Woodford Aerodrome or Manchester Woodford Aerodrome (ICAO: EGCD) is a former private airfield and aircraft factory located at Woodford, Greater Manchester. The site, which is 6 NM (11 km; 6.9 mi) north of Macclesfield, Cheshire, England, was opened by the Avro company shortly after the First World War. It became an important production centre for military aircraft during the Second World War. Notable planes made at the factory include the Avro Anson, Avro Lancaster, Avro Shackleton and Avro Vulcan.
After almost 80 years of continual aircraft manufacture at the site, Woodford was closed and sold off by BAE Systems in 2011. The aerodrome was demolished in 2015.
The aerodrome opened in 1924 when Avro, founded by the aviation pioneer Alliott Verdon-Roe, bought New Hall Farm to move its aeroplane assembly and test flying facilities from Alexandra Park Aerodrome in south Manchester. Originally it had a small grass landing area with several temporary Bessonneau hangars. The Lancashire Aero Club also used the aerodrome briefly in the 1920s until moving to the new Barton Aerodrome and used a converted farm building as a clubhouse and a ‘Dutch barn’ style steel-framed hangar built for A V Roe around 1927.
By the late 1930s, the aerodrome was upgraded to hard runways; the main runway was also extended to the east. Increased factory space, particularly at the northern edge of the aerodrome next to Woodford village, was constructed to allow vast expansion of aircraft production.
World War II
During the Second World War, the Avro Lancaster was constructed at the site.
In 1945, Hawker-Siddeley bought into Avro Canada. Avro continued to be operating name at Woodford but it was actually a subsidiary of the Hawker Siddeley Group and used only for trading purposes. When the company was absorbed into Hawker Siddeley Aviation in July 1963, the Avro name ceased to be used. Woodford officially became part of Hawker Siddeley Aviation in 1963.
On 29 April 1977, Woodford was taken over by British Aerospace. It was formed as a result of the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act when Hawker Siddeley Aviation and Dynamics were nationalised and merged with British Aircraft Corporation (BAC) and Scottish Aviation.
Woodford became part of BAE Systems in 1999 as a result of the £7.7 billion merger of British Aerospace (BAe) and Marconi Electronic Systems (MES) in November 1999. The aerodrome and factory became known as BAE Systems Woodford until it was sold in late 2011.
In 2003 BAE started thinking about closing the site when it completed manufacturing the BAE Nimrod MRA4, although the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions thought that production at the site could be extended beyond this. The site was subsequently scheduled to close in 2012, with the termination of 630 staff. However, in October 2010 the British Government announced the cancellation of orders of Nimrod as part of its Strategic Defence and Security Review. On 24 November 2010, 320 subcontractors were terminated, and the site had 450 permanent staff. It was announced in December 2010 that the site would be closing in early 2011. Production ended at the site in March 2011. It was previously believed that some jobs would be transferred to BAE Systems’ Military Air Solutions headquarters in Preston, Lancashire. The site closed as an active airfield on 25 August 2011.
On 20 December 2011 the 500-acre site was purchased from BAE for £100m by Jo Bamford, the heir to the JCB fortune, through Avro Heritage. They planned to convert the site during 2012 to host a film studio on the south part of the site, a leisure centre and houses on the north part of the site, including an equestrian centre and a classic car showroom. The golf course and heritage centre on the site planned to extend their leases. The runway would have been kept. BAE agreed as part of the sale to fund a new heritage centre on the site, which became the Avro Heritage Museum.
In 2014, Harrow Estates proposed to convert the site into a housing estate, in cooperation with the local authorities of Stockport and Cheshire East. In July 2014 planning permission for 920 houses as well as shops, a primary school, and open spaces, as well as a heritage museum, was approved by Stockport Council. The Department for Communities and Local Government decided not to hold a public enquiry into the plans, despite opposition by Mark Hunter, the Woodford Community Council and the Woodford Neighbourhood Forum. After asbestos was removed from the site, demolition of the aerodrome started in January 2015. The main aircraft hangar was demolished in February 2015. The demolition of the northern part of the site is scheduled to be completed in July 2015, and demolition of the southern part of the site in December 2015. The construction of the new houses will take place over six years. The runway cross from the aerodrome will become a boulevard lined by trees.