Winter Hill air disaster

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Winter Hill air disaster
Bristol 170.21 G-AGVC Silver City Ringway 29.05.55.jpg
A Bristol Freighter Mark 21 of Silver City Airways at Manchester Airport
Accident summary
Date 27 February 1958
Summary Controlled flight into terrain
Site Winter Hill, England
53°37′44″N 2°30′47″W / 53.629°N 2.513°W / 53.629; -2.513Coordinates: 53°37′44″N 2°30′47″W / 53.629°N 2.513°W / 53.629; -2.513
Passengers 39
Crew 3
Fatalities 35
Injuries (non-fatal) 7
Survivors 7
Aircraft type Bristol Type 170 Freighter
Operator Silver City Airways
Registration G-AICS
Flight origin Ronaldsway Airport
Destination Manchester Airport

The Winter Hill air disaster occurred on 27 February 1958 when the Silver City Airways Bristol 170 Freighter G-AICS, traveling from the Isle of Man to Manchester, England, crashed into Winter Hill (also known as Rivington Moor) several hundred yards away from the Independent Television Authority's Winter Hill transmitting station.[1]

Thirty-five people died and seven were injured.[2] The ICAO report[3] states that the accident occurred at 09.15 in the morning. At this time, the weather was so severe that none of the engineers working in the ITA transmitting station were aware of the crash.[4] Several feet of snow hampered rescue efforts, and a snow cat vehicle had to be diverted from the A6 to cut a path for emergency vehicles though the track had been cleared by people using spades by the time it arrived.


The flight was essentially a charter flight from Ronaldsway Airport in the Isle of Man to Manchester Ringway Airport for a group of mainly Motor Traders to visit the Manchester Exide Battery Factory and Manchester car show.[5]


Memorial Plaque at the crash site

The Silver City Airways Bristol 170 Freighter G-AICS, call sign "Charlie Sierra", was due to fly from Ronaldsway Airport, Ballasalla, on the Isle of Man to an aircraft reporting point at Squire's Gate about 3 miles (4.8 km) from Blackpool. The aircraft was flown by Captain Cairnes at an altitude of 1,500 feet (460 m) due to low cloud and other air traffic in the Manchester area. After gaining clearance from air-traffic control at Manchester Ringway Airport, Captain Cairnes flew "Charlie Sierra" inland to Wigan Beacon, a non-directional beacon in the Manchester Zone, which transmitted a recognition signal of "MYK" in morse code on a frequency of 316 kHz and a range of about 25 miles (40 km).[5] Due to a number of navigation errors in respect to the radio compass bearings and altitude readings, the Silver City Bristol Freighter crashed near the summit of Winter Hill, five miles (8 km) south-east of Chorley, Lancashire at 9:45 am on 27 February 1958.

PROBABLE CAUSE: The error of the first officer in tuning the radio compass on Oldham Beacon instead of on Wigan Beacon.


Isle of Man motor trade[edit]

  • Thomas Adams (54), Corner Garage, Ramsey.
  • John Cannan Bridson (61), The Garage, Ballaugh.
  • Norman Hull Brown (71), Onchan.
  • Ralph Caine (57), Austin dealer, Laxey.
  • William Ralph Cain (33), Crosbie, Cain & Kennish Ltd, Douglas.
  • Thomas Edward Christian (55), Salisbury Garage, Douglas.
  • David Charles Corlett (47), The Lhen Garage.
  • William Neville Corlett (17), The Lhen Garage.
  • G.W. 'Willie' Corlett (67), Ramsey Motors Ltd.
  • Robert Corkill (56), Corkill's Garage, Onchan.
  • James William Crellin (25), Salisbury Garage, Douglas.
  • John Crennell (42), Crennells Garage, Ramsey.
  • Arthur Gleave (38), Ramsey Motors Ltd.
  • Thomas Joseph Gilbertson (33), agent for Riley, Alvia and Blanke & Lanz.
  • William Harding (28), motor-cycle dealer.
  • David Charles Harding (24), motor-cycle dealer.
  • David Malcolm Howarth (25), Ramsey Motors Ltd.
  • George Selwyn Lace (36), Empire Garage Ltd, Peel.
  • Frank Leece (52), Orry Motors.
  • James Harold Lindsay (56), dealer for Standard Cars and Triumph.
  • William Arthur Tonkin (43), Ramsey Motors Ltd.
  • Thomas Williams (32), Corkill's Garage, Onchan.
  • Leslie Kneale (42), garage owner, Port St. Mary.

Other fatalities[edit]

  • Ted Partington (38), Isle of Man Water Board
  • Thomas Alfred Callow (33), Transport Manager, Clucas Laundry Ltd, Braddan.
  • Raymond Clague (33), Douglas Hackney Owners Association.
  • Sergeant Jack Cretney (41), Isle of Man Constabulary
  • Louis Arthur Cowin (55), Clucas Laundry Ltd, Braddan.
  • J. Douglas Craine (52), Maintenance Superintendent, Douglas Corporation Transport.
  • John Wade Fargher (33), Hackney Licence, Peel.
  • Victor James McMahon (35), T.G. McMahon Ltd, Ballasalla.
  • William Russell Moore (31), Assistant Civil Defence Officer, Isle of Man Civil Defence
  • John Bayliss Parkes (37), Corlett Sons & Cowley Ltd.
  • Charles Edward Staley (28).
  • Thomas Alma Watts (47).


Crew members[edit]

  • Captain E.M.H. Cairnes, pilot.
  • First Officer William Howarth, navigator.
  • Jennifer Curtis, stewardess.

Other survivors[edit]

  • James Crosbie, Crosbie, Cain & Kennish Ltd, Douglas.
  • William N. Ennett.
  • Fredrick Kennish, Crosbie, Cain & Kennish Ltd, Douglas
  • Harold Williamson, Isle of Man Electricity Board


  1. ^ Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
  2. ^ Alan Clark. "Bristol 170 Freighter Mk.21E G-AICS". Crash Sites in the Pennines. Peak District Air Accident Research. Retrieved 2 August 2010. 
  3. ^ ICAO Accident Digest, Circular 59-AN/54 (83–92)
  4. ^ Survivors relive Winter Hill crash horror Retrieved on 31st January 2016
  5. ^ a b Steve Poole Rough Landing or Fatal Flight. A history of aircraft accidents on, or over and around the Isle of Man (1999) (1st Edition) Manx Heritage Foundation Amulree Publications ISBN 1-901508-03-X