The Flarepath Club

Operated from the Mid-50s to the Early-90s

Founders/Directors – Stan & Ann Payne

While outsiders or the uninitiated may have believed that it was the airport apron that was the centre of activity at SEN, they were as such sadly mistaken. In fact as anyone who worked at SEN knew, there was no more important place than the Flarepath Club (often better known to some as Ext 238) which became the focal point for aircrews, air hostesses, ground crews and airport workers alike. Needless to say, access to this somewhat ‘exclusive’ club was restricted to members (those who worked at or on the airport) only and while the Flightpath was run in a semi-militaristic fashion by club manager Stan Payne, this was offset somewhat by the more motherly nature of Ann. It goes without saying that the club witnessed several events and episodes that are probably best left to languish within the realms of SEN legend and folklore without any names being mentioned I might add…

Based within a building attached to what was at the time, SEN’s oldest hangar (the former haunt of Southend Municipal Flying School) the club itself was essentially a one room facility run by Stan & Ann (up until the early 1980s) while membership and club decisions were made by an elected committee. As such, the facility was occasionally used for events such as the odd wedding reception although monthly meetings were usually held in the nearby Anne Boleyn pub being as the surroundings were somewhat quieter. However, one interesting event took place during the early ’70s. The club had just recently undergone major renovation work and as luck would have it, an RAF squadron (rumoured to be the Red Arrows) was visiting SEN at the time and were as such cajoled into reopening the Flarepath.

Being the only licensed premise on the airport, with the exception of the restaurant and cocktail bar in the main terminal, crews would usually flock to the Flarepath being as the terminal facilities had a ‘no uniform’ rule. Indeed, it wasn’t unknown for the odd Carvair or B170 flight crew returning from the Continent to radio in their chosen tipple before last orders were called and then on arriving at SEN, they would summarily ignore the marshallers and taxi down to the parking area nearest to the Flightpath. However in 1980 or 1982, Stan & Ann retired and the club was taken over by people unknown. The exact date of closure is also something of an enigma although this is believed to have taken place some time around 1991 or 1992. The building itself was then left to languish and was eventually pulled down c.1995 along with the ex-SMFS hangar and ‘Greasy Spoon’ cafe. Today, the Holiday Inn hotel stands on this location.

With thanks to Tony Mullinger, Peter Clark, Brian Mells, Lesley Foster, Steve Joel and Stephen Healey

 

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Many thanks from the SAAD Admin Team.