Warton is home to 967 (BAE Warton) Squadron Air Training Corps, nicknamed the Warton Wanderers. It is a member of the Cumbria and Lancashire Wing which, in turn, is part of the North Region of the ATC.
The Sqn HQ is based on a small piece of land who’s entrance is accessible from Bank Lane in Warton (see the red place marker on the map). The land is still part of Warton Aerodrome which is owned by BAE Systems, formally British Aerospace, hence the BAE in the Sqn name. A brief history of Warton Aerodrome and BAE Systems can be found here.
After the end of WWII, Warton Aerodrome actually consisted of 3 RAF stations collocated; RAF Freckleton on Hillock Lane, RAF Lytham at the old Land Registry site and RAF Warton with the runways. RAF’s Lytham & Freckleton were used for medical training but these eventually closed down and all medical training was then carried out at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire; RAF Lytham closed first in Jan 1955 when RAF Freckleton then became the RAF Institute of Community Medicine which also moved to Halton in 1962. Most of the land was sold off leaving Warton Aerodrome initially under ownership of the English Electric Company after WWII.
Warton has produced some very famous aircraft by English Electric, namely the Canberra bomber and Lightning fighter but also, after an amalgamation of aerospace companies which created the British Aircraft Corporation, the infamous BAC TSR-2 , Strikemaster (a further development of the Jet Provost), the SEPECAT Jaguar and Panavia Tornado. There is a fascinating archive video on DailyMotion of the Jaguar landing and taking off from the M55 motorway in 1975 followed by some aircraft testing of canopy jettison during flight, stalling and spin testing. After a further name change to British Aerospace (BAE) and finally to BAE Systems, producing the Eurofighter Typhoon and Hawk Trainer.
In 1952, Spitfire MT847 under went Gate Guardian duties at various RAF Stations, including RAF Freckleton, showed circled above. In 1986, it was moved to the Aerospace Museum at RAF Cosford and from March 1995. it has been on loan to the Manchester Museum of Science and Technology.
Back to the history of 967 Sqn, a Royal Warrant was signed on the 24th March 1964, approving the formation of a new unit of the Air Training Corps to be known as No 967 ( Kirkham & South Fylde) Squadron. It is thought that the Sqn may initially have formed at Kirkham, possibly at Kirkham Grammer School but in around 1966, the Sqn moved in to RAF Freckleton and was based in 5 of the Nissan Huts shown in the aerial picture above, just left of the Spitfire (circled), on the right hand side of the Main Gate.
In the late 1980’s, 967 Sqn then moved to Bank Lane in Warton and underwent a name change to 967 (British Aerospace Warton) Sqn.
In January 2020, 2486 (Lytham St Anne’s) Squadron who were based at Lytham High School had to close down due to the fact that the area they were based in, was about to be refurbished and reallocated by the School; 2486 Sqn therefore merged with 967 (BAE Warton) Sqn at Bank Lane, Warton.