During the first 3 decades of the twentieth century,Bournemouth was well to the forefront in aviation.Over that period there were three land aerodromes in the area as well as what amounted to a water aerodrome at Bournemouth Pier.
The third airfield was at Ensbury Park(Red cross hatched area on map above)less than a mile north of the Talbot Village aerodrome.Effectively this new 88 acre aerodrome took over from Talbot Village at the end of 1917 .In 1918 the RFC moved in with the Wireless Telephony School and tghe airfield became known as RFC Winton.However , with the end of the War the RFC/RAF left in April 1919.
In May 1919 the airfield opened for use by civil aviation ,including spasmodic passenger services.The inaugral peacetime flight from the aerodrome was in May 1919 when an ex-RFC Handley Page 0/400 D8350 arrived piloted by Lt.Col William Sholto-Douglas.
In June 1919 ,Bournemouth Aviation Co .started an"Aerial passenger Service" between Cricklewood and Bournemouth using the Handley Page HP 0/400 aircraft. The inaugural flight arrived at Ensbury park at 6pm carrying the Mayor of Bournemouth(Mr.E.E.Bishop),the Town Clerk(Mr H Ashling) and the ex-Mayor (Alderman Robson).
Boournemouth Aviation also operated 5 Avro 504K/Ls - G-EADR (reg'd 10-7-19), G-EAHK(12-8-19), G-EARZ, ASA,ASB( all Reg'd 12-4-20)...'RZ crashed in Sept 1920.
Photo below shows G-EADR before the registration was applied - still carrying RAF marks D6245.
In September 1919 the civilianized FE2b D3832(Later reregistered G-EAHC) visited and gave joyrides.Pictured below on the occasion 12th September 1919.
Air services became established,and with club flying, the occasional air show etc.the aerodrome fared well.During the ensueing years a grandstand and race circuits for both horse and greyhound racing were constructed .
In 1926 things took a more ambitious turn with plans for air racing at the aerodrome.The course used is shown above, direction of travel was anticlockwise. The initial meeting "The Bournemouth Summer Aviation Race Meeting" took place on the August 21/22nd weekend , with no less than eight events available .Each event cost just 10 shillings to enter ,with prize money of up to £100 for the main event "The Bournemouth Summer Handicap".The races would be conducted by the Royal Aero Club under the Competition Rules of the Royal Aero Club
The full list of entries was published in "Flight" magazine in the August 19rth edition.All races were well supported.........
The course was triangular ...approx 5miles ...Ensbury Park Aerodrome ->East Parley->Kinson Manor Farm. Race. 1:Light Aeroplane Instructors Scratch Race....4 entries....Winner Capt.F G M Sparks in DH60 Moth G-EBLI. 2:Private Club Handicap.9 entries including the French S.E.C.M. Hispano Suiza F-AIAQ...six started... Winner Capt G. de Havilland DH60 Moth G-EBNO 3:Bournemouth Summer Handicap....20 entries...14 started in 3 heats...Winner D A N Watt Sopwith Swallow G-EACZ. 4:Light Aeroplane Club Members Scratch Race...5 entries...4 started...Winner Mrs Elliott-Lynn ,DH60 Moth G-EBLI 5:Christchurch Sprint...8 entries...Winner W.L.Hope DH60 Moth G-EBME. 6:Private Owners Handicap.... 12 entries ...Eight started...Winner W.L.Hope DH60 Moth G-EBME. 7:Boscombe High Power Handicap....7 entries....only 3 started..Winner A.S.Butler in DH37 G-ABDO. 8:Ensbury Park Low Power Handicap....13 entries...Winner Capt G. de Havilland DH60 Moth G-EBNO Races 1,2,5 & 8 were held on the Saturday, 3,4,6 & 7 on Sunday . Other events included Parachute demo,Bomb dropping Competions,Aerobatics etc.
Various plans for the 1927 season of races were announced early in the year.This included a controversial announcement by the Royal Aero Club to hold the King's Cup Air Race at Bournemouth.Controversy eventually won the day in this instance and the race took place at Nottingham
Less controversial however was the Bournemouth Easter Meeting .Twenty races were planned - to take place over the Easter Weekend on the 15th,16th & 18th of April. There would be no Sunday racing due to local objections to such activity. In addition a Whitsun meeting on June 4th and 6th was planned with eight races.
Twenty eight aircraft were present for the meeting, one of which , a Blackburn Bluebird ,was shot at by a farmer who apparently objected to the event.Joy rides were available and Imperial Airways sent a HP9A Hampstead to do sightseeing trips.
The event was blessed with generally good ,if somewhat blustery, weather.The only complaint from the competitors was the total lack of hangarage at the aerodrome
LEFT: General view of the Racecourse and aerodrome...RIGHT:Westland Widgeon III G-EBPWRACES. Friday April 15. 1:Boscombe Stakes:3 starters:Winner Capt F Sparks in Dh60 Moth G-EBMF. 2:Poole Handicap:7 starters:winner Lc Col G Henderson in Avro 548 G-EBAJ. 3:Christchurch Handicap Stakes:4 starters:Winner G H Craig,Bristol Brownie G-EBJM. 4:Ensbury park Stakes:5 starters:Winner Mr Lucas, Bristol Brownie G-EBJM. 5:Branksome Cirrus Handicap Stakes:14 starters/2 heats:Winner H S Broad ,DH60 G-EBNO Saturday April 16th. 1:Bournemouth Easter High Power Handicap:5 starters,Winner Mr Waghorn Avro Gosport G-EBNE 2:Winton Handicap:10 starters:Winner Fl.Lt N Comper CLA.4 G-EBPB. 3:Bournemouth Aerial Oaks:2 starters:Winner Miss O'Brien DH60 G-EBKT 4:Bournemouth & District Business Houses Handicap:18 starters/2 heats:Winner A Youell Avro 548 G-EBAJ Monday 18th April 1:Bournemouth & District Hotel & Restaurants Assoc:18 starters/2 heats:Winner Col SempilL DH60 G-EBOU 2:Kill Joy Trophy:9 starter:Winner Lt Col G Henderson Avro 548 G-EBAJ 3:Holiday Final Handicap:18 starters/3 heats:winnerCol Sempill,DH60 G-EBOU. There were two landings away from the Aerodrome... First was Westland Widgeon III G-EBPW(Mr England)- turned over on forced landing .no casualties. Second was Hawker Cygnet G-EBJH(Mr Ragg) safe forced landing.
Altogether a very successfull Race meeting that finished with everybody looking forward to the Whitsun event.
The Whitsun 1927 Air Race Meeting at Bournemouth Ensbury Park Racecourse, eagerly awaited by the participants ,would prove to be the swansong of air racing at Bournemouth.
The event - held on June the 4th & 6th comprised 8 races ( with some to be held in heats).There were a total of 97 entries in the 8 events by a total of 26 different aircraft.
Unfortunately things got off to a bad start with a fatal accident during the morning of June 4th when DH37 G-EBDO ,piloted by Major H Hemming,hit the scoreboard on take off.The aircraft crashed in front of the enclosures.The pilot was severely injured and passenger Mr C St John Plevins died later in hospital.
This tragedy apparently(and not surprisingly) put a bit of a damper on proceedings although all the events planned for the day did take place.However worse was to come when racing resumed on Monday the 6th June.
The first race of the day on the Monday was the "Medium Power Handicap" with 12 aircraft starting (picture of start above)- all in one single heat.sometime around the end of the second lap two aircraft collided, crashed and burned ,killing both pilots Squadron Ldr W H Longton and L P Openshaw.
After some delay and discusion it was decided to continue the racing, albeit with the restriction that no more than three aircraft participate in any one heat.
RACES 2nd June. 1:Low Power Handicap:4 Starters:Winner F O Mackenzie Richards DH53 G-EBQP 2:Ladies Race:3 starters:Mrs Elliott-Lynn G-EBPW Westland Widgeon. 3:Private Owbers Handicap:7 starters:Winner Bert Hunkler Avian G-EBOV 4 Bournemouth Hotel's Association Sweepstake:11 starters/2 heats:winner D Watt G-EBQL Avro Avian 4th June 5:Medium Power Handicap:12 Starters:Winner Courtney DH60 G-EBOI[G-EBKD Bluebird (S/L W H Longton), and G-EBPW Westland Widgeon(L P Openshaw) collided during race- both pilots killed]. 6:High Power Handicap:3 starters:Winner S/Ldr Rea BP P9 G-EAWS. 7:The Bournemouth & District Business Houses Sweepstyake:14 Starters/5 heats/2 semi finals:Winner S/Ldr Rea BP P9 G-EAWS.
The tragedies of the Whitsun weekend marked the beginning of the end for Ensbury Park. There was no more air racing and very little flying.By around 1930 all flying had ceased, shortly followed by an end to horse racing. Within 2 years the site was turned over to the developers for housing.
This left Bournemouth without an airport- and in fact , Christchurch aerodrome eventually became known as "Bournemouth Airport" in the mid 1930s.