Newsletter 2010

Stow Maries aerodrome

In May 2009 RS Performance, a bespoke performance car and engine constructor, approached MVA for assistance. Originally located at Hoddesdon, Herts, it had recently acquired and moved its business to the former WW1 RAF aerodrome site at Stow Maries, between Maldon and South Woodham Ferrers. This airfield was in its short life (1916-1919) home to 37 (Home Defence) Squadron, Royal Flying Corps and then, after 1st April 1918, 37 Squadron, Royal Air Force. The partners in the business, Russell Savory and Steve Wilson, have a long-standing interest in aviation history and a wish to restore the site as near as possible to its WW1 condition as an historical and wildlife centre. On completion, towards the end of 2010, it is planned that there will be a museum with full-time curator, guided tours and lectures on the site’s history, and a visitor centre for the study of local nature and wildlife.

The approach to the MVA was to ask if we can help with anything in the way of information, documents or artefacts that might be put on display either on temporary loan or permanently, showing a Marconi connection with the site. Our limited enquiries have not yet yielded any such connection. Chris Gardiner dipped into WJ Baker’s 1971 book ‘The History of the Marconi Company’; it seems the use of radio in WW1 was quite significant. By the end of 1915 Marconi was manufacturing transmitting sets for aircraft weighing only 20 pounds. About this time some Marconi engineers were given commissions in the RFC to assist with the radios’ use. By the end of the war the RFC had 600 aeroplanes fitted with radio and 1000 ground stations, and telephony was introduced around 1915 or 1916 for air-to-air transmission . This was only one way, from the leader to his wing, and was partly because of the need for speed of command and partly because the pilot could not manoeuvre the aircraft and operate a Morse key at the same time.

There is reference to 39 Squadron being transferred from North Weald to Biggin Hill in 1917 and the squadron wireless officer, FS Mockford, having to fit the aircraft with radios and train the crews in their use.  The Stow Maries website mentions that its squadron, no.37, relocated from Stow Maries to Biggin Hill in March 1919.  No reference is made of radios but it seems likely that between 1917 and 1919 all the aircraft in 37 and 39 squadrons would have had radios fitted. FS Mockford joined the Marconi Company after WW1.   No mention in any of this of specific Marconi equipment however.

Sopwith PupRS Performance has been made aware of our support to the Sandford Mill industrial museum when questions of where to donate archive material arise, and the Marconi archive/Oxford Science Museum situation has been explained to them.  That said, if any veteran feels able to help RS Performance in any way would they please get in touch directly with Ivor Dallinger,
Curator, Stow Maries Aerodrome, Cold Norton, Essex. Mobile – 07816997125
email –

Anyone interested should look at their informative website,

Sopwith Pup image Mark McEwan and