Great Yarmouth – North Denes Airport
North Denes Airport
A Bristow Westland Wessex at North Denes in 1970
|Elevation AMSL||6 ft / 1.8288 m|
North Denes Airport (ICAO: EGSD) is a heliport that is located in the northern suburbs of Great Yarmouth, just off the A149 next to Yarmouth Stadium, formerly used as a base for services to the gas platforms in the southern North Sea. Fixed-wing aircraft were not permitted to use the heliport. The heliport was owned by CHC Helicopter, which operated several AgustaWestland AW139 helicopters.
There had been private fixed-wing flying from North Denes since 1950, but helicopter flying began there on 22 April 1965, with the arrival of a Westland Whirlwind belonging to Bristow Helicopters, which had won the contract to fly personnel and equipment to Gulf Oil's drilling ship Glomar IV operating in the southern North Sea. The number of helicopters operating from there soon rose to six, with a staff of over 50. By the early 1970s Bristow was serving over 30 offshore installations, carrying more than 5,000 passengers a month. Bristow remained the main operator from North Denes, although Trinity House, British Airways, and the search-and-rescue helicopters from RAF Coltishall also flew from there. In 1990 Bristow celebrated 25 years at North Denes, having transported 181,377 passengers, 1,810 bags and 1,356 tons of freight that year. However, in 1997 Bristow began to operate flights from Norwich International Airport and Den Helder in the Netherlands, and in 1999 it relocated its operations entirely to Norwich. Bond Helicopters acquired some of Bristow's contracts, and became the main operator out of North Denes in 2000, before being acquired by CHC Scotia. In 2009, about 30,000 passengers passed through the heliport.
CHC planned to close the heliport in 2011 with operations being moved to Norwich, but backed out of the plan to relocate, and instead invested more than £300,000 at North Denes. However, in 2014 Perenco announced that it was relocating from Great Yarmouth to Norwich, and in early 2015, the heliport was deemed "uneconomical" and "un-viable" by the CHC management in writing to the employees following the loss of Perenco contract and it announced the closure of the facility as an heliport. Redundancies were announced on 2 March 2015 to all staff. The final date of closure was not specified, and with "no plans" announced for future operations in Norfolk, CHC will have no presence in the region. All but three pilots were made redundant as from 31 March 2015.
On April 1st 2015, just 1 day after the effective redundancies, CHC management announced the opening of a new facility based at Norwich International Airport (EGSH). This was a surprise to many of the employees who were laid off just the previous day and who claimed that they were still legally employed as their contracts required three months notice. CHC had negotiated a secret deal to relocate their operations and actively decided not to engage with their employees during redundancy procedures. A legal dispute was lodged and CHC made a payment of £200,000 (out of court) to redundant pilots rather than continue their employment.
The Denes were an extensive beach area on the east side of the walled town. Townsmen let their animals roam here. Also in the area are windmills that had been built since the time of Edward I, and were a source of complaint by the Cinque Ports men, who charged that they interfered with the drying of fishing-nets. In 1277, Edward ordered a limitation on the number of windmills there. This right to dry their nets there was part of the rights of "den and strond" granted the Cinque Ports men by Henry II; the nets were hung from ships' masts.
The beach at North Denes was also used as an area for building ships, while old, derelict ships abandoned there was another source of annoyance to the Portsmen.
- Peggotty (18 June 2015). "Great Yarmouth Heliport launches with a Whirlwind". Great Yarmouth Mercury. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
- "Town's heliport to close next year". East Coast Live. Archived from the original on 1 August 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
- "Great Yarmouth Operations Relocated from North Denes Aerodrome to Norwich International Airport". CHC Helicopter. 16 November 2010. Archived from the original on 7 March 2017. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
- Pullinger, Stephen (20 January 2015). "Great Yarmouth's heliport faces closure with threat to 30 jobs". Great Yarmouth Mercury. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
- "CHC Helicopter opens improved customer facilities in North Denes". Business Airport International. Retrieved 6 March 2017.
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