RAF Ensign flies high again above Halton House

After being blown away some 18 months ago, the RAF ensign flies high again above Halton House Officers’ Mess.

Commissioned by Alfred de Rothschild, Halton House, in Buckinghamshire, was constructed in 1883 and for 30 years provided the venue for Alfred’s sparkling weekend house parties which attracted the cream of British society, stars of the theatre and even Royalty. Devastated by the outbreak of war in 1914, Alfred loaned the Halton estate to his friend Lord Kitchener to assist in the war effort firstly accommodating the training overflow from Aldershot and then for inter-Services engineering training. A few years later the estate was purchased by the Air Ministry following the creation of the Royal Air Force in 1918.

Since then, the house has served as the RAF Halton Officers’ Mess and is also frequently used for functions and filming; you will see it featured in films such as The Queen, The Kings Speech, The World is Not Enough and in the forthcoming finale series of Poirot, ‘The Labours of Hercules’. So much so, the house is well loved and recognised by many.

Unfortunately, during the high winds of 2011, the RAF ensign which flew proudly from the roof of the House for nearly 90 years was ripped away and the halyard left firmly caught in the finial at the top of the flag pole. Despite many ingenious ideas to free the halyard, the towering height of some 30m made it impossible without a tall crane.

The opportunity to restore the ensign came during the annual survey of the Belvedere Tower, the 10 tonne lead structure that stands proud above the House. The Regional Prime Contractor PriDE, agreed to use a slightly larger crane than normal allowing inspection of the flag pole as well as other inaccessible areas of the roof.

High above the house PriDE’s David Close had the final honour of reattaching a new large ensign. Squadron Leader Di Carbutt, Site Estate Team Leader said: “David had to reach out from the crane cage to un-jam and unknot the rope which was not as easy as we’d hoped as the cage swayed in the wind and was reaching the upper limits of tolerance for the crane. He executed the task perfectly and the house now appears complete once again much to the delight of many of its members.”

RAF Halton can now celebrate 100 years of military flying from the estate with the ensign firmly back in its rightful place and clearly visible along the Chiltern ridge line for all to see.