Sunday 3rd March 2019
Having enjoyed almost a week of unbroken sunshine and record breaking February temperatures (our thanks go to Rob Cook for organising an airflow all the way from the Canaries) it was back with a bump on this early March ride with Storm Freya hitting the headlines. The worst of the weather was expected to be with us after 3 pm so the idea was to be back home in good time. In light of the forecast it was surprising therefore to have such a great turnout of the club. Tim Newbery was joined by John Ambler, John Rickett, Bernie Hobill, Rob Whitworth, Alan Hockham and we were pleased also to see Chris Owen at the start after having ridden from Binbrook.
Today's route harked back to the the early days with a ride out on the A157 to the reservoir before taking the A631 to South Elkington. A climb up to Church Farm at 125 m (410 ft) with Bernie making it look easy. Continuing onto Julian's Farm we passed by the former RAF Kelstern and the stone of remembrance to RAF 625 Squadron. Nearby, there’s an interesting piece of history still visible today with connections to Grimsby.
Flying first took place at Kelstern in 1916 and the airfield was intended to be a refuge for 33 Squadron's Zeppelin hunters if they were low on fuel. The Second World War airfield was built in 1942 and became operational in 1943 as part of Number 1 Group. Most famously it was the home for 625 Squadron's Avro Lancaster's and the T2 hangers built to fit.
Early 1945, RAF Kelstern was selected for trials on how to house the incoming Avro Lincoln, which was due to enter service later that year. The standard T2 hangars were too small (the wingspan of the Lincoln being much greater than that of the Lancaster), so a new way of manoeuvring the aircraft had to be devised. The solution was to lay tram tracks taken up from nearby Grimsby and lay them across the apron and into the hangar. A specially made trolley was placed on the tracks as to be able to manoeuver the Lincoln sideways into the hangar. A Lincoln prototype was specially flown into RAF Kelstern to test the system to which it passed with flying colours. Ironically, after all this testing, the system was not needed. The aircraft finally entered service in the Summer of 1945 at a time when many of the airfields with the smaller hangars were being closed, so the system was never implemented at any other airfield. However, the tram rails still lie at the site of the trials hangar.
Visit and guided history tour completed, the group continued through Great Tows and onto the Viking Way Coffee House at Ludford Magna for well earned refreshments. The adjacent WWII airfield was yet another Bomber Command station but that's a story for another time.
So far, the weather had been benign with just the occasional outbreak of light rain and a decision was made to continue as planed to Binbrook and an opportunity for anyone wishing to dine at The Plough. Perhaps also a chance to sample a pint of the Reverend James.
Chris at this point bade farewell having ridden 33 miles and having escaped the worst of the weather. For the remaining team a ride up to Binbrook Hall, skies by now becoming increasing dark and foreboding. The rain became increasingly heavy and persistent by the time we had made our way to North Elkington and John Rickett sensibly made his way home to Fotherby whilst the Louth contingent made a character building journey back to Louth.
Many thanks to all for a none the less enjoyable ride with the usual camaraderie. About 30 miles for thew Louth contingent and 33 miles for Chris.