East Fortune

East Lothian

Disused RAF Airfield at East Fortune
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Disused RAF Airfield at East Fortune

A location in East Lothian, 1¼ miles (2 km) northeast of Athelstaneford and 2 miles (3 km) northwest of East Linton. East Fortune had a railway station from 1849 until 1964, when it fell victim to the Beeching cuts, although the East Coast Main Line still passes to the north. Today the location is dominated by a disused airfield, part of which is home to the Museum of Flight. The airfield was built in 1915 as part of a network to protect Britain from German Zeppelin airship attacks during the First World War. The airfield was a base for both fighter aircraft, to destroy the Zeppelins, and British airships which operated in a coastal defence role. After the war, it was from East Fortune that the R34 airship departed for its double-crossing of the Atlantic (1919).

In 1922, a number of buildings and a portion of land, which had been part of the airfield, were given over to create the East Fortune Hospital. This acted as a tuberculosis sanatorium for the southeast of Scotland. For the duration of World War II, the airfield was brought back into service, primarily as a training base, and the hospital patients were transferred to Bangour Hospital in West Lothian. After the War the hospital was re-instated, but by 1956, as the number of tuberculosis patients began to decrease, the hospital changed its function to house the mentally handicapped. The hospital closed in 1997 and the remaining patients were transferred to Roodlands Hospital (Haddington).

East Fortune operated as Edinburgh's airport for a brief period in 1961 while facilities at Turnhouse were rebuilt. Buildings on the opposite side of the airfield from the hospital began to be used by the Royal Museum of Scotland for storage in 1971 and this developed into the Museum of Flight, which opened in 1975.

Today the runways are used for micro-lite flying and a regular market also takes place on the site.

Use the tabs on the right of this page to see other parts of this entry arrow

If you have found this information useful please consider making
a donation to help maintain and improve this resource. More info...

By using our site you agree to accept cookies, which help us serve you better