Post by Dave Homewood on Oct 3, 2011 12:27:47 GMT 12
Thanks for that info Shorty. I heard in the late 2000's that one of the WWI hangars removed by Ngai Tahu had been dismantled and had come to Cambridge for a farmer who has a strip on his farm. I have never heard anything more. Does anyone know if this is true? Was one of those old hangars dismantled and transported or was it merely knocked down like the larger No's 6 and 7 Hangars?
Dave, I worked out of 5 Hangar right until 2008. I think I would have been at Wigram from 2001 or so. I was often over in Tech Sqdn HQ until it went. I removed some of the framing from the S&S / Natts crew room areas ( 6 Hangar), - it had more important uses down in 5 Hangar. I saw the water tower come down. Basically witnessed much of the destruction. The lead acid battery room put up an admirable fight. I was there when the telephone technician arrived and asked if my phones were working. Hmm, no problems here, we don't have the phone on here. Oh, ok.. others are complaining.. the guys in the tower etc. Hmmm, could that be related to the Base HQ building getting bulldozed yesterday do you think ? I took him over and showed him where Base comms use to be...
I had heard that the buildings with any history went first and quickly. apparently there was talk of a heritage order being raised. No2 / WO's and SNCO's messes along with those older hangars were the first to go I was told. It was before 2001 though I believe.
Last Edit: Oct 3, 2011 13:16:23 GMT 12 by baronbeeza
Post by Dave Homewood on Oct 3, 2011 14:08:03 GMT 12
If that is the case I guess the rumour is probably untrue.
The NATTS and S&S crewroom stopped being used by NATTS around early-mid 1992, a while before they disbanded. They found a room on the other side of the hangar so gave i to us and the NATTS guys tore down the dividing wall for us - which from memory was only a row of their lockers anywaywhish they shifted to the southern side of the hangar. So we ended up with enough room for our F/Sgt to bring in an old pool table which a couple of the lads recovered, and we had a very nice big crew room with a view of the airfield and the fire station in the end, plus all mod cons of stove, microwave, etc. I made the mistake of wiping a wall where NATTS had been and it revelled a big clean stripe. The Sgt told me I now had to wash the lot. So I had probably 50 years of filthy smokers' dirt to wash off the walls. It came up nice in the end though.
So which bits did you take from out crew room as we left nothing in ther when we left in 1993. Or do you mean the NATTS crew room they made in 1992?
That room had been a store room for Pionair and they had DC3 parts and stuff in there. As they moved out I went over and took some of the framing timber to frame up racks for aircraft that were in storage across at 5 Hangar.
Terry Young ran a mobile mechanic business out of Tech Sqdn HQ until it was all demolished. No's 4 and 5 Hangars were used for light aviation until we all got the boot.
6 Hangar was used by a freight or tractor transporting company. At least the Northern end of it.
I guess it was a little depressing, - everytime I went to work I will see another landmark building on it's way out. The CTS buildings were gone on one of my last trips there.
Post by Dave Homewood on Oct 6, 2011 20:32:41 GMT 12
I was looking at that first photo in this thread the other night and thinking how it might have looked back then in full colour. So I decided to find out. This is admittedly not very good but it's an attempt to colourise the photo. It was sadly not quite sharp enough to really nail it I don't think.
Post by davidduxbury on Jul 25, 2012 11:00:41 GMT 12
Just to get add some background to the earliest buildings at Wigram, if we use Reply No. 6 on this thread as an example, the large concrete hangars furthest from camera and facing out over the landing ground are of course the existing Nos. 4 and 5 hangars, built in 1935 to house the new Vildebeests and Avro 626s (and originally known as No. 1 and 2 concrete hangars). Closer to the viewer, and directly behind the concrete hangars are the original Canterbury Aviation Company hangars and other miscellaneous buildings (all wood of course), which were all finally demolished in about 1940/41 to make way for the new MT workshops. Finally the row of buildings running diagonally acroos view towards right lower corner are the government-owned buildings erected in 1920 to house the Imperial Gift aircraft, which arrived shortly afterwards. They comprised the stores building with the ridged roof and skylights, plus the two government hangars with the black malthoid-covered curved roofs. These buildings all survived until the late 1970s or early 1980s, with one hangar, as pointed out already, ending up at Ferrymead for the vintage car club, although the lack of the diagonal wall braces soon resulted in its destruction. And I can see two Grebes, three Bristols and three Tomtits at rear, but no signs of any of those Vildebeests or Avro 626s! Perhaps they are all safe in those concrete hangars! David D
Post by davidduxbury on Jul 25, 2012 11:32:23 GMT 12
Finally the photo that started this thread (No.1) is very interesting in that it shows all the new construction under way in about 1937/1938, with the third and fourth concrete hangars just under way (later Nos. 3 and 4), plus No. 1 Wooden hangar at rear (later No. 6 Hangar). Also the Instructional Building in centre is well advanced (later known as Support Group HQ, and also known as the "Control Tower" building although this feature was not added till much later), as is No. 1 Store, and No. 2 Store just started, and original Station HQ which looks complete . Also is that the new flagpole I can see up in front of the Station HQ buildng and just to left side of the future No. 5 Hangar? I was present when this pole came down about 1995 and it was then taken up to Woodbourne for Ground Training Wing. Finally the small hangar at far right is probably the Canterbury Aero Club hangar, some of this club's assets remaining at Wigram until 1946 (although in recess) when it moved to Harewood. However the main club building became the WAAF barracks at HArewood and eventually the aero club got it back; it was demolished about late 1960s when a new brick building took its place. Incisentally while at WIgram the Aero Club building also acted as the terminal for Union Airways passenger services for Christchurch from 1936 till about April 1940 when they transferred to Harewood. This airline's Electras also operated out of Wigram during the "Great snow" of July 1945 becasue the snow at Harewood was too deep! Incidentally the "Instructional Building" was given this name because it was built to house the instructional (lecture) rooms for the pupil pilots who commenced training in June 1937 at what was then known as the RNZAF Flying Training School, with courses of 12 pupils initially, later increased to 21, then up to much higher numbers during the war. If you study the construction drawings for this building it is apparent that the AML Bombing Teacher was originally intended to be housed in this building also, but if it ever was, this synthetic training aid (which used a raised platform with a mounted CSBS - Course Setting Bomb Sight - and a vertically-mounted slide projector which projected an image on a white rubber floor far below the bomb sight) was later housed in the strange tall, thin building on the "camp" side of road about half way between the (now missing) Nos. 6 and 7 hangars. This strange looking building was later (from early 1950s?), I believe, used for airing parachutes and fire hoses, and its original function was forgotten, although the building was not demolished until the late 1990s, if not even a little later. David D
Post by baronbeeza on Jul 25, 2012 12:29:22 GMT 12
David, that tall thin building you spoke of may have been what I referred to as the Lead Acid battery room. It was between 5 and 6 Hangars but on the Tech Sqn HQ side of the road.
That was the building that the demolition crew really struggled with. You can see the ground shadow pointing towards the airfield in photo 1. That building was coming down in mid-June 2005. I know I was there at that time and I think the guy I was with was only there on that date.
If that is indeed the building I am sure very few of us were aware of it's history. Most interesting.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 25, 2012 14:15:55 GMT 12
When I worked in the Parachute Bay 1991-93, the parachute drying tower was integral with the bay, on the side of No. 6 Hangar, not across the road. Was it added onto No. 6 Hangar later?
Also in the 1938-40 period, the Christchurch (Territorial) Squadron and Christchurch (General Reconnaissance) Squadron were housed in one of the smaller older hangars, which members of the squadron have told me was then called No. 6 Hangar. I believe it was the most western of the two 1920 rounded-top Government Imperial Gift plane hangars. Can you confirm this please?
The AML building was on the other side of the road from the hangars, and must have been 25 tr 30 feet tall, with a conventional ridged roof. I certainly cannot see it on photo 1, although I THINK you can see its shadow thrown across the road towards eastern end of 7 Hangar on photo 24; owever at the moment this photo won't "pop up" on my screen, no matter what I do or say! Has it been deleted? However if you have got a copy of Paul Harrison's history of Wigram, it can clearly be seen in the photo on the cover, on page 33 top (best view), on 36 top. In fact my original description of the exact location was a bity astray, the buidling was directly across road from eastern end of 7 Hangar rather than adjacent to gap between the two hangars. It also appears on page 45, lower photograph, just below tailwheel of the Harvard! There a several smaller buildings in line with the AML building, on that side of the road - it is quite unmistakable, and there could be small buildings attached to it on both east and west sides. And in case you want to see what the AML Teacher looks like "in action" on the INSIDE of the building, you can check it out in J M S Ross's "Royal New Zealand Air Force" (official history, avaiable on line), in first group of photos between pages 82/83, fifth photo page, top photo headed "synthetic bombing instruction" - I have seen better photographs but this is most accessible. Also good photos of AML Bombing Teacher buildings in the book on RAF Architecture, technical buildings. David D
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 26, 2012 13:05:08 GMT 12
The tall building across from No. 7 Hangar that you descibe was, I was told at the time I was there, an old Shot Tower, used by the Armourers. The Armoury was right there in no. 7 Hangar and they had outbuildings across the road including their lock ups.
Of other little buildings down opposite the Fire Station and No. 6 Hangar on that corner area, I recall one was called Non Destructive Testing, and there was another the Avionics or Signals guys used I think. I need to find a decent 1990's aerial shot to get my bearings properly.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 26, 2012 13:13:34 GMT 12
Here are three photos I took during a snowy day at Wigram, out our back door (No. 6 Hangar), which shows the little outbuildings aling our road. Half of them I never knew who owned them. They were just there.
You can see the 'shot tower' and other Armoury buildings in this one:
The skid marks were from a Unipower fire engine that skidded and very nearly came through our wall as we all sat just inside that point at Joe Time. But you can see a little hut on the left.That may have been NDT, not certain, there were a few along that road towards Tech Squadron HQ, and I think one was also tall like the Shot Tower.
No. 3TTS on Harvard Lane. Water tower in the distance.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 26, 2012 13:22:53 GMT 12
In my first snowy picture above, on the left of shot is No. 6 Hangar. The first footpath there led into a passage that went into the hangar, and there was an office in there too which was originally (when I got there in 1991) W/O Blue Molloy's office for NATTS, and then F/Sgt Blue Freeman had it for a while, and later when NATTS shifted their offices and crew room to the other side of the hangar, F/Sgt Keith Scott (S&S) had it, through till Tech Squadron was closing down in 1993 and he moved up to Tech Sqn HQ.
The next path and door along, which you can see, went into the NATTS officers' patch. I assume that was their crew room or sometig as I guess the flightline office was on the other side of the hangar?
I'm also guessing but perhaps some of the little outbuildings on the right of that shot were related to No. 3TTS? Maybe the drivers or firemen or whoever did practical training there?? I had so little to do with that school I only went in there once in all my time at Wigram, to eat a meal while the Mess Stewards course was being trade tested. The only time in my RNZAF career I was waited on at a dinner table, haha.
Note in the Fire Station shot the Landrover Ambulance is sitting there. I wonder what was in the little hut next to No. 5 Hangar too. Further along in the same position next to No. 4 Hangar we had a Portacom with all the survival vests, helmets and life preservers for No. 3 Squadron Detachment. I used to go in there often to pick up and drop off equipment.
In the bottom shot I think the barrack block seen peeking out at the right is the Transit Block, isn't it?
Dave H, Yes that's the building all right, in your No. 1 Photo. Well done. My original knowledge of this building was in 1965/66 when I was a lowly cadet in No. 17 Sqdn, ATC; we of course had our parades in No. 7 Hangar (Thursday evenings I think) and I was allocated to a Flight in charge of a F/Sgt Cato. We were told that the "tower" building was used for parachutes and hoses at this time, although we could not really confirm this; they could have told us anything and so long as it was not too far fetched we probably would have believed them, but I am inclined to beleive they were telling the truth. One fine evening we even saw a near-new C-130 parked between 6 and 7 hangars, protected by an elderly (we were only 14 or 15?) warrant officer who weaved protectively between us cadets and the aircraft, saying all the while: "Keep away from the aeroplane boys!" We did not damage it though. From memory the small arms used by 17 Sqdn (and no doubt many others) were stored in an armoury in the annex on the north east corner of 7 hangar, practically opposite the AML Teacher building on other side of the road. The small arms were mainly SMLEs, Bren guns and Sterling sub-machine guns. No. 6 Hangar had an excellent selection of dismantled Harvards (about 20), still on their wheels, all in silver schemes, some with yellow training bands, some with the dayglo orange. David D
Whoops! The reason the elderly W/O was weaving (as related in my above ramblings) was that he was mounted on a bicycle, and had definitely NOT been imbibing to excess. I checked my spelling prior to hitting the "Go!" button, but not the full narrative to see if it made complete sense! This message inserted for the purposes of maintaining good board morale and to swiflty obviate any tendency by unknown persons to question the sobriety of such a fine body of gentlemen as W/Os. David D
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 26, 2012 17:05:24 GMT 12
Yes the Armoury workshops and officer, etc, were in that corner of the hangar as you describe. But in my time the actual weapons were all across the road in a very ancient looking concrete lock up. Weapons issue was always form there, while in the hangar workshop was where they did maintenance. Was the lock up not around in the 1960's? It looked 1940's to me, with a big steel door.
I was told that the shot tower was from the days when the armourers made their own shot, they dropped molten lead drops into cold oil and they formed into shot, collected at the bottom, or something. It seemed plausible and I have heard of this happening elsewhere too. I somehow doubt fire hoses needed to be hung indoors, in my time even the whizzy do new fire station had the hose racks outdoors.
I am not sure about the parachute tower in No. 6 Hangar as to whether it was originally there from the time the hangar was constructed or a later addition, but it seemed fairly old and looked the same style as the rest of the hangar to me. It would seem silly to have the tower down the road from the packing table. Or even across the road. They had the purpose built parachute towers on all flying bases by the war I think, you can see one on one of the blocks even at Omaka today.
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 26, 2012 17:14:01 GMT 12
Actually it used to be when a new person arrived on base they were given a map with a key to all the buildings and sections so they could find their way around. Does anyone here have one for Wigram, with the names of these buildings on them?
Post by Dave Homewood on Jul 26, 2012 20:07:32 GMT 12
Next down the row on No. 7 Hangar from the Armoury was the office for Camp Pack Up, which was run by GSH Laurie Sadler, a great chap who was ex-SAS soldier who'd been in Vietnam. Then the rest of that side of the hangar was the Photography Section. On the other side of the hangar (southern side) was Air Movements and the Terminal on the eastern end, and the RNZAF Museum Workshops on the western end. In the hangar proper was the Museum workshop on the west and shared Air Movements and Camp Pack Up on the Eastern side.