History - Hixon Airfield Industrial Estate

Hixon Airfield Industrial Estate is built on a Second World War Airbase. The Airbase opened in May 1942 for RAF Bomber Command. The Airfield had three concrete runways which were strong enough to take the weight of Wellingtons and Bristol Blenheims. The Airfield was also host to Masters, Martinets and Hurricanes.

During the War four Type T2 and one Type B1 hangars were erected. One of the T2 Hangars still remains although it has been reclad and is still in use. The Control Tower also remains and is now the offices of Hixon Airfield Services and the old Guardroom at Entrance A still remains and again is occupied.

Two of the runways still exist and although overgrown in places and are on occasion used by the Police for driver training. The Searchlight shed is also still standing alongside the Control Tower. The runways can be viewed from the public footpath that follows the east and south perimeter tracks.

Pilots at Hixon Airfield during the World War 2. Photo courtesy of Hixon Local History Society

During its operational lifetime RAF Hixon saw a number of air crashes some of which were fatal. On the 13th March 1945 Aircraft BA238, a Bristol Blenheim bomber of 12th squadron crashed in fields south of Hixon during a night time approach. The fate of the crew is unknown.

After the War the airfield was used by the RAF as a storage base until it was finally closed in 1957 and disposed of in 1962.

Along the boundary of the Estate runs the main rail link from Manchester to London. In January 1968 a tragic crash took place at the rail crossing on New Road. Eleven people died and 27 were seriously hurt when the packed passenger train travelling from Manchester to Euston crashed into an abnormal load.

Wellington bombers being refuelled at Hixon Airfield during World War 2. Photo courtesy of Imperial War Museum.

The crash, which became known as the Hixon Rail Disaster, happened as a low loader was being driven across one of the new continental style level crossings. Rescue and salvage teams worked all day and night throughout the second weekend of 1968 in the grim search both for bodies and for clues as to how the crash happened.

Witnesses said the 150-ton transformer on the low loader reached the crossing and started to go over. According to one eye witness the driver saw the train coming and accelerated in an attempt to get clear of the oncoming express but the load seemed to stop just before the train hit it.

One of the heroines of the disaster turned out to be GP Dr Ann Foster from the nearby village of Great Haywood. She gave pain killing injections and comfort to the stricken passengers after turning up to be met by the full horror of the crash.

The level crossing no longer exists and has since been replaced with a road bridge over the railway line.

Firemen on the roof of a train carriage during the Hixon Rail Disaster in January 1968. Photo courtesy of Hixon Local History Society