The Hatfield Aerodrome History Trail was officially opened on 24 November 2010. It forms part of a Heritage Lottery funded project by the University of Hertfordshire to mark the 60th anniversary of the opening of the airfield by the de Havilland Aircraft Company. The de Havilland Aeronautical and Technical School Association (DHAeTSA) and former employees on the site were among a number of organisations and individuals also involved.
Please note: The full trail is around 4 km long and takes around 90 minutes, a shorter version is around 3 km and takes around 60 minutes. There are 10 information boards located at various points around the trail. The first board and start of the trail is located outside the University of Hertfordshire's de Havilland Campus (the university's origins can be traced back to the de Havilland Technical School). A leaflet with a map of the route is available at the reception.
As the trail cuts through Ellenbrook Park and Ellenbrook Fields the ground can be uneven in places, and there can be tripping hazards like tree roots and stumps of saplings. Also, in or after wet weather the full trail can be very muddy in places. It is advisable to wear comfortable footwear with ankle support, particularly if attempting the full trail.
The start of the trail Information – Board 1 (Beginnings and the Beacon) – covers the start of the aerodrome and the beacon (due to be installed later in 2011). A leaflet and map of the trail can be obtained free of charge from the campus reception, which is situated in the Learning Resources Centre visible in the background (entrance is on the right).
Board 2 (The Early Years) is behind the Watton Hall of Residence (and (visible just behind the red sign)) – seen here from Albatross Way, near bus stop Q. As the title suggests it covers the prewar years of the airfield.
Board 3 (The Runway) is located in Ellenbrook Park. There is a pedestrian access gate on Albatross Way, and from Salisbury Garden Village (Barlow Close or Cunningham Drive). Content also covers the Gipsy Moth, Air Transport Auxilliary and the site's Hollywood connections. A detailed account of the runway is available on this site.
Board 4 (Astwick Manor) is located in Ellenbrook Fields. The Oak tree marks a pedestrian access gate from Coopers Green Lane, near the junction with Hatfield Avenue (which is just around the corner on the right). Astwick Manor, once home to the Technical School, is to the left, out of view (there is another pedestrian access gate closer to it). However, it is has been converted into gated flats and there is no public access.
Board 5 (Rocket Development) is located by the deck overlooking the fountain at the Computacentre roundabout. This area – once on the other side of the runway from the aircraft factory and offices – used to be home to the de Havilland Propeller Company (later BAe Dynamics), which among other things was responsible for missile and rocket development. Please note: if following the trail, you would be approaching from the right. Also, the fountain is not always switched on.
Board 6 (Community) is by the fountains at the junction of Hatfield Avenue and Mosquito Way. Still visible in the background behind the trees is the hedge which used to enclose the bowling green of the de Havilland Sports and Social Club (the clubhouse having since been demolished). Content also covers activities like Arts and Open Days.
Board 7 (Design Innovation) is across the road, also on the junction of Hatfield Avenue and Mosquito Way. A corner of one of the office buildings of the T-Mobile / Orange HQ complex is visible behind. Originally an administrative building used to house the Design Department in the Fifties stood on that site.
Surviving art deco de Havilland headquarters and administration building on Comet Way
Board 8 (Administration Block and the Bombing) is under the Copper Beech tree. On either side of this entrance to the new Police Station complex are a series of six memorial markers (created by Rod Coleman and funded by British Aerospace), which give details of the aircraft made and / or assembled here. The original HQ building is on the right (behind the willow tree) and staff canteen on the left (Please note: these are parts of the Police and Courts complex so are not open to the public).
Former canteen building, now a police station. More information on this and the Admin block can be found on the Reminders and Remnants of de Havilland page.
Board 9 (The Gatehouse) is just behind the art deco gatehouse. Next to it is the building which once housed the personnel department (now home to a fast-food restaurant). Content also lists explains some of the street names, more information on this subject is available on the Roads to Remember page.
Board 10 (The Comet) is alongside the front of the Control Tower, which is part of the Flight Test Hangar. Content also covers the hanger. More information on this subject is available on the Flight Test Hangar page.
Please note: PDF copies of the information contained on the boards is available on the de Havilland Aeronautical and Technical School Association (DHAeTSA) site (under News). A link to this site is available from the Aviation and Aerospace links page.