You may recall our earlier posts about the removal of the Hawker Hunter from a pillar in Woking Town centre. This Hunter is now under restoration by a dedicated team based at Dunsfold. You will find their progress reports on their Facebook Page.
Two years ago the Wings Museum submitted a planning application for a 10,000sqm Museum building on land to the South of Dunsfold Aerodrome. In 2017 DAHS objected to the proposal and made specific recommendations.
The application has remained undecided at Waverley Planning Department until now. It was scheduled for consideration by the Eastern Planning Committee on 5th December 2018. The Waverley Planning Case Office recommended approval despite many errors in the submissions.
Many will have seen the news last week that the RAF is closing Scampton – the airbase which, among other things, is the home of the iconic Red Arrows display team. Those with an interest in UK aviation history, including neighbours living around Dunsfold Aerodrome in Surrey, will probably also know that the Hawk trainer jet which is used by the Red Arrows was developed, assembled and first flown at the Dunsfold Aerodrome in 1974. More than a few people are therefore asking the question – is now the time to consider offering a new base for the Red Arrows, at the historic home of the Hawk, Dunsfold Aerodrome?
By coincidence (or may it be providence?), a rare example of a Hawker Hunter fighter jet which has for many years been on public display in a shopping street in Woking, is also looking for a new home. ‘XL623’ was the last Hunter T.7 to be built, and it is believed it first flew at Dunsfold.
Having been donated to Brooklands Museum, and with the help of the Hawker Association, restoration of Hunter T7 XL623 is about to begin – very fittingly at Dunsfold Aerodrome! How good would it be if that aircraft could also find a permanent home at the Dunsfold site?
Dunsfold Aerodrome is also the semi-permanent home of the Brooklands-owned VC10 aircraft, which although not fit to fly, regularly starts up its engines for a short taxi round the runways. In addition, it is a base frequently used by a WW2 Dakota painted in D-Day landing colours.
In the past year, the Aerodrome has benefitted from a flurry of Listings of buildings on the near-intact and still operational airfield. During 2017, Historic England listed as Grade II;
So are we about to see a resurgence of interest in Dunsfold Aerodrome becoming a living museum as the home of a VC10, Hunter XL623, and – possibly? – a base for the Red Arrows flight of Hawk jets? Well, while the threat of obliteration of the aerodrome under housing development remains, this would seem a remote dream. But, surely, the site owners, who often cite their interest in the flying history of the airfield, would do well to consider how popular such a proposal might be, and how many tourists the new museum could attract? It may, just, be time for the planes to come home to Dunsfold.
Banner Image: Red Arrows at Dunsfold 2010. Image courtesy of Gareth Stringer
Historic England have recently published their “9 places that tell the story of the RAF” and include Dunsfold at No.8 in their list for its significant part it played in the development of some of the key aircraft of the past 60 years.
The Secretary of State has now decided on the fate of the airfield. After the 3 week long Planning Inquiry on the development plans his Planning Inspector approved the proposals and the Secretary of State has agreed with that judgement. The full details of the decision is here.
Engine running pens and VTO blast grid at Dunsfold Airfield, Cranleigh, Surrey – Awarded Listed Building Status
The latest news from Historic England is published here:
Following the application to add the above building to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest, we have now considered all the representations made and completed our assessment of the building. Having considered our recommendation, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has decided to add the Engine running pens and VTO blast grid at Dunsfold Airfield to the List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest. They are now listed at Grade II.
Please click on the link below to download a copy of Historic England’s advice report, which gives the principal reasons for this decision. The List entry for this building, together with a map, has now been published on the National Heritage List for England, and will be available for public access from tomorrow. This List can be accessed through the Historic England website.
The local planning authority will now be preparing the statutory notices required under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.
DAHS Editor’s note: This brings the total of Listed Structures on the Airfield site to 5:
Duncan Simpson 23rd December 1927 – 7th December 2017
We very much regret to announce the death on 7th December of Duncan Simpson OBE CEng FRAes FIMechE
Duncan was at the forefront of UK military aviation for many years. He played a key role in the development of the Hunter fighter, the Harrier and Sea Harrier, and led development of the Hawk advanced trainer also flown by the Red Arrows.
His link with Dunsfold is inextricable – Simpson joined Hawker in 1954 and became Hawker’s Chief Test Pilot in 1970, notable that he flew the P.1127 as well as making the first flight in a Hawk. He was Master of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators in 2002, and in 2011 received the Guild’s Award of Honour in recognition of his outstanding lifetime contribution to aviation. He was also a Fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
Latterly he served with distinction as the Tangmere Military Aviation Museum’s Honorary President from 2007 until 2013.
His son John contacted the Heritage Society to inform us of his father’s passing: “He died peacefully at his home on Thursday 7th December 2017 having endured severe ill health since early 2015. We are aware of the highly valued relationship he had with all those at Dunsfold. We would very much appreciate it if you could please pass on this message to others who remember him. Any former colleagues or close friends we would very much like to hear from. Messages can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org . A Memorial Service is being held at St Clement Danes WC2R 1DH on Tuesday 24th April at 11am and after at the RAF Club W1J 7PY. Any donations please to the RAF Benevolent Fund.
A Memorial Service to celebrate his life will take place at St Clements Dane’s on Tuesday, 24th April 2018″