Construction of the airfield began in 1937, when the MoD began acquiring lands for the airfield. The airfield opened as 12 Maintenance Unit (12MU) in June 1939. At the time the airfield had only a single grass runway and 15 hangars. Construction of concrete runways began in January 1940, after the United Kingdom had declared war on Germany.
During the war Kirkbride served as a gateway between aircraft manufacturers and front line units. Being out of reach of most enemy bombers it had no frontline squadrons assigned and a mostly civilian staff. The only military units were 12MU and No.16 Ferry Pilots Pool of the Air Transport Auxiliary. During the war 12MU handled just about every aircraft type in the RAF inventory.
Much of the airfield survives and is used by light aircraft and microlights. Most of the hangars still stand, now used for industry or agriculture. Please only explore from footpaths or rights of way. Parking is available at the White Heather Hotel.
Image credit – Solway Aviation Museum collection