The Hooton Park Trust (HPT) has received Heritage Lottery Fund grant support of up to £25,800 to conduct an archaeological study on parts of the old Hooton Park airfield site at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire. The grant will allow the trust to develop its knowledge of the history of the historic site.
Using volunteers from Hooton Park, and involving local community groups and schools, the project aims to record and catalogue any finds and to create a permanent display recording the historical context of any finds and the community involvement in the project.
With archaeology being such a specialised subject the HPT has joined forces with Chester-based Big Heritage, which has a proven track record and expertise in projects of this nature. The Hooton Park site has a long aviation history, from 1917 when the hangars were constructed for the Royal Flying Corps up to 1957 when the RAF finally departed. During the course of the project a series of test pits will be dug and participants will have the opportunity to be involved at all stages and receive training from specialists in fields of identifying finds, cleaning, preservation, archiving and displaying.
The HPT was formed in 2000 in response to a request for demolition of the hangars from the then owners Vauxhall Motors. With grant support from English Heritage and generous match-funding from Vauxhall, community landfill tax grants and money raised by the HPT, two of the Belfast truss hangars have undergone significant repairs to the structures and been re-roofed, ensuring their survival for many years to come. The third hangar, which suffered a major collapse in 2011, has been cleared. A total of 34 new trusses, constructed using methods first tested in 1917, have been built and lifted into position. A further £200,000 to complete this programme is being pursued.