RAF Woodvale

Royal Air Force Woodvale or RAF Woodvale (ICAO: EGOW) is a Royal Air Force Station located 4 mi (6.4 km) next to the town of Formby in an area called Woodvale which is located to the south of Southport, Merseyside. Woodvale was constructed as an all-weather night fighter airfield for the defence of Liverpool. However, it did not open until 7 December 1941 which was just after the Liverpool Blitz which peaked in May of that year.[1]

RAF Woodvale
Air Force Ensign of the United Kingdom.svg
Near Woodvale, Merseyside in England
RAF Woodvale (2).jpg
RAF Woodvale
RAF Woodvale crest.png
Ut Aquilae volent
(Latin for 'That Eagles May Fly')
RAF Woodvale is located in Merseyside
RAF Woodvale
RAF Woodvale
Shown within Merseyside
Coordinates53°34′54″N 003°03′20″W / 53.58167°N 3.05556°W / 53.58167; -3.05556Coordinates: 53°34′54″N 003°03′20″W / 53.58167°N 3.05556°W / 53.58167; -3.05556
TypeRoyal Air Force station
Area173 hectares
Site information
OwnerMinistry of Defence
OperatorRoyal Air Force
Controlled byNo. 22 Group (Training)
Site history
Built1941 (1941)
In use1941-Present
Garrison information
Wing Commander D Hooton
Airfield information
IdentifiersICAO: EGOW
Elevation11 metres (36 ft) AMSL
Direction Length and surface
03/21 1,647 metres (5,404 ft) Asphalt
08/26 1,068 metres (3,504 ft) Asphalt


The Second World WarEdit

During the Second World War RAF squadrons were brought up from the south of England to 'rest' for short periods, during which time they defended Merseyside. 308 (Krakowski) Squadron was the first to arrive, on 12 December 1941, from RAF Northolt before leaving on 1 April 1942.[2] Squadrons were rotated regularly. Several were Polish, including 315 (Dęblinski) Sqn and 317 (Wilenski) Sqn. Spitfire IIs and Vbs were operated by these units.[3]

Support units working with all three Services also served there, calibrating anti-aircraft guns and towing targets for the Royal Navy. In April 1945, Woodvale briefly became a Tender for the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm airfield at Burscough, HMS Ringtail, being given the name HMS Ringtail II.[4]

Post warEdit

10 AEF Grob Tutor and hangar at RAF Woodvale.

After a period of inactivity, Woodvale reopened on 22 July 1946, when the Spitfire F14s of No. 611 (West Lancashire) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, moved here from Liverpool Airport at Speke. The squadron re-equipped with Spitfire F22s in February 1949. Gloster Meteor F.4 and F.8 jets were flown between May 1951 until 9 July 1951. Because of the need for better facilities, the Squadron moved to RAF Hooton Park, joining No. 610 Squadron, where it remained until its disbandment on 10 March 1957. The Temperature and Humidity Flight, operating Spitfires and Mosquitos, was based there from 1953 to 1958.[5]

The last operational flight by a Spitfire[which?] in active British military markings, flew from RAF Woodvale in 1957[when?].[1]

No. 5 Civilian Anti-Aircraft Co-Operation Unit moved to Woodvale on 1 January 1958, and operated target-towing Meteors until 30 September 1971 when the unit was disbanded.[6]

Training stationEdit

Since 1971, RAF Woodvale has remained a training station. Liverpool University Air Squadron- LUAS moved in from RAF Hooton Park on 2 July 1951.[7] Manchester and Salford University Air Squadron (then named Manchester University Air Squadron) (MUAS) (now MASUAS) moved in from Manchester's Barton Aerodrome in March 1953.[8] 10 Air Experience Flight was formed at RAF Woodvale on 25 August 1958[8] and 631 Volunteer Gliding Squadron moved in from RAF Sealand in March 2006.[9]

The current station commander is Wing Commander D Hooton.[10]

A BAe Hawk T1A, number XX247, was installed as the site's gate guardian in November 2017,[11][12] replacing an earlier Jet Provost.[12]

Based unitsEdit

Flying and notable non-flying units based at RAF Woodvale.[9][13]

Royal Air ForceEdit

No. 2 Group (Air Combat Support) RAF

No. 22 Group (Training) RAF


  • Woodvale Aircraft Owners Limited - WAOL.

Woodvale RallyEdit

In 1971, RAF Woodvale hosted the first annual Woodvale International Rally.[14] The event is a charitable event, that originally began as a model aircraft show. It has grown over the years to include car clubs with both classic cars, vintage cars and other vehicle displays. It usually occupies the first weekend in August.[15] The 2012 rally had to be re-located and rescheduled[16] to nearby Victoria Park, Southport, Merseyside, on safety grounds. Asbestos was discovered from old World War II structures[17] that had been buried long ago.[18]

Merseyside Police Air Support GroupEdit

Basing the Merseyside Air Support Group at RAF Woodvale made the station something of a target for criminals. Just before 2230 on Friday 9 October 2009 a window of the helicopter was smashed and petrol poured inside causing the helicopter to be grounded.[19]

On 17 May 2010 the Merseyside Police helicopter was again attacked and grounded, after four masked intruders broke into the airbase at around 04:00 causing what was described as minor damage.[20]

As part of the reorganisation of Police Air Support in England and Wales and the formation of the National Police Air Service, Merseyside operationally retired its dedicated Police helicopter G-XMII in July 2011.[21] Cover would then be provided with four aircraft from Cheshire, Lancashire, North Wales and Greater Manchester, the nearest to Merseyside being based at Hawarden Airport with G-XMII providing back up.[22] From 1 June 2012, Merseyside Police signed a four-year deal to lease the helicopter to the Norwegian Police Service in response to the 2011 terrorist attacks in Norway.[22]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ a b "Mersey Reporter History Page - RAF Woodvale". www.merseyreporter.com.
  2. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 85.
  3. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 86.
  4. ^ "Woodvale". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  5. ^ Jefford 2001, p. 100.
  6. ^ Lake 1999, p. 48.
  7. ^ "Who is based here". Royal Air Force. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  8. ^ a b "RAF Woodvale". Air of Authority - A History of RAF Organisation. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  9. ^ a b "Welcome to 631 Volunteer Gliding Squadron". 631 Volunteer Gliding Squadron. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  10. ^ "RAF Woodvale". RAF Woodvale. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  11. ^ "Out of Service British Military Aircraft". Demobbed. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  12. ^ a b Regan, Pat (28 November 2017). "RAF Woodvale's new Gate Guardian - UPDATED". On The Spot (OTS) News Southport. Retrieved 14 October 2019.
  13. ^ "Who is based here". RAF Woodvale. Retrieved 18 November 2017.
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ "Whats On - Woodvale Rally". Sefton Council. Retrieved 14 June 2012.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ Local Newspaper report
  17. ^ Local Newspaper report
  18. ^ "Press Release". Woodvale Rally. Archived from the original on 16 June 2012. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
  19. ^ "Liverpool Daily Post". Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  20. ^ "Liverpool Echo". Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  21. ^ "Liverpool Echo". Retrieved 1 April 2013.
  22. ^ a b "Norwegian Police lease second EC135". Retrieved 15 June 2013.


  • Jefford, C.G. RAF Squadrons, a Comprehensive Record of the Movement and Equipment of all RAF Squadrons and their Antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury, Shropshire, UK: Airlife Publishing, 2001. ISBN 1-84037-141-2.
  • Lake, A Flying Units of the RAF. Shrewsbury, Airlife Publishing Ltd., 1999. ISBN 1-84037-086-6.

External linksEdit