based at Abingdon. Residents of a certain age, especially those in the north of the town, will remember the ‘bumps and circuits’ carried out both day and night in the early days of service.

53 Squadron was amalgamated into 47 Squadron in 1963 and the latter was disbanded on 31st October 1967. The last two Beverleys departed Abingdon on the 6th December 1967 which is when the attached pictures were taken. I was a member of the local ATC squadron and myself and a friend were cadet ‘jollyriders’ who scrounged a lift.
Blackburn Beverley
The flightpath took the pair around the Isle of Wight – the air to air shot is over the Solent – with formation flypasts en-route over RAF Upavon (headquarters of Air Support Command at the time) and RAF Odiham.
Blackburn Beverley
These were followed by farewell flypasts over Abingdon – the approach lights can be seen in the final image – before landing at RAF Shawbury, where the two aeroplanes were handed to 27 MU and eventually the scrapman.

Filed under: heritage

7 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Deedee  |  December 6, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    Apologies for highjackin this amazing thread, (I had no idea these monsters were based here) but I’ve just st walked through town at 7.30pm and it’s absolutely grid locked!
    What on earth is wrong with our traffic system when one can’t get either in or out of the town centre when the shops are closed?
    While here and in the subject of town traffic etc how does the owner of the Pink Range Rover get away with parking on double yellow lines in West St Helens all day long? And, how come the owner of the hairdresser Mod 31 get away with using the loading bay outside his shop as his personal parking bay?
    Moan over

  • 2. Peter Del  |  December 6, 2017 at 9:46 pm

    Great shots Malcolm. If you’re local and still taking pictures, the local Camera Club will meet this Thursday in the Methodist Hall behind the Boundary House pub. Come and join in the fun.

    Deedee, because we don’t have a street parking warden!

  • 3. Tim  |  December 6, 2017 at 10:28 pm

    Not just Abingdon residents who remember these (although I was later to become a resident for many years) These aircraft were the aircraft that gave first flights for many an air cadet. I distinctly remember, probably around the early 60’s as a member of an Oxford Air Cadet unit, (150?) jumping aboard one of these Beverleys at Abingdon on a visit. So many of us were keen to partake of our first flight that an excess number had boarded and our aircraft reversed its props to back up and dump a few. Your mention of the Isle of Wight rings a bell as the route we flew.
    As a kid around Oxford area, it was Beverley’s from Abingdon and B47s from Brize Norton that dominated the skies.

  • 4. Dave  |  December 7, 2017 at 9:16 am

    Malcolm, thanks for the interesting piece on the Beverley based at RAF Abingdon.

  • 5. Janet  |  December 7, 2017 at 10:47 am

    The Army took over RAF Abingdon and are due to leave Dalton Barracks. The area has already been designated a huge housing estate. There is the answer for you Deedee. Developers have been building in and around the Abingdon area and no road infrastructure has been put in place to take all the extra cars. The worse development will be the over 1000 houses planned to be built in North Abingdon. Permission has been given for 250 to be build, (and more will no doubt follow on) before a diamond interchange is put in place to divert traffic from North Abingdon onto the Southbound A34. This will lead to the March Interchange and the Tesco roundabout being log jammed with the extra traffic. Sorry Deedee. Worse is to come.

  • 6. Badger  |  December 7, 2017 at 11:00 am

    What an excellent post and superb pics too.
    I’m sure there are those who are glad Abingdon’s flying days are pretty much over but personally I’d rather it was an airfield than a housing estate any day.

  • 7. Brian  |  December 10, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    I did my para course in Abingdon in 65 part of the course was the balloon jump from a hole in the floor of the gondola, it was supposed to prepare you for jumping from the tail section of the Beverley (which I’m glad to say I never had to do) the jump from the balloon floor was the worst part of training as it was a cold blooded silent drop though the floor into the unknown, and if any one failed the course by refusing to “go” on command, it was the floor of the balloon which was the crippler.
    When I served up country in Aden we used the Beverley for transport where the runway was long enough to land and take off. I was lucky just about all my later jumps were from the Hastings and once the Andover, which was the most comfortable aircraft I parachuted from, over Bahrain later in the 60’s.
    In later years I worked with Malcolm in the famous German company that employs a lot of locals. At Miele I also worked closely with our man in Scotland J H Cunningham, it was not until my retirement “do” in 2002 that John and I realised we had met years before about 1964 when I was casavaqued from Libya after having had an accident in the desert, JHC was part of the crew of the Argosy that took me to RAF Hospital in Cyprus, so he had been in charge of the casualties on board and looked after our wellbeing. Small World we live in.

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