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Aircraft (Past & Present) - around Stratford sub Castle

Bristol F.2B Mk.111A.jpg

This Bristol F.2B Mk.111A  was photographed near Old Sarum at some time between 1926 and 1929.

Archaeologists and historians have terms for limits to a date range. Here 1926 is the terminus post quem, the earliest possible date. This is because we have the serial number of the plane so can look up the type [1], it is a Bristol F.2B Mk.IIIA, then look up BAE Systems archives [2] to find that 50 were built 1926-27.

Also it can’t be before 1926 as that is when plans for stairs and rail down to the cathedral crypt were drawn [3] and they are not seen here. August 1929 is the terminus ante quem, the latest possible date, which is easier, this is when the photo was published. [4] We may have been able to get that another way as the RAF roundel can be probably dated to pre-darkening of the outer ring in 1929. [5]  The Sphere was a weekly publication and more likely to publish a recent photo than one that was a few years old. 

The view predates any Middle Barn Farm buildings on New Bottom Road, the water treatment plant opposite Shepherd’s Cottage, or a bridge between the inner and outer baileys of Old Sarum. Plans for a bridge had been drawn up for tender in 1913 [6] but there is no sign of it in the image.


Kerry O’Connor



[1]   the J1 to J9999 page 

[2] BAE Systems Heritage


[4] Published August 17,1929 in The Sphere, page 341. Image © Illustrated News Group, accessed via the British Newspaper Archive



On the 21 January 1935 a plane crashed at Stratford sub Castle, tragically killing the pilot.

The plane was the 2 (ACOp) Sqn RAF Avro 671 Rota Autogiro (Rota Type C.30A) registration K4234. Flight Officer Lewis Walter Oliver of No.2 (Army Cooperation) Squadron, Manston attached to the School of Army Co-operation at Old Sarum for instructions in the use of the Autogiro C.30A, was engaged in landing practice when the accident occurred. He was killed. Twelve of these flew from RAF Old Sarum.

Air Crash 1935 pic 2.jpg

The Air Ministry statement said:


On the 21st January 1935, near Old Sarum Aerodrome, a Royal Air Force Autogiro (Rota Type C.30A) was involved in an accident which resulted in the wrecking of the aircraft and the death of the pilot. The aeroplane entered a cloud when flying straight and level at a height of about 1,500 to 2,000 feet and emerged about half a minute later in a steep dive in which it remained until it struck the ground. The accident occurred in the course of Service training and while the pilot had been a qualified Royal Air Force pilot for more than two years, was carrying out his fourth solo flight in this new type of aircraft.

As a result of his investigations the Inspector of Accidents has come to the conclusion that no structural failure of the aircraft or defect in its control mechanism occurred during the flight. He considers that the cause of the accident cannot be definitely determined but that the evidence suggests, as the most likely cause, that in the course of flying training under Service conditions, made difficult by low-lying cloud, the aircraft in diving had been allowed to reach a speed at which, owing to longitudinal instability, it had become uncontrollable.” 

Before WWII the Autogiro C.30A was evaluated at the School of Army Co-operation at RAF Old Sarum. In WWII it was used to assist ground radar calibration.


Kerry O’Connor


The Illustrated London News, January 26th1935, page 134. Image © The Illustrated London News. Accessed via the British Newspaper Archive. ©The British Library Board, all rights reserved.

The Aviation Safety Network;

Imperial War Museum. © IWM CH 1426. Aircraft Of The Royal Air Force 1939-1945: Cierva C.30a (Rota. 1). (IWM Non-Commercial License)

1935 crash

On Wednesday 2 July 1952, a Bristol Aeroplane Company’s Bristol Brigand (B Mk 1 Reg RH753) from the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment at Boscombe Down was photographing a trial of Army parachute equipment from another aircraft when it crashed at Bemerton Heath, killing both occupants. There were injuries to people on the ground, one house was destroyed and ten damaged.


Image - Imperial War Museum. © IWM ATP 14456B. Post War British Aircraft. Bristol Brigand TF Mk I. (IWM Non-Commercial License)

The Aviation Safety Network;

British Pathe

Aircraft D

On Wednesday 31 July 1957, an  Avro Anson C21 crashed on the Stratford Road at the gate to Hudson’s Field. There were no casualties.



Image by courtesy of Stratford sub Castle Local History Group. Photographer unknown. Previously published in the St Lawrence Parish Magazine July 2021

The Royal Air Force Museum

Aerial Visuals

Air crash 1935 pic 3.jpg
1957 Air Crash

The Edgely Optica first flew in 1979. The designer lived for a while in Stratford sub Castle and owned Old Sarum airfield where it was built. One in service with Hampshire Police, crashed at Ringwood in 1985, both occupants were killed. Of 22 built, 10 were destroyed by arson. 

Aircraft E.jpg

Sources: Original photographer unknown G-BGMW (001) and G-BLFC (003)

Aircraft Accident Report. Aircraft Accident Investigation Branch. Department of Transport. Report on the Accident to Edgely EA7 Optica G-KATY at Ringwood Hampshire on 15th May 1985

Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Avro Lancaster B1 PA474 over Old Sarum, and the Cathedra

On 29 June 2019, flypasts to commemorate Armed Forces Day could be watched from Stratford sub Castle. On the left of the image is the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Avro Lancaster B1 PA474 flying over Old Sarum.

Images Paul Derwent.

More details.

On 9 July 2020, Salisbury's connection to the WW2 'Secret Spitfires' project was marked by the unveiling of a replica Spitfire on Castle Road.  A  flypast by two of the few remaining airworthy WW2 spitfires could be viewed from Hudson's Field.  More details.

spitfire in flight 9 july 2021.jpg


With the runways of Old Sarum Airport only a mile away from Stratford sub Castle, aircraft flying overhead are a common sight. The airport is currently (2022) used by Cessna 'Supercargo Master' planes that take sky-divers to drop zones around this area. Colourful parachutes can regularly be seen floating over Old Sarum as the sky-divers return to base. 


Cessna supercargo SKYDIVE.jpg
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