April 19th 2023

Toyota unveils memorial in tribute to Derbyshire site’s military heritage

Kenneth Bannerman, of the Airfield Memorial Trust, and Tim Freeman, Deputy Managing Director of Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK), stand next to the memorial.

Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK) Ltd has unveiled a memorial at its vehicle manufacturing plant in Burnaston, Derbyshire, in tribute to the site’s military heritage.

Before the car manufacturing factory was built in the 1990s, the area was home to Burnaston Airfield, also known as Derby Airport, which dates back to 1938.

Tim Freeman, Deputy Managing Director of Toyota Motor Manufacturing (UK), said: “We were aware of the site’s history as an airfield before the plant was built. So when the opportunity to honour and respect those past servicemen and women that trained and flew from here came up, we were more than happy to accommodate the request.

“We are very proud of our long tradition and deep links with the Armed Forces, with a number of employees either currently or previously serving.”

A granite memorial located close to the site’s reception was unveiled by Tim and Kenneth Bannerman, founder of the Airfield Memorial Trust, on Friday, 14th April.

Touching on the airfield’s history, Kenneth said civilian flights ceased soon after the site opened in 1938 due to the onset of war, but that military pilot training in aircraft such as Miles Magisters and de Havilland Tiger Moths meant Burnaston Airfield was busy during World War Two.

As the conflict drew to a close, activity reduced but training continued, primarily using Tiger Moths.

The civil side of operations increased in the late 1940s with Derby Airport coming into being again. However, the airfield’s grass runway eventually proved a limiting factor and the airport was closed and superseded by East Midlands Airport in 1965. Burnaston continued as an airfield for general aviation until 1990.

Fittingly, shortly after the ceremony a Tiger Moth aircraft flew over Toyota’s Burnaston site to mark the memorial’s unveiling. Other memorials were due to be unveiled in Ashbourne and Darley Moor in the days following.

Kenneth Bannerman and Tim Freeman shake hands after unveiling the memorial.

Toyota is a Silver Award holder of the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme and proudly supports current and former Armed Forces personnel.

Andy Munns is a Senior Manager (Facilities and Site Services) at Toyota and one of many former Armed Forces personnel who work at Toyota’s vehicle manufacturing plant.

He is a former Reservist who served as an Officer in the Royal Monmouthshire Royal Engineers (Militia), with responsibility for bridge construction, bridge demolition and laying of minefields.

Andy said: “Toyota is very supportive of the Reserve Forces as they recognise it is a way of individuals developing self-confidence, leadership and technical skills, and I know they want to develop their support further, which is great for individuals and Toyota.

“Anything we can do to commemorate the sacrifice during any of the modern wars is fantastic. The memorial here is a reminder to everybody of the hardship and pain both the people directly in the military and their families went through during those periods.”