Record Details

NHER Number:13631
Type of record:Monument
Name:World War One Aeroplane and Seaplane Station, South Denes, Great Yarmouth.


A World War One airfield, used by the Royal Naval Air Service, and from 1918 the Royal Air Force. After the war, the airfield was used for commercial flights until the 1930s. Standing buildings, the foundations of former structures and the possible remains of the former airstrip are visible on aerial photographs from the 1940s. A large building, used as a store, and two barracks from World War One survived on the site, and the large building had internal defensive positions. The buildings have now been demolished.

Images - none


Grid Reference:TG 5315 0470
Map Sheet:TG50SW

Full description

1913 to at least 1918.
South Denes Royal Naval Air Service aerodrome (on site of old racecourse) and seaplane beach on adjacent shore.
In fact the whole southern part of the peninsula was in use at various times.
Flying continued for commercial purposes well in 1930s.
For complete history see (S1) and (S2).

One major building remains as store on sea front, and two barracks as camper's toilets.
Information from source [1].
Model of airfield in Great Yarmouth Museum.
E. Rose (NAU), 4 November 1982.

December 1996.
One of the surviving buildings, the 'old air shed' is derelict and earmarked for demolition.
The toilet block has already gone.
D. Gurney (NLA), 16 December 1996

March 1997. See photocopies of photographs (S3) in file.
Note building had defensive positions inside.
D. Gurney (NLA) 11 March 1997.

D. Gurney (NLA) reports that all buildings were demolished before January 2005.
E. Rose (NLA), 1 February 2005.

February 2005.
A concrete raft and foundation walls survive at ground level.
See (S4).
D. Robertson (NLA), 7 December 2005.


March 2006. Norfolk NMP.
The site of the South Denes Royal Naval Air Service aerodrome and seaplane base is visible on aerial photographs from the 1940s (S6-S8). Some standing structures still remain and the foundations of other former structures and concrete surfaces are visible on the ground in amongst the World War Two defensive structures, see NHER 43323 for details. These foundations and structural remains are largely consistent with the layout of the site recorded in the 1918 survey of the installation undertaken by the RAF (S5). The site is centred on TG 5314 0475.

The remains of the possible runway associated with the World War One aerodrome may be visible in 1941 as a long linear strip of disturbed and slightly higher ground, running from TG 5303 0508 to TG 5308 0450 (S6). This varies in width from 20m to 40m and is approximately 580m long. The aerodrome is recording as having been situated in-between the two sets of sheds and other station buildings lining the sea and the foreshore (S5) and this would fit with the location of the linear feature on the aerial photographs.

In 1941 a group of five rectangular barrack huts, all measuring approximately 19m by 6m, is visible centred on TG 5319 0491 (S6). By 1944 only two of these remain standing (S7) and later get used as toilet blocks. An additional smaller rectangular structure is also visible on the aerial photographs to the seaward side of the sheds. Also standing in the 1940s is large rectangular shed adjacent to the sea front at TG 5327 0463, see s. This has a pillbox inserted into the structure during World War Two and survives in the 21st century, see above for details. The foundations of former structures visible in the 1940s suggest that a similar sized and oriented shed stood 40m to the north, which possibly remains of central posts or supports (S8).

The foundations and associated concrete surface, which is constructed on a grid of squares, of the seaplane station covers 450m of the seafront. The majority of the features are too indistinct to allow interpretation. Only those marked on the 1918 map can be identified with any certainty (S5).

At TG 5322 0484 the foundations of one of the large seaplane sheds can be seen, measuring approximately 62m by 32m, as marked on the 1918 survey (S5). To the south of the site the other two large seaplane shed footings can be seen at TG 5324 0453 and TG 5325 0445. Two of the smaller seaplane sheds marked on the plan are visible within the foundations at TG 5320 0481 and TG 5320 0478. Two other seaplane sheds are located at TG 5321 0471 and TG 5321 0468. All four of these sheds have T-shaped area which has not been surfaced with concrete. The most likely explanation for these unsurfaced areas is inspection pits or dry docks for undertaking maintenance on the seaplanes.

At TG 5322 0460 is a rectangular concrete building platform, 21m by 9.5m, which is raised up from the ground surface giving it a terraced appearance. Three concrete ramps or paths lead to the building. It is not clear whether the uneven ground necessitated this terracing or whether it served an operational function. To the immediate northeast, at TG 5323 0461, is a small square structure, 3,5m across (S3). It is possible that this is a World War Two defensive component, such as a pillbox, however the structure appears to be aligned with the foundations and surfaces associated with the World War Two seaplane station.
S. Massey (NMP), 01 March 2006

Monument Types

  • AIRFIELD (Early 20th Century to 21st Century - 1901 AD to 2100 AD)
  • BUILDING PLATFORM (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • MILITARY AIRFIELD (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • MILITARY BUILDING (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • RUNWAY? (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • SEAPLANE BASE (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • SEAPLANE SHED (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • STRUCTURE (World War One - 1914 AD to 1918 AD)
  • PILLBOX (World War Two - 1939 AD to 1945 AD)

Associated Finds - none

Protected Status - none

Sources and further reading

---Serial: Dobinson, C.S.. 1996. Twentieth Century Fortifications in England.. Vol 1(2), p 300.
---Record Card: NAU Staff. 1974-1988. Norfolk Archaeological Index Primary Record Card.
---Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1945. RAF 106G/UK/927 6095-8 16-OCT-1945 (NMR).
---Secondary File: Secondary File.
<S1>Article in Serial: 1973. Airfields of Norfolk and Suffolk. Norfolk and Suffolk Aviation Museum.
<S2>Article in Serial: [Unknown]. [unknown]. [unknown]. Yarmouth Archaeology. Vol 1, no 5. Vol 1, no.5.
<S3>Photograph: Unknown. 13631.
<S4>Unpublished Document: Hamilton, K.. 2005. 13631 RNAS Yarmouth. Survey.
<S5>Unpublished Document: RAF. 1918. Quarterly survey of RAF station: Volume 5 - Marine operations stations 1918.
<S6>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1941. RAF 268F/BR172 17-19 10-FEB-1941 (NMR).
<S7>Vertical Aerial Photograph: RAF. 1944. RAF 106G/LA/21 3014-6 04-JUL-1944 (NMR).

Related records - none

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