Excavation will reveal more of Montrose air station's history

More of the history of Britain’s first operational military airfield will be revealed as part of a new initiative between Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre and ZeroFour, the new tech hub owned by Crown Estate Scotland.

By
Mark Dowie
Wednesday, 27th July 2022, 12:00pm
Excavation will reveal more of Montrose air station's history

Established in 1913, Montrose Air Station was home to No. 8 Flying Training School and played a vital role in training pilots and securing victory during both World Wars.

During the Second World War, it was home to Hurricanes and Spitfires which defended the strategically vital Firth of Forth. In 1941, the need to urgently provide runways saw the laying of Sommerfield Tracking – wire mesh, nicknamed ‘Tin Lino’, which enabled flat grassed areas to be used as improvised take-off and landing sites.

This is now to be excavated, helping to preserve an important part of the former RAF Montrose site, the north-east section of which is home to ZeroFour - a purpose-built innovation hub supporting green enterprise which takes its name from the airfield’s original runway call sign, ‘04 22’.

The project will be overseen by experts in dealing with unexploded ordnance, which may lie beneath the surface. The site was scanned in 2019 although no ordnance was found. As the mesh on the runway sections could not be penetrated, however, additional scans will be carried out during the excavation.

For safety reasons, there will be restrictions on public access to those areas where the four-week operation is taking place, although Crown Estate Scotland has said that these are minimised.

Excavations are expected to begin in September and information signs will be posted. Improved fencing will also be erected, along with new access gates, replacing dilapidated structures on the southern and western edge of the site.

Stuart Archibald, MASHC chairperson, said: “The excavation will help preserve the very materials which enabled RAF aircraft to operate successfully. This project is a truly fitting tribute to those who helped defend Britain during two World Wars.”

Jamie Macfarlane, built development manager at Crown Estate Scotland added: “The airfield has a tremendously rich history, and we are very excited to be working with the local community to help preserve its heritage and tell its story to a wider audience."

“Montrose Air Station Heritage Centre is an important national asset that does a wonderful job explaining the history of RAF Montrose. Looking to the future, ZeroFour will champion innovation and new ideas as we help support clean, green economic growth in the region.”

ZeroFour will support the development of businesses with a focus on the blue and green economies, including offshore wind. It will also provide space for traditional enterprises and champion new technology, research, and development.

It is expected that preparation and infrastructure works will commence in winter 2022/23 and serviced plots will be ready for businesses to access from 2023.

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