RAF Jurby

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RAF Jurby
Ensign of the Royal Air Force.svg
Logo RAF Jurby.jpg
IATA: noneICAO: none
Airport type Military
Owner Air Ministry
Operator Royal Air Force
Location Jurby, Isle of Man
Built 1938 (1938)
In use 1939-1963 (1963)
Elevation AMSL 85 ft / 26 m
Coordinates 54°21′09″N 4°30′29″W / 54.35250°N 4.50806°W / 54.35250; -4.50806Coordinates: 54°21′09″N 4°30′29″W / 54.35250°N 4.50806°W / 54.35250; -4.50806
RAF Jurby is located in Isle of Man
RAF Jurby
RAF Jurby
Location in Isle of Man
Direction Length Surface
ft m
07/25 (originally 08/26) 3,818 (4,799) 1,164 (1,463) Concrete
16/34 (disused) 2,969 905 Concrete

Royal Air Force Station Jurby or more simply RAF Jurby was a former Royal Air Force station built in the north west of the Isle of Man. It was opened in 1939 on 400 acres (1.6 km2) of land acquired by the Air Ministry in 1937, under the control of No. 29 Group, RAF. During World War II the station was used for training as No 5 Armament Training Station, No 5 Air Observer School, No 5 Bombing & Gunnery School, and the Air Navigation & Bombing School, in addition to a variety of operational squadrons.[1]

Jurby was originally a grass airfield but was later equipped with hard runways. Operationally it helped protect Belfast and Liverpool from German air raids. RAF Jurby closed in 1963.

The main East/West runway is bisected by a road, from when the runway was extended after the end of World War II to be able to accept Viscount turboprop airliners. As the existing road was in the way, the runway was extended over it. To facilitate its use, barriers were placed across the road and the road was closed whilst the runway was in use.

During the 1950s and 60s the No 1 Directorate of Initial Officer Training (DIOT) was based at RAF Jurby, jokingly referred to by the trainee cadets as the "Camp on Blood Island".


A student observer contemplates his 'office' in the nose of a Hampden before embarking on an early-morning flight at No 5 Air Observers School at Jurby on the Isle of Man, January 1942.
The Defence Regiment, led by the stations pipe band, march past Admiral Percy Noble at Jurby RAF Station, Isle of Man. The Airspeed Envoy aircraft in which the Commander in Chief flew to the Isle of Man can be seen in the background.

09/39 to 02/44, No 5 Bombing and Gunnery School with Fairey Battle, Bristol Blenheim and Wallace aircraft.

07/41, Renamed No 5 Air Observer School, with Avro Anson, Hawker Henley and Handley Page Hampdens. 307 Sqn Boulton Paul Defiants here autumn 1940.

01/41 to 03/42, 258, 302 and 312 Sqns with Hawker Hurricanes.

08/41 to 03/42, 457 Sqn with Supermarine Spitfires, these were also detached to RAF Andreas.

02/44 to 09/46, Air Navigation and Bombing School with Ansons and Vickers Wellingtons. 5/45, Renamed No 5 Air Navigation School, moved to RAF Topcliffe.

09/46 to 10/47, No 11 Air Gunnery School from Andreas. Airfield then on care and maintenance.

04/50 to 07/53, No 1 Initial Training School.

09/53 to 09/63, Officer Cadet Training Unit from Millom.

02/64 to /72, After RAF closure used as a diversion airfield for RAF Ronaldsway.

Post-RAF and Current use[edit]

Recent photo of original Control Tower

The airfield is in part still usable. Many of the airfield buildings on the northern side of the Ballamenagh Road were demolished in the mid to late 2000's and only the [1] road and path layouts exist alongside foundations. During the early 1970s the camp area of the airfield was used as a training camp for the Territorial Army.

One of the original wooden buildings that formed the officers mess survived until December 2009. Having been built in 1938 to last for just 10 years it was converted in the 1960s to a hotel, the Jurby Hotel.[2] Plans were announced in 2009 to build a new health centre on the site [3] and the Jurby Health and Community Centre opened in January 2012[4]

Many of the original hangars can still be seen on the south side of the Ballamenagh Road though have been re-clad with more modern materials. This area received a £2m government injection to fund a new main entrance with resurfaced roads in 2008 and is known as the Jurby Industrial Estate.[5] Other buildings including the Control Tower and the increasingly rare timber buildings survive in various states of disrepair, some of which date back to 1939. In September 2013 planning permission was submitted for the timber clad and asbestos roofed Old Guards House to be developed into a cafe and restaurant. The planning includes replacing the exterior to look like-for-like and replace the interior except the male urinals.[6] Other buildings remain in use other uses including the largest hangar which is home to lorry and large vehicle mechanics.

In late 1982, a newly demerged airship company (Wren Skyships) relocated to Jurby airfield from Cardington in Bedfordshire. The firm began work on a new design, the Advanced Non-Rigid (ANR). Wren Skyships became the Advanced Airship Corporation (AAC) in 1988. Construction of the prototype ANR was commenced, but envelope problems delayed its completion, and AAC went into liquidation during the early 1990s recession.[7] The prototype gondola was moved to a site in Shropshire after liquidation of AAC and now exists in a museum in the Netherlands.[8] Some parts were stored for some time in a hangar on the airfield site and more recently re-located to the Manx Transport Museum which opened in Jurby in 2009. The large hangar built for the airship was removed and the base of the building is now home to a go-kart track.

The Manx Gliding Club formed at Jurby Airfield in the early 1990s with a single Slinsby T53. Gliding had initially taken place by the Royal Air Force at RAF Jurby during the 1950s flying Slingsby T31's & T21's. After the RAF left Jurby gliding on the island had discontinued. The club was renamed the Islanders Gliding Club and joing the British Gliding Association in the 1990s. Additional funds were spent on winches, ground equipment, additional aircraft such as an Auster and a Ka2b. Due to high rents at Jurby the club soon moved on to a small airfield at Hall Caine and then to Andreas Airfield and thus regular flying activity ceased again at Jurby.[9]

The Isle of Man prison was re-located to Jurby Airfield in 2008 from a dilapidated Victorian building in Douglas.Minister opens new prison at Jurby - Isle of Man Public Services The prison is built within the airfield site with the entrance road cutting through the otherwise untouched western taxiway.[10]

The airfield had been used for an annual airshows until 2004. Since its inaugural event in 2009, the airfield has been home home to the annual Jurby Festival of Speed which takes place on the middle Sunday of the Islands Classic TT (formerly Grand Prix) fortnight. Although not an airshow, the 2012 festival received a flypast from a Spitfire and a C-47 Dakota in 2013. The main events of the day are a bike rally and friendly races around the "course" which takes in sections of the runway, taxiway and perimeter track. Attendance to the site has reached 10,000 people.[11] Motor Sports are able to make use of the airfield course all year round.

One of the re-clad original RAF hangars (one of four RAF Bellman hangars) is home to the facilities of Excalibur Almaz whos office base is in Douglas, the capital of the Isle of Man. In 2007 the company bought two Soviet Spacecraft for temporary storage with the intention of launching passenger trips to space by 2013 (launching from a former CIS-state rather than the Isle of Man).[12] The craft were imported into the Isle of Man in 2011 and are Reusable Return Vehicles which, as their name suggests, are designed to be used more than once.[13]

Another of the re-clad Bellman hangars (Hangar 230) has been home to the free-entry Jurby Transport Museum since 2010. The museum is home to many buses and trams that have formed part of the islands public transport network for many years. In keeping with their aviation surroundings, there are the airship parts mentioned above, a spitfire replica and a glider kept in pieces in the back storage yard.

There is a business located on the airfield since 1972. Jurby Junk was set up in 1972 in the old armoury on the airfield site. The business was later moved into two purpose built warehouse units with one half dedicated to books. The business has been since inception by Stella Pixton who is the daughter of Howard Pixton - the first British winner of the Schneider Trophy Air race in 1914.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ "RAF Jurby". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 25 September 2012. 
  2. ^ "North loses landmark as Jurby Hotel is flattened". Isle of Man Newspapers. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  3. ^ http://www.gov.im/transport/drainage/ViewNews.gov?page=lib/news/dhss/dhsstodelivernew.xml&menuid=11570
  4. ^ http://isleofman.isle-news.com/archives/gp-services-to-commence-at-jurby-health-and-community-centre/13356/
  5. ^ http://www.iomtoday.co.im/news/isle-of-man-news/163-2m-development-for-jurby-industrial-estate-1-1770050
  6. ^ "Planning permissions Sept 20 2013". Isle of Man Newspapers. 20 September 2013. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  7. ^ Mowforth, Edwin (2007). An introduction to the Airship (3rd ed.). London: he Airship Association. ISBN 0-9528578-6-3. 
  8. ^ Leyfeldt, Antony. "Airship ANR-1 G-MAAC". 
  9. ^ Manx Gliding http://www.manxgliding.org/features/glidinghistory/
  10. ^ "Jurby Prison under construction 2006". Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  11. ^ http://www.isleofman.com/News/details/25997/festival-of-jurby-this-weekend-could-attract-10-000-people
  12. ^ "Manx company buys Soviet spacecraft". Isle of Man Newspapers. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  13. ^ "Jurby: the final frontier". Isle of Man Newspapers. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 


  • Jefford, C.G, MBE,BA ,RAF (Retd). RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 1988. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.

External links[edit]