Before the aerodrome


Simmonds Farmhouse 1843
Air Ministry Map March 28 1941


Simmonds Farmhouse 1871
Simmonds Farmhouse
1930s Lakers Green Farmhouse 1930’s
Robbins Farm 1930’s
Tickners Heath Farmhouse 1938

Engine running pens – Listed Grade II

The engine running or detuning pens were originally built to test the aircraft engines for the Hunter.

Three pens were arranged in a curve. One has been completely removed.

Of the two remaining; the unique example survives that was used to test all ‘jump jets’ or VTOL. The VTOL pen is lined with metal sheeting and sound absorption. Channels below ground take extract for the jets nozzles. Historical significance is for the development of the ‘jump jet’, P1127 through to the Harrier. All aircraft engines were tested and run here before being assembled and shipped worldwide.

The two engine running pens were given Grade II Listed Building status in December 2017.  Historic England’s detailed Listing report

The first P.1127, XP831, in the ground running pen at Dunsfold with Rolls-Royce representative John Vowles in the cockpit.  Photo courtesy BAE Systems via Brooklands Museum
Pen Construction 1960’s: BAE Systems via Brooklands Museum
Hawk 200 in Engine Running Pen (1980s) (courtesy Brooklands Museum archive)

Engine running pens


Continue reading “Engine running pens – Listed Grade II”

Compass Swing Base

Circular concrete platform marked out in degree divisions accurately aligned with local magnetic north. The aircraft is placed on the pad in a series of angular positions and the reading of the aircraft’s magnetic compass is compared with the true heading on the pad. The aircraft system is then adjusted to match and any unresolvable residual errors are recorded. This process is called ‘swinging the compass’. A magnetic compass on an aircraft is influenced by the magnetic materials and components in the aircraft. Nearly all airfield had such bases, but they are now rare due to commercial pressures for space.

Compass swing base

Please note: The aerodrome is private land and an active airfield. Access is not permitted to some of the buildings and features and we strongly discourage access without permission.

VTO sites – Listed Grade II

Photo courtesy of BAE Systems via Brooklands Museum

The main runway has the unique Vertical Take Off Grids, known as VTO Grids or Hover Grids – used for the tethering of jump jets such as the Harrier whilst hovering. These are located on aprons that adjacent the main runway and are within the Operational Readiness Platform [ORP].  Beneath these gratings is a large void chamber to take the hot air, condensation and gases from the downdraft of the jet engines of the aircraft. Within the eastern Engine Testing Pen there is a similar arrangement that is a unique feature to Dunsfold.

Continue reading “VTO sites – Listed Grade II”

Bomb Stores Site

Dunsfold Bomb Stores Plan

The Bomb Stores Site has two access roads with seven concrete hard standings in between and earth banks separating each hard standings or bays. These bays were used to store the bombs which were placed on wooden frames. The earth banks that separated each bay gave a degree of isolation should there be an accident and these are still visible. Continue reading “Bomb Stores Site”

A1 Hangar

3 x Type A1 Hangars – large end opening aircraft repair hangars which were erected on ‘Base’ type operational bomber stations and aircraft factory airfields. Here stand three Type A1 hangars erected side by side. They were relocated from their original WWII site to meet the needs of Hawker Siddeley Ltd in 1953. The type A1 hangars were designed by T Bedford Consulting Engineers, a manufacture funded by the Ministry of Aircrafts Production.

Used by British Aerospace for Harrier production and testing.

1st Hawk 200 ZG200 Photo: Andy Lawson, BAe Systems
Harrier. Photo Andy Lawson BAe Systems
A1 Hangers paintshop 2016

Please note: The aerodrome is private land and an active airfield. Access is not permitted to some of the buildings and features and we strongly discourage access without permission.

Fusing Point Building

16ft span Nissen Hut located within the WWII Bomb Stores Site. A concrete roadway splits and enters the structure to allow the bomb ladened trolleys to be fused ready for deployment before being taken to the aircraft.

Fusing Point Building
Fusing Point Hangar, former bomb store. (Compare with view from 1943 below.) Photo Dave Yoxall
ROYAL AIR FORCE: 2ND TACTICAL AIR FORCE, 1943-1945. (CH 12840) A bomb train leaves the ordnance-store at Dunsfold, Surrey, for loading into North American Mitchells of No. 2 Group for an attack on flying-bomb sites in northern France, (‘Noball’). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source:

Please note: The aerodrome is private land and an active airfield. Access is not permitted to some of the buildings and features and we strongly discourage access without permission.

ROC Post – Listed Grade II

The Dunsfold underground structure was constructed as a result of the Royal Observer Corps (ROC) nuclear reporting role during the Cold War between 1961 and 1991. It was built to a standard design consisting of a 14” deep access shaft, monitoring room and a toilet/store. The first post had been on Cranleigh Common before the construction of this subterranean chamber known as 52 Dunsfold (TQ01823580) which reported to the headquarters at Horsham (TQ17882979). The Royal Observer Corps (ROC) was a civilian defence organisation operated by mainly civilian volunteers.

The first prototype post was built at Farnham, Surrey in 1956. The final trials were conducted on the usefulness of the underground posts by the end of September. There were to be two crews of four personnel for staffing these posts; at Farnham they trailed 2 ROC and 2 Home Office Scientific Advisory Branch. They were sealed inside with rations and sleeping arrangements. A few changes included amendments to the hatch and air ventilation louvres.

The Dunsfold ROC Post was Grade II Listed by Historic England in 2017.

ROC Post Dunsfold – archive photo prior to closure.
ROC Post Dunsfold

Since application for a Conservation Area and Waverley Borough Council’s rejection there have been a number of assets considered for Listed Building Status.  Historic England have since designated 5 Listed Structures on the Airfield site:

Primemeads Farm – Grade II

VSTOL Blast Pads – Grade II

Engine Running Pens – Grade II

Royal Observer Corps Monitoring Post – Grade II

Canadian War Memorial – Grade II

Please note: The aerodrome is private land and an active airfield. Access is not permitted to some of the buildings and features and we strongly discourage access without permission.


It is a rare feature that all three runways survive at their original lengths and are connected with a complete perimeter track with at least 75% of the aircraft hardstanding.
Two runways are much rarer than others elsewhere in the UK as they have a large number of the Mk II airfield lighting fittings intact, together with the cast-iron drains and French drains along each side of the runways.

Runway immediately after construction 1942
Around 1942 but note and contrast the  parallel “runway feature” alongside the main runway.

The runways were constructed for a Class ‘A’ bomber airfield. The white concrete of the runways and perimeter track were sprayed with a mixture of tar and wood chippings. This dark textured finish was optically non-reflective and from the air closely resembled grass. The chippings also added extra surface grip without damaging the aircraft tyres.

Runway wood chippings
Runway wood chippings
Dunsfold runways 1940’s
Dunsfold runways looking NW 1940’s

VSTOL Pad on Runway 1960

Airfield Light Fittings Sect1

Runway light fitting of WW2 era

Airfield Light Fittings Sect2
Airfield Light Fittings Sect3
Runway Catch Mechanism
Complete Runway Catch Mechanism
Runway Catch Mechanism
Remnants of Runway Catch Mechanism 2016

  • Aerial photograph 2013