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Dumbarton

Major
Also known as: Barge Park
County: West Dunbartonshire
Current Status: Housing
Date: October 1941 - 8 November 1945; previous minor use
Current Use: Disused
Used By: Civil
Landing Surface Types: Water
Aircraft Roles: Aircraft manufacture

Dumbarton, more famous for its shipbuilding links, was also home to the Blackburn Aircraft factory from 1938. The facility built a few different types of aircraft but most famously the Short Sunderland flying boat, of which around 250 examples were built at the site. Frequent flying at Dumbarton did not begin until October 1941 but at its peak, the site employed around 4,000 people. The factory also enjoyed links with the Marine Aircraft Experimental Establishment (MAEE) at nearby Helensburgh. The last Sunderland left on 8 November 1945, after which other non-aviation forms of manufacture continued until the Blackburn factory closed in 1960, the site subsequently being used by the whisky industry.

A large number of buildings still remained into the 2000s but most were demolished around 2007. The slipway does however still survive.

 

The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have at least potentially significant connections with the airfield (as at 01/01/2020):

  • Dumbarton East and Central Community Council
  • Dumbarton Heritage Centre
  • Dumbarton Library

Notable Past Associated Organisations:

  • Blackburn Aircraft Limited
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Blackburn Aircraft factory site before Maurice Denny, of shipyard fame acquired it in 1937. The old timber ponds and yard are visible in this picture from 1927. They were later put to good use when launching aircraft after dredging. Courtesy of Donald Chisholm
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Aerial view of the camouflaged Blackburn Works, with a Short Sunderland V, 1940s. Beside Denny Shipbuilders and Dumbarton Rock. Courtesy of Donald Chisholm
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Assembling the Short Sunderland fuselage with strips of wood and steel at the Blackburn works, Oct 1942. Courtesy of Donald Chisholm
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The last Blackburn-built Short Sunderland V flying boat passing Dumbarton Rock on 19 October 1945 after launch. It was the 250th Sunderland built at Dumbarton. Courtesy of Donald John Chisholm

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The last Short Sunderland launched at Dumbarton into the River Clyde, October 1945. Courtesy of Donald Chisholm
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The last Short Sunderland flypast at Dumbarton Airfield, beside Dumbarton Rock and Castle, on its way to a Squadron, November 1945. Courtesy of Donald Chisholm

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Aerial view of the Blackburn Works after the war when it made pre fabricated housing. Courtesy of Donald Chisholm
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The former Blackburn Aircraft Factory at Dumbarton, 8 August 2005.

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The site of the former Blackburn Aircraft Factory at Dumbarton, 26 June 2009.

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