Royal Air Force Halton
Apprentices' Donations Page
The links on this page take you to two mobile-friendly donation platforms. JustGiving.com enables
you to donate to RAFHAA using your credit or debit card and makes a small charge for this
convenience. On the other hand, Wonderful.org is 100% fee-free but you will need to make a bank
transfer. Both provide for Gift Aid, where appropriate, to be claimed by the Association.
In 1913, the owner of the Halton Estate, Alfred de Rothschild, invited the Army to camp on his land
during their autumn manoeuvres. First to arrive were the Royal Flying Corps and they set up a
landing ground on a sheep pasture which was later to become Maitland Parade Square. A year later
we were at war and Alfred offered use of his land to the War Office (now MOD) for military training.
Alfred died in 1918 and as considerable sums had been spent on developing the Halton estate, the
Air Council wanted to retain it as a training base for the fledgling RAF and the War Office bought the
land in 1919.
In planning the future of the RAF, Air Marshal Lord Trenchard foresaw the need to produce a pool of
skilled aircraft engineers. As the recruitment of suitable adults proved difficult after WW1, he
persuaded Mr Winston Churchill, then Secretary of State for Air, that boys between the ages of 15
and 17 years should be recruited to be trained as aircraft apprentices. Halton was the preferred
choice of location for what was to be No 1 School of Technical Training.
The Halton Apprentice
Halton received its first apprentices (who were eventually to become universally known as
'Trenchard or Halton brats' in 1922. They soon proved their worth in Iraq, on the North West
Frontier and especially in WW2. Halton was recognised internationally for the excellence of its
product. Many old commonwealth and foreign countries sent boys to Halton to serve
apprenticeships before returning to help establish their own national air forces. By 1993, when
apprentice training ceased, over 40,000 boys had graduated from Halton. Although the aim of the
RAF Apprenticeship scheme was primarily to produce a cadre of well-trained SNCOs and Warrant
Officers, over 20% were to be commissioned later with many attaining the highest ranks in the
There had long been an Old Haltonian Association, founded by Lieutenant Colonel AFS Cardwell from
the earliest days of the Halton Apprenticeship. The objects of the Old Haltonians were to stimulate
interest and comradeship between all ex-Halton Apprentices'. The Halton Magazine became the
mouthpiece of the Association with representatives, inside and out of the Service, keen to
contribute to the growing recognition of the importance of ex-brats to the Service and to industry.
With the passing of time, the magazine ceased, and the activities of the Association decayed.
However, at the RAF Diamond Jubilee Reunion held at Halton on 27th September 1980, an inaugural
meeting of the RAF Halton Apprentices’ Association was held under the chairmanship of Douglas
Hemming (37th ) with AVM Michael Armitage (56th ) as Patron. A Constitution was adopted, and a
committee was formed. The objects of the Association were to organise reunions, to maintain contact
and disseminate information, to stimulate interest and comradeship between all former RAF Halton
Apprentices and to increase the range and circulation of the Halton Magazine. In 1985, following
negotiations with the Charities Commission, the Association became registered as a Charity. Over
the years, under numerous chairs and committee members, the Association thrived with
membership peaking at over 3000 in early 2000. The proposed closure of RAF Halton in 2025
raised many challenges for the Association but the underlying wish of the membership was to see
the Association ensure a legacy to the role played by ex-brats in the military history of our country.
As a first step to developing a legacy programme, membership voted at the 2021 AGM to adopt a
new constitution based on the Charities Commission 'Charitable Incorporated Organisation' (CIO)
Currently, the RAFHAA is preparing a Business Plan (BP) to create a Heritage Centre that would
incorporate the most interesting exhibits from our existing museums when Halton closes beside
new digital exhibits demonstrating all aspects of Halton Apprentice training. We are also in
discussion with the MOD Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) about the possible acquisition and
development of St Georges’ church as our heritage centre thereby protecting our stained-glass
windows and other important features like the Tribute and the Trenches. We have appointed an
Architect with wide experience of developing and repurposing ecclesiastical buildings and, in due
course, he will also be handling our planning application if we are successful in our discussions with
MOD. Once the BP is complete, it will form the cornerstone of our quest for funding to develop an
amazing and glorious tribute to the ex-Halton brat. Take a deep breath, our initial estimate for a
worthy centre is £4-5 million!
While we will seek substantial sums from the National Lottery, industry and private enterprise,
smaller donations from those connected in any way with an ex-Halton brat are most welcome.
Please give generously and enable the story of Halton brats and their amazing achievements
worldwide to be told and shown to future generations.
Please find below the links for the HAA Donations platforms.