Avenue of trees to mark site of historic wartime ‘runway’

by | Oct 29, 2014 | Featured Slider, News

A Cowley recreation area that played a key role as a makeshift airfield in the Second World War will again be given a “runway”.

More than 1,000 aircraft, including some used in the Battle of Brit-ain, were repaired or dispatched from Herschel Crescent before it was turned into a recreation ground after hostilities ended.

Now 420 trees will be planted to create a “runway” linking Cowley and Littlemore, alongside an £80,000 project to revamp a play area and build a BMX track.

Oxford City Council Labour member for Cowley and Littlemore Parish Council vice-chairman David Henwood said: “It was called the Cowley Airfield and many residents still refer to it as that. We think we need to celebrate its former use and pay homage because the airfield played a really significant part in the war.

“It’s not recognised when it really should be, including the workers from Cowley and Littlemore who prepared these aircraft, such as the Spitfires involved in the Battle of Britain.

“I’m sure many people in the area remember it for that purpose but the younger generation probably don’t, and revisiting that historical part of our heritage is important, especially at this time of year with Remembrance Sunday coming up.”

Before the war the ground was used as an orchard and allotments but in 1947 there was a plan to plough up the site, known as the “Morris Motors flying field”, for cereal production.

Eventually the six-acre site was turned into a recreation ground, with a play area built alongside a football pitch.

The equipment has become worn and to refurbish the area the parish council has raised about £80,000 from a Wren landfill tax grant, developer contributions, Oxfordshire County Council and its own council tax.

Responding to an advert in the Oxford Mail by the Woodland Trust offering to donate trees, Mr Henwood made a bid and was successful.

He secured a mix of trees, including rowan, hawthorn, hazel, silver birch, dogwood and wild cherry, following a theme of “colour all year round”.

It is hoped residents from Cowley and Littlemore will come together next month to plant the trees to symbolise the partnership between the communities.

Mr Henwood said: “As well as symbolising the former use of the field, it will make the project carbon-neutral because we will neutralise the work we do with the play area and the BMX park.”

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