Hill of Oaks

For a map depicting the location of Hill of Oaks, please click here

Having publicly declared in October 1909 his intention to have an aeroplane fly from water, at a time when nobody in the world had successfully done so, Edward Wakefield‘s first task was to have a hangar built at Windermere.

Wakefield selected Hill of Oaks as the site, on the south-eastern shore of the lake, designed a new access road through Haws Wood and obtained planning permission in January 1910.

After weeks when the weather was not suitable for flying, on the morning of 25 November 1911 the lake was calm. Herbert Stanley Adams taxied out Waterbird from Hill of Oaks and, with the benefit of a gentle wind which had begun to blow, made the first flight. He reached a height of about 50 feet and continued towards the ferry, where he made a wide turn before returning to alight at Hill of Oaks. The difference to previous attempts to take off was that a second ‘step’ had been added to the stern of the float.

By June 1912, a second hangar was built with a workshop, at a greater height above the lake than the first so as to give protection from flooding.

Later additions included a double-bay hangar, boathouse, bungalow, cafe and a dormitory block.

The Admiralty awarded a contract to train pilots, and in May 1916 requisitioned the seaplane school which was the first in the UK. The headquarters of the Royal Naval Air Service at Windermere were relocated from Cockshott Point.

RNAS Unit Hill of Oaks changed its name to RNAS Windermere upon becoming an all-service school by the end of June 1916, and operated until the end of June 1917.


Windermere: birthplace of British naval and civil marine aeroplanes