Tyne and Wear HER(5570): Gosforth, Grandstand Road, Aircraft Factory - Details
Gosforth, Grandstand Road, Aircraft Factory
Aircraft Engineering Site
An aircraft factory was established at Duke's Moor by Armstrong-Whitworth in 1913. They received contracts to build aircraft under license from the war office. RAF BE.2a machines (biplanes), followed by BE.2b and later BE.2c machines were built. The factory took over the former grandstand of Newcastle racecourse, which had become, after extensive alterations, the Roman Catholic Chadwick Memorial Industrial School for Boys after the town race meeting moved from the town moor to Gosforth in 1882. From 1910 to 1912 the building became a public skating rink. At the outbreak of War in August 1914, the war office instructed Armstrong-Whitworth to extend their works and placed an order for 250 BE.2c Biplanes. An erecting shop and two-bay hangar and a wood store and engine testing shed was built. A concrete platform led to the aerodrome on Duke's Moor. Chief Designer of the factory was Dutchman Frederick Koolhoven. His first plane for Armstrong-Whitworth was the FK.1 which made its maiden flight in September 1914. The plane was never produced however. Between November 1914 and March 1915, 1 Squadron RNAS C Flight was based here, equipped with four Bristol TB.8s. Koolhoven's next plane was the FK.2. A modified version of this, the FK.3 was actually produced from April 1916 and upgraded with a powerful 120 horse power Bearmore engine from June 1914. Armstrong-Whitworth's more successful plane design was the FK.8, a two-seater Corps reconnaissance aircraft. In June 1916 a new aerodrome was established on the town moor. Koolhoven left the company in 1917 and was replaced by F. Murphy. He designed two aircraft - the Armadillo and the Ara but neither made it into production. The Armstrong-Whitworth Air Department closed in October 1919, having made 1075 aircraft. The hangar and former grandstand have gone. A Kwik Fit garage now occupies the site. Part of this is stone built.
<< HER 5570 >> Pers. Comm. A. Malkin, 2003; Dukes Moor Aerodrome, North East Aviation Research (The North East Aircraft Museum research & archive website) www.neaviationresearch.org.uk/Airfields/Histories/DukesMoor.htm