Flying high from Chesterfield’s own airport at Tapton

This blog takes a quick look at an airport planned in Tapton (but usually described as at Calow) during the 1950s and 1960s.

Taken form the Derbyshire Times 12 July 1956 – the Mayor of Chesterfield poses in front of a Westland helicopter at the proposed Calow municipal airport, now the site of Chesterfield Royal Hospital.

Chesterfield was not alone in promoting local airports in the 1950s, but a local proposal never really came to fruition and has now been forgotten. And its link with Brimington and Tapton? It was scheduled to be on land near to the latter township.

There were suggestions in the early 1950s that Chesterfield Corporation might build a municipal airport on ground near Ploverhill farm, Tapton. As it near to Calow it was usually described as at that parish.

Chesterfield Rural District Council was against the proposals in 1953. They were concerned about noise disturbance to residents at their nearby housing estate proposals for Calow. Despite this Chesterfield Corporation continued to pursue the idea, no doubt egged on by some of the many companies in the area who saw it as useful for business travel. The airport was only ever seen as being suitable for light aircraft, in particular helicopters.

In 1956 Markham & Co. had arranged a trial helicopter to visit the site, which received coverage in the Derbyshire Times, as we illustrate on this page.

The second photograph is from the autumn of 1964. It shows councillors and businessmen standing in front of a large Sikorsky helicopter at the site. They were taken for a fly around the area. The helicopter was owned by British European Airways.

But it all came to nothing. Chesterfield Corporation put the proposal ‘on ice’ in early 1966.

At least some of the land was later used for the new Royal Hospital, opened in 1984. Perhaps the irony is that today emergency services helicopters fairly regularly land at the hospital site. But today’s use is certainly of a more urgent nature than 1964’s fly around the area by the town’s Mayor, councillors and local business leaders.

Derbyshire Times 2 October 1964. Members of Chesterfield Corporation councillors and businessmen standing in front of a large Sikorsky helicopter at the airport site. They were taken for a fly around the area.

This is one of series of articles based on a talk given to the local history group on ‘New thoughts on Brimington’s and Tapton’s History’.

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