Latitude 53°26'07"N Longitude 2°32'60"W





COMMISSIONED 08 October 1942 accounts borne 'on books of GOSLING'


PAID OFF 21 July 1952 Name transferred to RNAS Worthy Down.


CLOSED W. & E. camps 21 July 1952 S. camp retained as ARIEL II until December 1952



Captain J. W. Rainier (act) (ret) 8 Oct 42
Captain C. S. Bell (act) (ret) - Oct 44
FUNCTION Naval and W.R.N.S. Radio Mechanics technical training.

Radio Mechanics (Air) Pool (from autumn 1944)

Air Radio Repair and Test Centre (From December 1944)

Naval Air Radio Maintenance Groups HQ (from Jul7 1945)

Air Electrical School (from 1946)


ADDRESS R.N. Air Training Establishment,




LOCALITY The establishment comprised of 3 separate camps: ARIEL West at Culcheth, ARIEL  East at Newchurch, ARIEL South at Warrington.








Officers: 82
Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings: Unknown.
W.R.N.S. Officers: 12
W.R.N.S.  Chiefs, P.O.s and ratings; Unknown.




HANGARS N.A.A. hangars on NW. side of airfield:


Number /Type                       Size         Door Height  Door Width

4 Dutch Barn (in pairs)......... 20' x 40'             17'             --

1 T3 .................................. 120' x 60'             25'           113' approx sizes


WORKSHOPS . Radio repair shop. General engineering shop and Radar workshop.

Information taken from:

CB 4368 B. Admiralty Handbook of Naval Air Stations Aug. 45

B.R. 1807 Handbook of Royal Naval Air Stations Home and Abroad March 1949

'Royal Navy Instructional Airframes' British Aviation Research Group




List of first and second line squadrons, station flight and other flying units based at this location



No flying units used this station



In May 1942, the Radio Mechanic Branch of the Royal Navy was created to meet the needs of the service for the maintenance and operation of its radio equipment. This newly formed branch was divided into two categories, General Service and Air.


A new establishment was opened at Culcheth, near Warrington, Lancashire, to train Fleet Air Arm officers and ratings in air radio maintenance and it; work began in the spring of 1942 and the establishment was commissioned as HMS ARIEL on October 8th 1942. AS the need for trained Radio and Radar mechanics increased the base opened two farther sites in the area, the original site at Culcheth became 'ARIEL West', while the site at Newchurch was 'ARIEL East' , and at Warrington, ARIEL South'.


 The Culcheth site was completed with hangars - several pairs of Dutch Barns and a single 'T3' type - and hardstandings to provide as realistic as possible environment for practical aircraft training under 'airfield' conditions [there was no landing area or runways]. A collection of non-flying instructional airframes, and some fuselages, were held at Culcheth, including Fairey Albacore, Fairey Barracuda, Fairey Swordfish, Fairey Firefly, Supermarine Seafire, Supermarine Sea Otter, Grumman Avenger and Vought-Chance Corsair. Thee aircraft were ranged on the hardstandings for practical instruction on installing and diagnosing faults on radio and radar sets, aerials and wiring, being housed in the hangars when not in use. Air Radar instruction was carried out at the Newchurch site with practical work on aircraft at Culcheth. It is not clear what instruction was carried out at  the Warrington site.


In November 1944 the Radio Mechanics (Air) Pool transferred from RNAS Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire, to take up residence as part of ARIEL, and the following month a new Air Radio Repair and Test Centre was formed to help with the serious shortage at home of repair facilities for air radio sets; this unit gave employment to ratings from the pool and also utilised trainees when necessary. The importance of HMS ARIEL as a centre for all maters concerning Air Radio was further increased from July 1945 when the new Naval Air Radio Maintenance Group organisation HQ was formed. The N.A.R.M.G. organization was to oversee and to provide expert advice and assistance to squadrons, stations, carriers on the installation and maintenance of new types of air radio equipment during the familiarization stages.  In addition to giving advice and assistance to the Naval Air Signals Schools on new types of air radio equipment, including "first aid", fault finding, and maintenance  "in the field". Fourteen man Naval Air Radio Maintenance Parties were formed, each party being equipped to deal with one particular set of airradio equipment,


Post War

On 1st January 1946 the Electrical Branch was formed and HMS ARIEL became the Air Electrical School. It is unclear when the Air Radio training ceased, or were the task transferred to.


HMS ARIEL continued to operate all three sites until July 1952 when the Air Electrical school  transferred to RNAS Worthy Down, the East and West sites were then closed. The south site was closed sometime in December of 952 when the relocation was completed.



Click here for a list of Primary sources

Additional sources:

Sturtivant, R. & Burdon, R., (1997) 'Royal Navy Instructional Airframes' (Second Ed.) Tonbridge, British Aviation Research Group &  Air Britain (Historians)

"AIRWAVES": A WREN Radio Mechanic in the Fleet Air Arm, 1941-46


Admiralty Fleet Orders:

4470/42 Radio Mechanics Training Establishment at Risley

2010/43-”Air Radio Officers-”Training and Duties

6248/44 Naval Air Radio Maintenance Groups (Short Title N.A.R.M.G.) Formation REPORT

6312/45 -Air Radio Repair and Test Centres at Home-”Functions and Capabilities

2116/52 - Aviation - The Air Electrical School - "H.M.S. ARIEL" - Transfer to Worthy Down














View Gosling/Ariel in a larger map



ASV Radar equipped Swordfish Mark III in front of 'Dutch Barn' hangars at HMS ARIEL, Culcheth. A second pair of Dutch Barn  hangars can be seen far right.© IWM (A 29549). Click for larger image


The site that was to become HMS ARIEL (South) is left of the Chester Road swing bridge. which is far left of shot. Naylors Timber Yard is in the centre of the shot - Britain from Above





© 2013 Tony Drury

Comments (2)

Robin Eldridge (Warrington, UK) says...
Sir, having grown up the area surrounded by HMS's Gosling, Ariel, Blackcap and Burtonwood airfield, and now living on what was ROF Risley, I have started writing a wartime history of the area. I am grateful for the information from your site but would query your location of HMS Ariel south, I am working from 1947 OS 1:10 maps (see my website page) and can't find any camps in the Walton area but there is one in the grounds of Bruche Hall (which became the Police training college) Could ... Read More
25th August 2016 9:54am
G H Pearce (UK) says...
I trained at Ariel in 1948 and 1951 living in East then West camps respectively. These camps were given to radar(east) and radio(west) training.Air electricians were trained at South camp which I believe was on the road from Culcheth to Warrington at Risley. I believe in later years it became part of the Atomic Energy Authority. Hope this helps.Smile
4th September 2016 7:01pm
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