Following the post-war release of Tatenhill aerodrome by the RAF to the Duchy of Lancaster’s tenants in c1953, it was disused for a few years, The Burton-Newborough road (B5234), which traverses the site, had been closed ‘for the duration’ and was reopened in May 1954.
In 1959 the Burton upon Trent based Ind Coope brewery, who had a fleet of executive aircraft based at Burnaston airfield, acquired the lease to Tatenhill and transferred its operations there. On the north-east side of the perimeter track the company erected a remodelled, re-used Bellman hanger with a new control tower and office suite attached. At first only the eastern two-thirds of runway 08/26 was used. The other runways deteriorated rapidly and were used only occasionally. Runway 16/34 became disused very quickly while 04/22 was soon suitable for light aircraft only. Runway 08/26 was later extended to its present length of 1200m (1312 yds). A radar facility was erected at the convergence of 08/26 and 16/34 to deal with the dense winter fogs encountered over the Needwood Forest.
At commencement of operations Ind Coope transferred Captain David Lancaster (ex-RAF Fighter pilot) from Manchester to Tatenhill to become Chief Pilot. Captain Wally Evans DFC was appointed as his no. 2, with Chief Engineer Terry McCarthy completing the team. In 1961 Dave Moon replaced Terry McCarthy and he remained as Chief Engineer throughout, taking retirement in 1985. The team were joined by Captain Laurie Walford (ex-RAF) in 1968, who went on to became Chief Pilot upon David Lancaster’s retirement. At its height the company had five pilots on site. At various times the brewery owned several executive aircraft based at Tatenhill including:
G-APCZ de Havilland 104 Dove
G-ARDE de Havilland 104 Dove 6
G-ASNO Beech B55 Baron
Beech B 58 Baron
S-ASru Beech 865-A80 Queen Air
G-ASXV Beech 865-A80 Queen Air
G-BCUZ Beech King Air 200
By the end of its operation the company had a Beechcraft King Air 90 and a Beechcraft King Air 200.
A highlight for all the staff at Tatenhill was a visit by HM the Queen in 1982 who, after visiting the Duchy of Lancaster estates in the Needwood Forest, flew out from the airfield in a Royal Flight aircraft. Laurie Walford, Dave Moon and other members of the team were presented to her before she departed.
The wartime watch tower became derelict during this period and was considered structurally unsafe. Concern was expressed that children using it as a playground might be injured and it was demolished in 1982/3.
The years 1984-5 saw large cutbacks at Allied Breweries which resulted in the closure of operations at Tatenhill in July 1985. The workforce, including Laurie Walford and Dave Moon, were made redundant and the aircraft sold. Thus ended a period of over 25 years private flying from the airfield.
Based mainly on information from Laurie Walford, Dave Moon and Fay Insley employed at that time by Ind Coope. AMWD plan nos. 13726/41 and 15683/41.
See also: www.watsonlv.net/tatenhill.shtml