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Abridge (Essex) (Loughton)


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Famous aviator Tom Campbell Black was given special dispensation to arrange a British Empire Air Display at Abridge on 28 June 1936 which attracted 5,000 visitors. He had previously won the London to Melbourne Centenary Air Race with C.W.A. Scott in 1934, winning £10,000.

Also known as: Abridge Aerodrome / Essex Airport / Loughton Air Park
County: Essex
Current Status: Farmland
Date: 29 November 1932 - 7 August 1937; subsequent minor use to September 1939
Current Use: Disused
Used By: Civil
Landing Surface Types: Unpaved
Aircraft Roles: General aviation

There is mention of an airfield at Abridge in October 1930 when the South Essex Aero Club obtained land in the area. However, the club had acquired another airstrip by March 1931 so it is unclear whether Abridge was ever used. Sir Alan Cobham staged one of his flying displays here on 16 July 1932 but it was not until 29 November that the site was officially licensed as a private airfield.

Abridge officially opened as Essex Airport on 17 June 1933 although it became better known as Loughton or Loughton Air Park. The owner of the airfield, Wilfred J. Lewington, set up a company called Commercial Airways (Essex) Limited with the hope of starting a flying school. The ambitious Lewington also intended Commercial Airways to provide regular services to many parts of Britain as well as air taxi and charter operations, joyriding, stunt exhibitions, parachuting and wing walking. However, the company could only operate one flyable aircraft, a First World War Bristol Fighter. The flying school never came to fruition and the Bristol machine as well as two de Havilland Moths and another Bristol Fighter that was not certificated were all scrapped.

The East Anglian Aero Club did operate for a time at Abridge. The airfield’s landing area was extended but a poor quality grass surface led to Lewington lacking the official acknowledgement for ‘all types’ aircraft use. Buildings at the site consisted of just one main hangar and three smaller lock-ups with a clubhouse on the south side. The airfield had a maximum landing run of between 2,400 and 3,000 feet but a railway line running alongside the site and its proximity to Stapleford Tawney meant that this was never an ideal location for an airfield.

Abridge was left vacant by 1 April 1936 and declared unfit for use on 17 June. Atlas Air Services and Abridge Flying Club subsequently used the airfield but it again lost its licence on 7 August 1937. Private light aircraft continued to use it occasionally in an unlicenced capacity from spring 1938 until the outbreak of the Second World War. There are no physical remains of the airfield and the site is now used for farmland and dissected by the M11.


The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have at least potentially significant connections with the airfield (as at 01/07/2013):

  • Loughton & District Historical Society
  • Loughton Library
  • Theydon Bois Parish Council

Main unit(s) present:

  • Atlas Air Services

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