Apperknowle Airfield: One of Northern England’s Most Esoteric Airstrips

apperknowle-airfield-derbyshire-sheffield (Image: John Poyser; quiet hangars at Apperknowle Airport)

A couple of years ago, in an amusing satirical blog post about Apperknowle International, “the gateway to Dronfield,” Dronfield Digital wrote: “Dronfield’s best kept secret hangs surreptitiously above the valley in the rolling hills of Apperknowle,” a small Derbyshire village to the south of Sheffield.

The tiny, little-known airfield originally constructed by British Steel PLC is easily missed from the road, and many who live around and about it have no idea that it even exists. Little more than a grass strip and a cluster of small hangars, some more ramshackle than others, Apperknowle Airfield nevertheless remains the area’s only surviving landing ground (with the exception of Robin Hood International, which is closer to Doncaster than it is to Sheffield).

apperknowle-airfield-derbyshire-sheffield-2 (Image: John Poyser; more of a farmer’s field than an airfield)

Tongue-in-cheek as the article may be, its assertion that “the region’s last attempt at a gateway to [the] skies didn’t so much take off as crash land in a flaming ball of despair” pretty much sums it up. Sheffield City Airport, which was ideally located close to the city centre, was built with a runway of inadequate length to accommodate even smaller passenger jets used by low-cost airlines, and closed amid much controversy in 2008.

apperknowle-airfield-derbyshire-sheffield-4 (Image: Google Earth; hangars and small grass airstrip)

Earlier this year it was reported that the runway would be demolished, removing all hope of any future reactivation. Robin Hood International, meanwhile, started life as RAF Finningley and has one of the country’s longest runways. But a combination of poor transport links (such as a railway line with no station) and competition from more successful regional airports like Leeds Bradford have led to financial hardship.

apperknowle-airfield-derbyshire-sheffield-3 (Image: Peter Barr; beware low flying aircraft)

But Apperknowle on the other hand, with at least one resident light aircraft, appears to be going strong. The fact that it isn’t clearly visible from the nearby road and enjoys relatively few aircraft movements makes it one of the more esoteric airfields featured on Urban Ghosts to date. But with the demise of Sheffield City Airport, Apperknowle is now at the beating heart of aviation activity in the city’s immediate environs.

Related – 5 Abandoned Cold War Airfields of Britain


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