BARTON HALL - HISTORY
Before the existing Barton hall was built, the Barton family lived for many generations in a Manor House situated in Barton village to the north of the present building. As early as 1275, in the reign of Edward I, we find mention of an arraignment against Agnes, daughter of Gilbert de Barton, touching lands in Barton, and towards the close of the 15th century there is record of a Gilbert Barton who was outlawed for trespass. History reveals that the early residence subsequently became a farmhouse and in 1786 a manorial residence on the present site was re designated Barton Hall. Charles Roger Jacson, son of founder member of the well known cotton firm – Horrocks Jacson & Co., of Preston – acquired ownership in 1846 and throughout forty seven years as Squire he became a great local benefactor and left much to charity. After his death, in October 1893, no purchaser could be found willing to pay the £104,000 asked for Barton Hall and in consequence the estate was divided into lots by the Trustees and sold by auction.
is not at all clear if indeed, Barton Hall was again much occupied in
the years before 1910 when ownership transferred to John Booth Esq., a
member of the well known Lancashire firm of Grocers and Provisions merchants
and, for several years leading up to World War II, Mr Davis W Miller,
a farmer was the owner.
Soon after the outbreak of World War II, it was decided, for the more effective protection of North West England, North Wales and the Western Approaches to form No.9 Fighter Group. Barton Hall was requisitioned for the Royal Air Force in July 1940 and on 9th August the Group Headquarters began to form, and set up the North West Filter Room within its precincts.
Throughout the ensuing three years valuable service was rendered in defence of the Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham areas and, apart from much air/ sea rescue work in the Irish Sea and adjoining waters, the Group accounted for no less than 36 enemy aircraft destroyed, 10 probably destroyed and 27 damaged. Henceforth, as the threat to the North West receded, Headquarters 9 Group assumed responsibility for several Operational Training Units and by the time of its disbandonment on 17th September 1944, it had administered some forty stations, operating eighteen different types of aircraft flown by airmen of at least seven nations. His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, Marshall of the Royal Air Force Sir Edwards Ellington, Air Marshall W. Sholto Douglas and the Air Minister Sir Archibald Sinclair, were amongst the most distinguished visitors to Barton hall during the war years.
During the latter part of 1944 Barton Hall functioned as an Education and Vocational Training Centre under the control of Headquarters No. 12 Group, but lapsed to a Care and Maintenance basis in 1945 following the start of demobilisation.
An ‘Area Control Centre’ was established at Barton Hall in the autumn of 1947, and shortly afterwards, on 10th November, the title was changed to ‘Air Traffic Control Centre and Aeronautical Information centre Preston’. On 24th June 1948, the Ministry of Civil Aviation assumed responsibility for the ATCC and although administrative control of military personnel was then transferred to RAF Kirkham, a Royal Air Force element remained at Barton hall as an integral part of its operational function. By March 1949 an Operations Headquarters had formed at Barton Hall and remained there until 1961 after which it moved to Royal Air Force Weeton to become Northern Region Air Traffic Services Centre (NRATSC), an offspring of the National Air Traffic Control Services and Headquarters United Kingdom Air Traffic Services. HQ UKATS was subsequently renamed Headquarters Military Air Traffic Operations and in December 1964 NRATSC, increasing its role considerably, became known as Headquarters Military Air Traffic Operations Northern Region and moved to its new location at RAF Lindholme.
Civilian and military staffs, working in harmony and co-operating from the inception of Preston ATCC, provided services respectively to civil and military aircraft operating within the Flight Information Region. Policy for Royal Air Force operations changed very little over the years and, in essence dictated the need;
To provide Air Traffic Control services to all RAF units, formations and
military aircraft within the Northern FIR.
Perhaps, the military function of greatest significance has been the provision of emergency services and to meet this end, direction finding has always been a primary requirement. In the early ‘fifties’ this was accomplished with the aid of D/F outstations conveniently situated and dispersed throughout the United Kingdom. Bearings determined from aircraft transmissions were telephoned to the ‘centre’ and transcribed to a display map provided with cords, each emanating from a compass rose centred on the map position of the D/F stations. The co-ordinated alignment of cords with bearings provided the ‘Fix’…. Simple and ingenious, it became known as ‘Triangulation’ and confounded many an unwary pilot who inadvertently, or otherwise, caused a transmission to be made on the international distress frequency.
interest arose from the results and the introduction of Auto-Triangulation
followed. Auto-Triangulation was first installed at Preston during 1957.
With the origin of each bearing trace centred on the map position of relative Forward Relay Stations, the intersection of several traces provided positional information for as long as the aircraft transmitted and, coincidentally, the landlines enabled the Controller’ speech to be transmitted to the aircraft via the Forward Relay nearest to the aircraft. Thereafter, the lengths of cord, with weights, and suction pads gave way to an electronic presentation. No longer the doubtful and sketchy telephone calls, the lengthy transmissions from aircraft, the piece by piece plotting of information, whilst the aircraft courteously remained airborne….
The new arrangement of personnel and equipment remained quite unchanged for many years after the advent of auto triangulation. A few interim modifications were introduced to facilitate the handling of VHF and UHF traffic simultaneously, but procedural method remained much the same until the influence of area radar began to be felt. This influence, though gradual at first, developed rapidly during the late sixties, and demanded the streamlining of procedures at the emergency desk - the once known panic position. Responsibility was re-appraised, duties reallocated, functional detail specified and the eighty or more landlines serving the ATCC were geared to integrate the ATCRU services, so that nowadays area radar may be gainfully associated with almost every emergency situation.