Squadron Portishead was formed in 1971, previous to this it was a Detached Flight (DF) of 1446 Squadron Clevedon.

The Detached Flight was sited on the “Tump”, which was an open area on the top of Woodhill, Portishead, where the MoD had retained some buildings where an anti aircraft gun emplacement had been sited during WW2.  This area is now a residential site known as Woodhill Park.

Flying Officer Bryan Hill commanded the Detached Flight from 1963 until 1968 when he was promoted to command 2467 Squadron Nailsea.  Flying Officer Jones succeeded him until squadron status was granted in 1971.

The first Squadron Commander was Flight Lieutenant John Davies, a car salesman from Bristol who had been serving as a junior officer at 2467 Squadron commanded by Flight Lieutenant Bryan Hill.  (Bryan Hill eventually became Wing Commanding Officer of Somerset Wing and we are extremely grateful to him for recalling these details of the origin of the Squadron, 37 years ago).

The Detached Flight was evicted from the Woodhill site and was still in limbo at the time squadron status was attained.  The hard work involved in forming a committee, finding adult staff and raising funds to start the squadron was mainly due to the efforts of a local businessman Mr E Wilson who became the first Committee Chairman.  He continued to serve the squadron in this position for about 10 years.

The new Squadron was part of Somerset Wing of the Air Training Corps.

It paraded once a week at Portishead Folk Hall where a small lockable room was made available.  This served as an office and store for all the equipment. These cramped conditions also had to be shared by the Squadron Commander and Adult Warrant Officers, Mark Adams and Bruce Holmes.  The Chairman also invited a close neighbour, Mr D Martin, who had recently retired from regular service
with the RAF to be an instructor.  This was the start of an association with the Squadron and the Air Training Corps that Mr Martin still continues today.

The problems of accommodation continued into 1972 until the Cadet Centre in Station Road, Portishead was opened.  In January 1973, Mr Martin was commissioned into the RAFVR (T) in the rank of Pilot Officer.

Regrettably, in late 1973, the squadron commander Flight Lieutenant J Davies died of a sudden heart attack.  The second CO at 2494 Squadron was Flight Lieutenant G Dodd, an extremely experienced WW2 pilot and well-known local farmer.  He had just retired as an instructor at 621 Gliding School.

Flight Lieutenant Dodd inspired the squadron immensely.  In the short time of less than 2 years the squadron had gained its feet and achieved recognition in the community.  He took retirement from this post in September 1975.

The now Flight Lieutenant D Martin then became the third CO in the 4 years of the squadron’s existence.  As a consequence of the Local Government Act of 1972, Portishead and other nearby squadrons became resident in the new County of Avon from 1st April 1974.  This resulted in the name of the Wing being changed to Somerset and South Avon Wing.

The early years from 1976 to 1980 saw many changes.  The biggest problem in those days was hair length.  The long hair of the popular music idols did not go well with the cadet uniform, which was at that time the coarse hair material, “blouse-jacket” and trousers and the beret looked ridiculous above a huge mop of hair.  The squadron had also inherited a drum and bugle band.  The availability of a good instructor was always a problem and although bugle practice was never a problem in the seclusion of the ‘Tump’, it soon upset local residents in Station Road.  The band also took the majority of the funding, so in the agreement with the committee, the band was regrettably disbanded.

Fund raising in those years was also very difficult.  During the early eighties, inflation was very high and cash was short.  Jumble sales were the main means of fund raising but they took enormous effort on the part of the committee and staff to organise just to raise £30 on a good day.

The “Woolly Pulley” and the new smooth material uniform trousers were introduced during the nineteen eighties.  Other important changes were the introduction of the lightweight cadet rifle and the availability of camouflage dress for cadets on outdoor exercises.

The Corps, after much campaigning, had finally opened it doors to girls. 2494 Squadron was one of the first squadrons in the Somerset and South Avon Wing to accept girls.

During the early nineteen nineties the condition of the Cadet Centre was deteriorating rapidly and after lengthy discussion with the local council, planning permission was granted for a new centre to be erected.  However, funding from the TAVR was limited and the erection of the new building was delayed.

Flight Lieutenant Martin’s command lasted for 21 years until his forced retirement at the age of 57.

It was in February 1996, the 25th year of the Squadron, which Flight Lieutenant Martin Neate became the fourth Squadron Commander.

On the 1st April 1996 the County of Avon was dissolved and the Wing reverted to the title of Somerset Wing.  This was short lived
however, as due to financial cuts, the number of Wings in the Corps was reduced and Somerset Wing was disbanded.  2494 Squadron and other squadrons in the north of the County were transferred to Bristol and Gloucester Wing.

The local MP, Dr Liam Fox, opened the new Cadet Centre. On retirement from uniform Mr Martin was immediately appointed as Squadron Chairman.  2494 Squadron had always managed to raise the funds required to maintain its objectives but over the years fund raising methods had changed. With a new committee behind it, 2494 Squadron reached the end of the millennium with very sound finances and the advantage of a new Headquarters that was completely separate from the Army Cadets.  The squadron was therefore able to embark on its own Millennium Project and created the Flight Simulator that is the envy of the Wing.

Mr David Cameron of Cameron Balloons performed the opening ceremony and kindly agreed to become President of the Squadron Committee.  Mr Martin remained committee chairman for 10 years.  During this time he was also Chairman of Somerset Wing, Squadron Chairman’s committee.  Following the disbandment of Somerset Wing, Mr Martin became a member of the Bristol & Gloucester Wing Finance and General Purpose Committee.

Mr S Rogers became Chairman of the Squadron Committee in 2006.  Mr Martin is currently Vice Chairman, of the Squadron Committee entitling his position on the Wing committee.

You can still frequently see the old man at the Squadron.  Having joined the ATC as a cadet in 1952 and becoming an Aircraft Apprentice in the RAF in 1953 this makes a total of 56 years experience and service to the RAF and ATC.  His memory is failing but he is always available to answer questions.

Just don’t believe what he says.

Flight Lieutenant Neate stood down in 2006 and 2494 Squadron is now run by Flight Lieutenant Dawn Adam and her wonderful staff.