History of Charmy Down

Bath SpaRCS were very pleased to welcome Howard Burton and Richard Wynn-Jones to our March club meeting. Howard and Richard provided us with an historical insight into the development, role and personnel of the Charmy Down airfield.

Work to establish Charmy Down as an airfield began in early 1940 with the intention of it being a satellite airfield to Colerne. Completed in September 1940 it became the home to 87 Squadron operating Hurricane night fighter aircraft. Howard reflected upon the lives and tragedies of personnel working on the station and has done much research into themselves and families.

Douglas Turbinlite Havocs were also stationed at Charmy Down with the role of illuminating enemy aircraft with a 2,700 million candela searchlight for the Hurricanes to shoot down. This never became an effective strategy.

In 1943 the USAAF  moved into Charmy Down and were resident until the end of the war.

At this time there were many civilians displaced by the war and many homeless, what started out as a squat in the now abandoned quarters of service personnel soon become an accepted community and great way to accommodate people. Charmy Down became established with a School, a Pub and Shop up until 1955 when residents finally moved into new accommodation at Elmhurst.

During the Cold War years, Charmy Down was temporarily one of the sites used for an experimental radar system known as Rotor. The system didn’t work and all parts of it removed from site other than 9 remaining plinths to the east of the airfield.

Charmy Down today has reverted fully back to farmland, whilst the old tarmac runways can still be made out beneath the grass only derelict building remain to remind us of the legacy of this once thriving facility.