The requirement for an aerodrome at Stow Maries originated in the Government response to German Zeppelin airship and Gotha fixed-wing bomber attacks on the British mainland during the First World War.
The first aircraft to arrive at the new aerodrome in September 1916 belonged to ‘B’ flight, 37 (Home Defence) Squadron, Royal Flying Corps. The Squadron was charged with the eastern aerial defence of the London. The Headquarters Flight moved into ‘The Grange’, Woodham Mortimer. ‘A’ Flight was despatched to Rochford (now Southend Airport) and ‘C’ Flight to Gardeners Farm, Goldhanger.
The first commanding officer on the aerodrome was Lieutenant Claude Ridley. Educated at St Paul’s School, London, he was only 19 years of age but had already seen service with the Royal Flying Corps on the Western Front winning the Military Cross and Distinguished Service Order (DSO) prior to arriving at Stow Maries.
The first recorded operational flight took place from the aerodrome on the night of 23rd/24th May 1917 when Ridley (now promoted to Captain) and Lieutenant G Keddie were ordered aloft in response to a large Zeppelin raid targeting London. Both day and night patrols are recorded but it was to be ‘C’ Flight at Goldhanger that clained the Squadrons first confirmed destruction of an enemy machine, when during the early hours of 17th June 1917, 2nd Lieutenant L. P. Watkins was credited with the downing of Zeppelin L48 at Theberton in Suffolk. This was to be the last Zeppelin brought down in Great Britain during the war.
One of the stations busiest days was 7th July 1917 when aircraft were ordered after a formation of twenty-two Gotha bombers were spotted heading to London. Stow Maries pilots engaged the enemy aircraft in a running flight and scored several hits.
The site returned to agriculture under the ownership of the Turner family. The following years have seen the buildings used for both agriculture and accommodation, but remain mostly untouched as almost unique WWI history