Belfast Telegraph

Historic wartime military base in Co Derry under the hammer

By David Elliott

One of Northern Ireland's most important Second World War airforce bases is up for sale.

Shackleton Barracks in Ballykelly, Co Londonderry, played a pivotal role in allowing the Royal Air Force's Coastal Command Development (CCD) unit to carry out anti-submarine patrols and to escort convoys across the Atlantic during the war.

The now-vacant site, which was previously known as RAF Ballykelly, stretches to 720 acres and is being sold as a whole or in separate parts.

Selling agents BTW Sheills wouldn't be drawn on how much the site is likely to fetch but said they expect interest for the assets – which includes the airfield, offices, accommodation blocks, houses, a number of hangars, one of which stretches to 2.5 acres – from a wide range of sectors.

Stuart Draffin, who said he's looking for "expressions of interest" for the base on behalf of the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister, said interest has already been shown from the aviation, agriculture, manufacturing and tourism industry.

"It is rare a property of this nature is offered to the market. Interest is expected from companies and individuals on an international and local scale," he said.

The agent's brochure said it may also be possible to rent part of the site.

"Interested parties should consider the nature of their interest in terms of their desire to rent or purchase, whole or part."

Opened in 1941, the airfield remained an RAF station until 1971 when it was handed over to the Army and renamed Shackleton Barracks.

It was one of three wartime airfields in Co Londonderry along with Maydown, which became the site of the first DuPont factory and is now an industrial estate, and Eglinton, now the location of the City of Derry Airport.

Only a few of the original hangars remain at the Ballykelly site after the army set about a period of rebuilding when it took over the base.

As well as being occupied by the CCD unit, it was also regularly used by various RAF squadrons and the Royal Navy during its history.

Prospective buyers or renters can expect to welcome the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development which is relocating its Dundonald base to Ballykelly from December 2016.

Its new base will be based on around 10 acres of the north east side of the Ballykelly site.


total number of acres the site, formerly known as RAF Ballykelly, covers


Shackleton Barracks comprises some 720 acres divided into two distinct areas known as 'Top Camp' and 'Bottom Camp'. The Top Camp is occupied by buildings historically used for residential and offices use.

The Bottom Camp occupies the most northern portion of the site, the majority of which was originally developed as an airfield. Two runways dissect the site and the main Londonderry to Coleraine railway line crosses the main runway at its western side.

There is a range of buildings around the periphery of the runways, the largest of which is 117,920sq ft.

Belfast Telegraph