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RAF Kenley

Old 5th Oct 2009, 22:56
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Safely retired now are we !!!
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Old 6th Oct 2009, 20:09
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POBJOY
Yes, have hung up my boots for now. Now play with a '59 Healey 3000 instead.
Somewhere I have photo of the AC drifting through the snow outside the Hangar.
Rgds
KF
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Old 7th Oct 2009, 23:47
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Kenley Hangars

The Kenley hangars did sterling service rebuilding various modes of staff transport including a TR3 the AC, and my beetle.
Kenley in the 60/70's was a fabulous place to be and i miss it very much.
We were lucky to have such freedom and a virtual free run of the rovers and austin. Spinning in the snow was a regular winter pastime and we were always looking out for more power to get more spins.
My beetle "1200" would manage two turns from 50ish down the runway,but i managed to get a couple of runs in the CFI's "1500" from over 60 and do 3 turns.(He was watching from the tower mouth agog) as he thought my request to borrow his brand new car was a joke !!! (great days) at a great place
PC
The Hangar lives on in shots from "Reach from the sky", and the dispersal images were done in the original gliding huts down towards the dump.
If i had been a bit older the spit would have been rescued by 450.I tried to get a Piston Provost for us to play with but the "powers to be " were more interested in starting a band,hence my interest in "helping out" at 615.
Comper is being moved to new base (closer to home) for some long o/due TLC.
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Old 8th Oct 2009, 19:19
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Is that the blue Comper we used to see performing at Biggin Pobjoy?

Walked across Kenley with some friends on Saturday - I must have walked around the western peri track a hundred times, but for the first time I went around the eastern side and took a look at the war memorial and hangar area.

Cheers

Treadders
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Old 11th Oct 2009, 23:30
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Yes, the Comper did its first display at the Air Fair (1974) after extracting it from Lasham, and sorting it out with much help from other TC members.
It then performed shows on a regular basis until the early 80's after returning from Iran (dont ask)
I was pleased to do the Kenley display (was also doing the Turb Thing) as the place meant so much to me.
We also managed to do the original Croydon event,and would "gate crash" the odd "Moth Event" supporting one of the clubs Tigers.
Of course all this was non radio in those days,and great fun.
We also managed to fly out of Gatwick (off one of the service roads) after coming back from the middle east.
The machine had been owned by the well know J Kent when he was CO of Tangmere,so perhaps we will "visit" whats left of that sometime.
Great film story.Man wins Euro lottery, buys Kenley,kicks out developers,rebuilds it to post war standards,gives 450,and 615 a decent HQ,reopens naffi,and fills hangar with warbirds,ATC machines,and fugitives from the TC.
None of my machines ever went into the Belfast,but the odd Tiger and Turb from RHill "dropped in" and had to spend the night there.However my Beetle had major surgery performed in its hallowed space,right where the Hurricanes are in Reach for the Sky.
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Old 12th Oct 2009, 02:26
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I think the low level raid on Aug 18th 1940 led to some improvements in being able to spot raiders before they were on top of you.
Down at Burntwood lane (near the school) i think an anti aircraft platform still exists.
This looks very much like the same design as one at Brooklands (that also suffered a low level raid) and must have been built post Aug 1940,as it is not mentioned in any records for the raid.
The Kenley hangars did not stand much of a chance,as the roof structure was wood (Belfast Truss) covered in roofing felt.
The combination of dry wood and tarred covering was no match for dozens of 50kg bombs.
When the days flying finished at 615 GS,the final duty was to "throw" the main power switch to the hangar in lieu of the rather elderly wiring and "heaters".
The 1978 fire started in the ajoining bay (in a room used as a paper store) due to a heater being covered,a sad end to a historic structure.
When the hangar had been built during the first war i suspect the doors were also wooden clad.
The "non standard " control tower was added on (prob in 39) but i have no accurate info on that.
However the good news is that i have one of the original hangar bricks (from the door arches) to start the rebuild !!!
PC
Kenley also had the "Gates from Hornchurch" when that station closed (officers mess entrance),and its own band music as played at main parades.
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Old 13th Oct 2009, 07:53
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Think there is still a band as when we walked behind the hangar the sound of drumming could be heard issuing forth!

It was a very windy day at Cape Kenley and, although the winch and launch control point were out in the field, all the gliders were hangared. The new "crowd control" railings near the hangar were lying on the ground and had presumably been flattened by the winds the night before.

I've distinct memory of the Comper at the 1976 Biggin Battle of Britain Day which was the first show I attended there - up until 1980 I missed all the rest as both the Air Fair and the "At Home" were in term time and I was away at school. I've recently seen a pic of it covered in sponsors' stickers - that something to do with the Iranian trip?

.Man wins Euro lottery, buys Kenley,kicks out developers,rebuilds it to post war standards,gives 450,and 615 a decent HQ,reopens naffi,and fills hangar with warbirds,ATC machines,and fugitives from the TC
Yep, I do the lottery just in case!
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Old 24th Oct 2009, 23:19
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Yes Treadders
Comper left Lands End (St Just) airfield in Dec 81,and landed past the snow drifts at Biggin.The Austrailia attempt finished with a forced landing at "Jask" in Iran with rotor arm failure.It gained many stickers en route including Iran.
I was not premitted to fly on into Pakistan so had to return to Dubai on a dubious single mag.
Managed to get a lift back to Gatwick in a 707 freighter.
Most expensive landing fee "Damascus" 300 dollars.
Second most expensive "Exeter"!!!
Lots of help from everyone including BA outposts,and Dubai.
Cobair and Biggin were great,and flight through "Bekka valley" very stimulating.
Came back to a bust Lakers,and the Falklands war.
Gatwick SATCO arranged escape out of officialdom and back to Redhill.
Stickers still there.
PC
Managed a quick visit to Kenley last week and whilst exploring the area near the Gym/Squash courts came across a complete gun emplacement "with stainless mount" that i had never seen before.Must have been for airfield ground defence aligned towards Whyteleafe Hill.
Left for Redhill after extracting second "brick" for rebuild !!
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Old 24th Oct 2009, 23:21
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Kenley Guns

PM me Treadders for image.
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Old 26th Oct 2009, 09:40
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Kenley

Jusr a few more notes on Kenley. My RAF 414 log book shows I took off with a Mr Smiles, (Civvy Airwork Instructor) from 10 BFTS at RAF Anstey on 20th November 1952 to land at Kenley ... apparently to collect an urgently required Chipmunk part. I was 19! I do recall a very active airfield and a small MU in a blister type hangar where the part was handed over.

Forty years later I bought a house in Cedar Walk off Hayes Lane and spent many a happy hour with my son, cycling around the airfield perimeter. Also recall the many pictures of WW2 aircraft and pilots in the nearby pub... (Wattenden Arms or similar) I know my son was mighty impressed to be close to the site where so many youngsters of his age fought in the B of B to help save the country from Germany. He used to get quite mad at the thought of it all being given away to the EU by the politicians.

Around 1995 ish, I did offer the author Peter Flint a helicopter flight over the aerodrome to precisely re-photo the pics in his book on Kenley. Sadly I think he passed away too soon.

I also seem to remember that a Mr Peter Michael of Quantel used to land his AS 350 Squirrel at his home just off the airfield and I read somewhere there was actually an airshow there around the 1980s? Lesser known probably is the 1930s existence of a second airfield just down the hill toward Caterham. Signs of it can still be seen from the air.

Love the thread and happy nostalgia times to all.


Dennis K
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Old 1st Nov 2009, 00:17
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Kenley

DK
Sounds like the man who gave spirited Helio displays !!!!
Pobjoy
If it is, the first one i saw was when an Enstrom shot vertically off the deck at Shoreham doing 360's on the climb.Must have been the Turbo version with light fuel,looked great.
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Old 1st Nov 2009, 00:55
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Racing car at Kenley

Bigal
The racing car you saw may well have been connected with Prince Bira of Siam,who was a well known racing driver,and also an ATC gliding instructor.
He lived in London after the war,and his "racing" colour was pale blue.He also owned and flew a miles aircraft (same colour),and also sailplanes.
With Brooklands no longer available (one of his favourite places) The Kenley perimeter track would have made a good substitute for practice, (and also much smoother).
There had been a "Home Command" gliding site at Hamsey Green (small private airfield) near Selsdon, (also home of a certain Comper Swift),and this was one of the schools that amalgamated after the war to form 615 GS.
There was a certain ammount of "racing" with ATC landrovers,but the practice was very much frowned upon by the senior members of staff.
Apparently at a certain ATC school in the West Country two landrovers were "rolled" and the school closed !!
This was at either St E..l,or St M....n,however the driver of one of the rovers went on to become a centre insructor.
If you want to hear the story of the Turbulent that landed at Kenley with engine trouble i will do another post (its a real hoot,and treadders has heard it before)
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Old 9th Jun 2015, 07:18
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KENLEY

Used to live closeby as a kid and played in the shelters, after school Mess visits as a paper boy giving horse tips, and scrumping near a concrete structure aa by Burntwood Lane, as well as eating at Roundabout Cafe at bottom of Burntwood Lane. Mates dads were RAF 58/60 and lived in Foxon Close and Hillhurst Gdns, Messrs Turner and Holland respectively. Young Robert Holland flew BOAC in 70's.

I went back to Kenley 2014 with my sons and we walked all over and got kicked off the glider runway...found squarish flat concrete slabs off the east perimeter, but walking north of a/f towards Whyteleafe Hill, found well hidden away after trampling thru untrodden bushland, amongst trees, a remote square tallish building under tree canopy with no visible doors or windows. Was that an ops post?

The Wattenden Pub still exists with photos and comments on the walls inside. My dad used to take us kids there in the 50's for lemonade and crisps and then get an ice cream at Boyd's End going back around perimeter road on way home.

They were the days my friend......
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Old 12th Jun 2015, 23:29
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RAF Kenley

Spent several happy hours accompanying cadet to Gliding at Kenley as a young CI (and then baby VR(T) officer) when I started with 1924 (Shirley) Sqn ATC in 1988. Nice to see the airfield continuing as a flying site, unlike so many round here, RAF Wyton (airfield only), Alconbury, Oakington, Waterbeach where they seem to be all going for housing/industry. Long may Kenley thrive.

Last edited by brokenlink; 13th Jun 2015 at 10:23.
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Old 16th Jun 2015, 21:29
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Kenley Survives (Just)

KENLEY (or at least the airfield part) has at least survived the ravages of complete destruction.
Its part in the defence of the UK in 1940 has never really been credited and it was lucky to survive the Aug 18th raid with most of the camp facilities intact (including the ops room)
The loss of all but one of the WW1 hangars was a blow, but in fact most of the other buildings survived which helped to keep it fully operational.
I well remember my first visit there in 1960 (to join the ATC) and wondering why there were so many 'parade grounds' when in fact they were the floors of the flattened hangars.
In 1960 all the mess facilities were still in use as was the NAFFI complete with cinema and a large snooker room. A Mk 16 'High Back' Spit (RR263) stood at the end of the main entrance road, so it looked and felt like a 'time warp' of 1940.
Several buildings including the surviving Belfast hangar and the main parade ground are featured in Reach For The Sky, so its history lives on in black and white.
It appears that the Friends of Kenley are arranging for a RAF BoB flight display in August which will be great as the other proposed air shows have had to be cancelled due to a lack of vision with the powers to be (not the organisers).
It is 55 years since I first flew from this hallowed location that had been changed from a peaceful Surrey common into a front line battle ground. It held the line in 1940 and is still holding on !
I shall be revisiting my spiritual home in Sept for a 'nostalg' and hope the ATC have started gliding again by then. PP
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Old 16th Jun 2015, 22:09
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Kenley Building

Hi There N Silver if you are still 'on thread', if you can be a bit more precise re the location of said windowless building I may be able to help.
I was in your part of the world early in the year, but you must have been around Kenley just as i was joining 450 ATC .
The Burntwood lane structure is a post 1940 OP/antiaircraft elevated platform (same as Brooklands) no doubt built as a result of the low level Donier raid.
If you PM me I will send you my latest aerial view of Kenley plus a few notes.
I to remember the Boydon End Café at Hayes Lane, and the staff of 615 GS used the Roundabout Café when Kenleys catering facilities finally closed.
Great days driving an Austin 1 Ton 4x4 open back to the NAFFI full of course cadets,H&S what was that; I think we called it common sense. PP
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Old 31st Aug 2015, 12:14
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Hi POBJOY and Kenley RAF

Thanks for info re ack ack in Burntwood Lane as we went scrumping in disused orchard 100 yards away.

Regarding that remote square tallish building under tree canopy with no visible doors or windows below may give its location on South East part of air field.

Looking on Google satellite map run on runway from Wattenden end towards Whyteleafe Hill, pass 615 Gliders building on your right, continue into a grassed area and turn right say 2 o'clock (from run way direction) or 4 o'clock on map and walk 100 yards and under those trees was this square building.

Have a great trip and no doubt you will have a feed at the Wattenden and read stuff on the walls and owner may have more memorabilia stashed away in loft. Worth an ask. Cheers NS
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Old 31st Aug 2015, 17:25
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Hello Kenley-ites, I only became aware of this illuminating thread (and the "Kenley 2015" one) recently, and can't claim any aviation credentials at Kenley. So I hesitate to comment - but will anyway!

Up to the age of six, I lived in Whyteleafe Hill, about a quarter of a mile due east of the Rwy 31 threshold. That could account for a lot, although down in our steep valley none of the airfield manoeuvring areas was visible (as many of you would know well). I seem to recall a few a/c flying low over us, but we were more interested in news of the Comet's progress into service.

My older brother would cross the road and a token fence to climb trees in the woods on the slope, sometimes enticing me to follow. I was convinced we would be spotted, arrested, or maybe even shot by the scores of guards I assumed were on patrol. (No doubt these fears were nurtured by my sibling...) Just before we moved abroad, circumstances forced me for a couple of weeks to return home from school in Purley alone, as my dear brother was doing some after-school activity. (Sounds ridiculous now...) Boarding the 115 bus in Purley Way, I was horrified to see a man in RAF uniform. Realising he would be on the lookout for me, I scuttled terrified upstairs, hoping he would not recognise me in school uniform. (I think he got off the bus at Kenley village.)

One evening in the autumn of 1955, there was an official party at the officers' mess at the aerodrome in connection with The Dam Busters film, which I now see was already on general release in the UK. My parents and I were in the UK on leave. The bash was probably one of many, as Kenley hardly seems the most relevant airfield, but I seem to recall my parents telling me that several cast and production members were there, as well as RAF top brass. I guess that shows that Kenley was still a significant London-area base in the early-to-mid Fifties?

These days, "running" the dogs, I regularly see Kenley-based gliders (not to mention buzzards) soaring in the Chaldon/Farthing Down area, of course. Rarely take the dogs to Kenley, but one of the guys gave me (not a glider cognoscento) a real fright a few years back. We were somewhere on the east boundary, outside the peri track. The wind was moderate-to-fresh westerly, so I was surprised to see a glider low in the west, heading for the field. Coming straight towards us, it looked as if it was trying to land downwind. It soon became apparent that it was going much too fast for the LDA. You've guessed the rest?

Well, you can thank a wet Bank-Holiday Monday for this mundane contribution! Time to venture out into the residual drizzle with the hounds, as you may agree...

PS
I missed the August flypast, due to lack of local publicity, and XH558 failed to show for the last time at Dunsfold yesterday. The "Ten" high-speed taxi-run was good, though. Well done, Brooklands!
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Old 31st Aug 2015, 22:18
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Kenley Dam Busters

CS You will recall that Reach For The Sky was made at Kenley in 55-56 so the 'event' may well have something to do with that.
In fact that film has given us a legacy of Kenley at that time with good shots of the camp and the last Belfast hangar (complete with hurricanes).
That film also gave Kenley its MK16 Spitfire (now in France).
The earlier film with Hurricanes 'Angels on five' also has some content including some of the old flight sheds at the northern end that were in use for ATC gliding. Several extra Hurricanes flew in from Portugal for that film and returned whence they came (via Tangmere)
PP
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Old 31st Aug 2015, 23:47
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Thanks POBJOY, looks like I had memory failure there. Reach for the Sky makes a lot more sense and, yes, I remember seeing it a year or two later abroad. I'll have to dig out my dad's memoirs - perhaps More or even Bader himself may have attended.
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