Apart from street names such as Halifax Court, Lancaster Way and Handley Close, and a pub called the Flying Legends, there's not much left these days to remind you that there was once an airfield at Clifton Moor.

During the Second World War, however, there was an important RAF base there: one which incorporated a Halifax heavy bomber repair depot.

The depot was known locally as 'The Yard': and it was where Halifax bombers damaged during the fighting were brought to either be repaired, or else scrapped and cannibalised so they could be used to repair other aircraft.

A new care home on Green Lane in Clifton which is due to open its doors for the first time next month has been named after the depot. Handley House gets its name from Handley Page, the aircraft company which built the Halifaxes.

The house's general manager, Michael Gledhill, visited the Yorkshire Air Museum in Elvington to look through old photographs and maps of the airfield and repair depot, and hopes to use some of the material for a display at the home.

In the meantime, the air museum has allowed The Press to reproduce several extraordinary photographs of the repair depot itself, and of some of the Halifax bombers which came there during the war for repairs. We have supplemented these with some photos from our own archive and from Explore York which show the airfield before and after the war.

According to the Forgotten Airfields website (forgottenairfields.com) the airfield at Clifton Moor actually first opened on July 4, 1936, as a civilian airfield serving York. For a few years before that, it had been used by an air circus, before its potential as a commercial airfield was realised.

Until the Second World War, the airfield was managed by Yorkshire Air Services and Country Club Ltd, which ran a flying club and air taxi service, though there were no scheduled flights. The airfield was taken over by the RAF when war broke out in September 1939 and was used as a relief landing ground for RAF Linton-on-Ouse.

In 1941, reports the Forgotten Airfields website, a complete RAF Station was built at the southeast side, and accommodation for 500 personnel. Three concrete runways were also built, to facilitate a Halifax heavy bomber repair unit (No.48 Maintenance Unit or 48MU).

The airfield was damaged by German bombers in April 1942, but was able to continue in use. In 1943 it was transferred to RAF Fighter Command, although the Halifax repair depot remained on the base.

After the war ended in May 1945, more than half the remaining Halifax bombers in existence were flown to Clifton from all over the country. For the next two years, the repair depot's main task was to strip them all down for scrap. At one point, says Forgotten Airfields, a huge pile of metal about 80 feet high could be seen near Rawcliffe village.

The airfield was again used by Yorkshire Aviation Services after the war, but high rents to the Ministry of Defence forced the aeroclub to close in the early 1950s. After lying disused, the site was sold by York Corporation for housing development. By the late 1980s most of the airfield buildings had disappeared, but the runways still remained. The airfield is now covered by the Clifton Moor Retail Park and a housing estate.

The new Handley House care home is expected to open its doors for the first time for potential residents to have a look around on May 10 and 11.

Stephen Lewis