Monument record MYO3586 - Military Airfield Rawcliffe / Clifton Airfield


The former site of a Pre-War airfield and World War Two military airfield. The civilian aerodrome was built in 1936. It formed an Royal Air Force airfield 1939-45, where Halifax bombers were overhauled and repaired. The wartime station was known as Clifton, York and also Rawcliffe. It consisted of three concrete runways and was equipped with Type T1, Blister and Robin aircraft hangars as well as existing civil hangars. The airfield closed in 1952 and was subsequently built over for housing and a trading estate.


Grid reference Centred SE 5904 5490 (1728m by 1699m) (8 map features)
Map sheet SE55SE
Civil Parish Rawcliffe, City of York, North Yorkshire
Civil Parish Skelton, City of York, North Yorkshire
Unitary Authority City of York, North Yorkshire
Civil Parish Clifton Without, City of York, North Yorkshire


Type and Period (2)

Full Description

Land for an airfield at this site was originally purchased by York Corporation in June 1934, and it was opened in 1936 and operated by Yorkshire Aviation Services. The airfield was then requisitioned by the RAF in September 1939, and during its lifetime it was used by RAF Bomber Command, RAF Army Cooperation Command, the Fleet Air Arm, RAF Fighter Command and RAF Maintenance Command.

Between 1941 and 1948, the site became an important Civilian Repair Unit for the nearby Yorkshire operational airfields which used Halifax bombers. Several large engineering complexes were built and some 4,000 people were employed at the works, mostly women; more than 2,000 Halifax bombers were repaired here during the war. The airfield was also used by various other RAF squadrons, flying Westland Lysanders and single-seater American fighters, and the site was bombed and damaged during the York ‘Baedeker’ raid of 28th-29th April 1942. The RAF left in 1946 but the site was used to dismantle a large number of Halifax bombers up until 1948. Part of the military airfield also returned to civilian use for a short period of time, but the site was officially closed in 1952. Much of the former military infrastructure survived until the 1980s, when most of the airfield on the south side of the A1237 was developed for housing and the Clifton Moor Retail Park.

Surrounding the airfield were numerous dispersal pens and other structures. See figure 9 within SYO2595

SYO2595 A1237 York Northern Outer Ring Road: Clifton Moor Junction EDAS

NMR Information:

Clifton airfield, now disused. It was a civilian aerodrome built in 1936. It formed an RAF airfield 1939-45, where Halifax bombers were overhauled and repaired. (1)

Clifton was also known as York and Rawcliffe. In 1942 the airfield was attacked by the Luftwaffe, desyroying one hangar. Source 2 gives details of the Halifax repair and overhauling work and of the prewar civilian airfield. During the War the airfield was under the control of Army Cooperation Command for a short period and then mainly Bomber Command. (2)

York Airfield, SE 590 550. The wartime airfield consisted of three concrete runways with Blister, T1 and B Robin design aircraft hangars. Souce 3 notes that in December 1944 the aifield was under the control of 12 Group Fighter Command (this is not mentioned in souce 2). By 1985 the site was built over for housing. (3)

1 Vertical aerial photograph reference number NMR HLA 552 PRU 5 138 03-JUN-1942
3 Airfield review 4,5 9, 1988
4 Military airfields in the British Isles 1939-1945 224 Steve Willis and Barry Holliss

On Site Archaeology, 2015, Whitehall Grange, Wigginton Road (Unpublished document). SYO1852.

Ed Dennison, 2020, A1237 York Northern Outer Ring Road (Unpublished document). SYO2595.

York Archaeological Trust, 2020, Whitehall Grange, Wigginton Road EVA (Unpublished document). SYO2531.

Sources/Archives (3)

  • --- Unpublished document: On Site Archaeology. 2015. Whitehall Grange, Wigginton Road.
  • --- Unpublished document: York Archaeological Trust. 2020. Whitehall Grange, Wigginton Road EVA.
  • --- Unpublished document: Ed Dennison. 2020. A1237 York Northern Outer Ring Road.

Protected Status/Designation

  • None recorded

Related Monuments/Buildings (20)

Related Events/Activities (5)

Record last edited

Mar 29 2021 9:55AM


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