THESE fabulous group photographs show some of the workers at a Yeadon factory which played a vital role in the Second World War.

They also show military personnel who were based at the adjacent airport.

The Avro factory produced Lancaster bombers which were used in the legendary “Dambuster” raids.

The 70th anniversary of the raids was marked in May 2013, and the importance of the Yeadon factory was highlighted in a parliamentary motion put forward by the then Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland.

The factory, which was built in 1939 alongside what is now Leeds Bradford Airport, covered a million and a half square feet, and was the largest single factory unit in Europe at the time.

Called a ‘shadow factory,’ the Avro unit contributed to the aircraft production necessary for the war effort. In order to avoid airstrikes, the roof of the factory was camouflaged with fields, hedgerows, dummy buildings, and even a duck pond. The camouflaging tactics were successful, as the factory was never detected by enemy bombers throughout the war.

Camouflage extended to Yeadon Tarn which was drained so that it could not be used as a landmark in possible attacks by German bombers.

Mr Mulholland’s motion praised “the significant contributions to the war effort by the thousands of individuals employed at the factory.”

Employment at the factory reached 17,500 people at the height of its operation. Lancaster bomber planes produced at the factory were crucial to the successful Operation Chastise attack on German Dams in May of 1943.

The Parliamentary motion said: “That this house recognises the important role of the Avro aircraft factory, then located in Yeadon, during the Second World War in producing the Lancaster bomber planes; further recognises the 70th anniversary on 16th May of Operation Chastise attack on German dams carried out by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron and the role of Lancaster bombers produced at the Avro factory in this raid; and acknowledges the significant contributions to the war effort by the thousands of individuals employed at the factory.”

One of the photographs shows men with large drag nets catching fish in the tarn in 1940 prior to it being drained.

All of the pictures are from the archives of Aireborough Historical Society, and many were donated to AHS by people whose family members worked or were based at Avro.

One picture, taken in 1940, shows a large group of worker in front of an Avro York transport aircraft. The aircraft was developed in 1941 and used to transport goods and troops.

During the Berlin Airlift of 1948/9 the Yorks made more than 58,000 trips. One of the workers, Molly Williams, can be seen on the right of the back row.

Of the 17,000 workers employed in aircraft production at Avro, 60 per cent were women.

Some of the photographs were donated by Colleen Boulton, whose uncle Frank Bland can be seen first left on the back row of the top right hand picture.

Mary Bland nee Eccles is first left on the front row. Frank Bland can be seen again on the right of the bottom right image on the right hand page.

Members of the Army and Air Force were stationed at the airport during the war. Anti-aircraft guns were positioned at strategic points in the area to defend the factory from attack.

Some of the photographs were donated to AHS by Andrew Brown, whose grandfather Mark Phin can be seen on the left in the top left image. Mr Phin, who came from Scotland, was a painter.

The Avro factory closed in 1946.