SPLOTT AERODROME;CARDIFF MUNICIPAL AIRPORT;RAF CARDIFF, PENGAM MOOR, SPLOTT
Map Reference ST27NW
Grid Reference ST215770
Unitary (Local) Authority Cardiff
Old County Glamorgan
Type of Site AIRPORT
Broad Class TRANSPORT
Period 20th Century, Modern
Site Description Event and Historical Information:
The area was used from the early days of flying and was opened as a civilian aerodrome in September 1931. It was originally called Splott, but had become Cardiff Municipal Airport by 1936. The early facilities were a few wooden huts. To protect the grass strip from flooding, a sea wall had to be built. Commercial scheduled services began in 1932, when British Air Navigation Co Ltd operated a service using Fokker Spiders, Fox Moths and DeHavilland Dragons between Bristol and Cardiff. In April 1933, Great Western Railway Air Service began flights to Haldon and Plymouth using a Westland Wessex. The service was later extended to include Birmingham. In 1934, the company was amalgamated in the new Railway Air Service Company and began to use De Havilland 84 Dragons. A service linking to Plymouth and Liverpool was inaugurated which continued until 1938. In 1933, Western Airways also launched a service to Weston-super-Mare later extended to Bournemouth. In May 1935, a continental service was introduced to Le Touquet and Paris. In 1939, the Air Transport Licensing Authority came into being and gave Western Airways the monopoly for airline flights from Cardiff. New terminal building and hangars were built around this time. On the outbreak of war, Pengam Moor was requisitioned by the Air Ministry and renamed RAF Cardiff to be the short-lived home for the civilian aircraft pooled to become the National Air Communication Unit. In November 1940, 8 Anti-Aircraft Unit (AACU) were based at the airfield with a variety of civilian aircraft, Blenheims and Lysanders. The unit was re-equipped with De Havilland Dominies and Rapides, and then Airspeed Oxfords and Miles Martinets. The unit was dispersed to be amalgamated into other squadrons in December 1943. In February 1940, 43 Maintenance Unit (MU) were based at Pengam Moor packing and despatching aircraft overseas. In 1941, a new Bellman hangar was built and a Sommerfield trackway installed. New areas of hardstanding were developed to cope with the throughput of aircraft. In 1942, a 853m (2,800ft) concrete runway replaced the grass strip. 43 MU closed in October 1945 and civilian flying began again in January 1946. The airfield became redundant when civilian flying was transferred to Rhoose (nprn 307837) on 01 April 1954.
Defence of Britain Project
Jones, I, 2003, Cardiff Airfields
Jones, I, 2007, Airfields and Landing Grounds of Wales: South, pg27-39
Phillips, Alan, 2006, Military Airfields Wales, pg 174-180
Smith, David J, 1982, Action Stations 3: Military Airfields of Wales and the North West, pg131-3
RCAHMW, June 2008.
In 1963/4 a factory, comprising two vast sheds one either side of the former main runway at its northern end, was erected to manufacture transmissions and axles for Rover and Land Rover vehicles. The airfield's perimeter track was upgraded and named 'Rover Way', presumably at about this time. The factory closed in November 1984. The airfield site continues to be redeveloped with housing and industrial units; the names of some of the new roads recall the former airfield and include Runway Road, Seawall Road, Hawker Close, Handley Road, Halifax Close, Clos Avro and De Havilland Road, amongst others. It is unlikely that any buildings associated with the aerodrome, within the perimeter track, have survived. However, to the south west of the airfield, in Seawall Road south of Willows Avenue and centred on ST20807640, four hangars and associated buildings are visible on RAF photography dated 01 March 1941, with a fifth hangar erected by 25 June 1942 and a substantial rail-served factory added to the west a little later, certainly by 30 May 1947. The hangars were camouflaged in a similar manner to the two within the airfield by being painted to look like rows of houses. According to 2013 Ordnance Survey mapping, three of the hangars may survive, along with various ancilliary buildings, although re-clad and re-roofed and in use for light industrial purposes.
The northwestern part of the airfield has now been designated Tremorfa Park; just inside the former entrance to the airfield (off Whitaker Road), stands a monument comprising a squat stone pillar set on a circular plinth, with two natural boulders placed nearby. Local people remember a sundial on the plinth, but the plate and gnomon are now missing.
B.A.Malaws, RCAHMW, 22 January 2015.