National Aircraft Factory No.3 – Aintree

The former buildings and site of N.A.F. No.3 in 1928

Facility Type & Function:

National Aircraft Factory (N.A.F.) – Manufacture of Bristol F2b Fighter aircraft.

Brief History:

During World War I, the importance of military control of the air became evident at an early stage and thus the British government sought to significantly increase aircraft manufacturing capacity accordingly. Up until 1917 aircraft production had been in the hands of a few specialist private companies which, with government support, were producing 1,229 airframes per month by 1917. However, this output was still under target. To meet the shortfall the British government, under the direction of the Air Ministry, created three new “state of the art” aircraft factories. These were operated by private companies such as Cubitts, Sopwith and Cunard.

The site chosen for N.A.F. No.3 was a 70 acre plot (Stag Farm) just west of Aintree racecourse in Liverpool.  The racecourse itself was to serve as the work’s airstrip.

Construction started on the factory on 4th October 1917 by the contractor Trollop and Colls Limited who employed approximately 3,000 men, many of whom were Irish. There were considerable problems during the site’s construction relating to the site’s water supply and laying the connection to the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway. Labour problems and severe weather conditions also caused issues.

Assembly of a Bristol F2b Fighter aircraft at the N.A.F. No.3 during 1918

On its completion, in March 1918, N.A.F. No.3 was placed under the management of the Cunard Steamship Company Limited. Several weeks later production commenced on the factory’s first order which was for 126 Bristol F2b Fighter aircraft for the R.A.F.

By 1st October 1918, the factory had delivered only 36 aircraft out of its first order and 12 of these were without engines. At this time the site’s workforce numbered 1,331 of which 985 were women.

Aircraft silks being attached onto the air frames of Bristol F2b Fighter aircraft at the N.A.F. Mo.3 in 1918

Aircraft manufacture continued after the Armistice, with the site’s total output reaching 126 aircraft by the end of March 1919. Shortly afterwards it was closed and converted into an artificial silk factory.

No traces of the factory now remain on its former site.

Location Details:

Aintree, Liverpool, Merseyside (formerly Lancashire) – National Factory Area No.2

Associated Token, Check & Pass Issues:

Type I (Variation A)

(Image courtesy of Malcolm Johnson)

Function:  Canteen token

Material: White metal alloy (zinc?)

Design: Bi-facial with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,  28.5 mm

Obverse: Raised legend within outer raised borders reads NO3 NAF AINTREE  CANTEEN . Mark of value 6 in centre field .

Reverse:  A central dot surrounded by two raised concentric circles within an outer raised border.

Date: 1918 to 1919

Maker: Unknown (Note 1).

Published References:  Mal’s Tokens – Factory Tokens (website)


Type I (Variation B)

(Image courtesy of Malcolm Johnson)

Function:  Canteen token

Material: White metal alloy (zinc?) with blue pain finish (Note 2).

Design: Bi-facial with a plain edge

Shape & Size: Circular,  28.5 mm

Obverse: Raised legend within outer raised borders reads NO3 NAF AINTREE  CANTEEN . Mark of value 6 in centre field .

Reverse:  A central dot surrounded by two raised concentric circles within an outer raised border.

Date: 1918 to 1919

Maker: Unknown (Note 1).

Published References:  Mal’s Tokens – Factory Tokens (website)


Notes:

  1. These tokens of of a similar design and size to those recorded for the N.A.F. No.2  at Heaton Chapel near Stockport. It is assumed they were made by the same suppliers.
  2. It is not known what the blue paint finish on this token variety signified.

 

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