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RAF Kenley


Old 12th May 2009, 00:22
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RAF Kenley

Wondering if anyone had any old pics and memories of Kenley through the years. There are a few on websites but its always nicer to hear the stories on here.

Even though I lived just up the road, I only really experienced the place in the early 90's with 615VGS on what seemed like endless summer days which turned into the deserted and ever so slightly eerie dusk once everything had been packed up when we imagined what it must have been like over the years.

Did any other Ppruners fly with 615? Or for that matter fly anything else a bit noisier than gliders up there?

I await with interest!
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Old 12th May 2009, 08:50
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I remember going to Kenley around 1957 and having a wander round. Can't remember there being any security. There were quite a few piston Provosts there.
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Old 12th May 2009, 10:13
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See Peter Flint's book RAF Kenley ISBN 0 86138 036 3. OF 1965. Lived near Kenley during the war (Old Lodge Lane), exciting times for a young lad (aged 4 during the B.of B.) and in mid 1944 when we seemed to get every V1 destined for Croydon flying over us. Cadet Field Days during the 1950s' for flying in the Oxfords and Ansons of the Comms. Sqn.. Meteor went "off the end" of the main runway sometime in the early 1950s' (?) though why it was at Kenley can't say.
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Old 12th May 2009, 10:25
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A school friend of mine in the mid-50s lived in Whyteleafe Hill, just off the airfield, so when I visited him we'd often wander though the woods and watch the goings on.

In June, 1958, May, 1959 and June, 1964 I visited Kenley as an ATC Cadet for Surrey Wing parades.

In the early 60s, again with the ATC, and when my wife-to-be was in the WJAC we both went gliding at Kenley. Unfortunately I have no pictures..

Good to see from Google Earth that the place appears to be intact. Does any flying take place there nowadays?
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Old 12th May 2009, 12:03
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Check Surrey Hills Gliding Club. MoD have been trying to break up the airfield, build houses etc., but Local Auth have stomped on that, so Kenley looks safe for a few more years. Check that site as launches most every day when wx ok
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Old 14th May 2009, 22:23
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My dad was based at Kenley in the late 50's - I went to Kenley County Primary School (the best school in the whole world then), and we lived in MQs at Foxon Close - which were still under construction then.

There were still a number of WWII wrecks around the perimeter then, and I remember playing in the cockpit of one - I think it was a Hurricane. ISTR there was the hulk of a larger aircraft there, maybe a Wellington. We also found quite a lot of live ammo in the grass and surrounding woods, which we did very dangerous things with.

Halcyon days....
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Old 15th May 2009, 00:03
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I also used to play on Kenley in the 50's and remember either a Hurricane or Spitfire as referred to by reynolds no. I remember the large wreck as a Lanc but I may be wrong - I know you could get inside it and manually operate the rudders or elevators.
exciting times for a young lad (aged 4 during the B.of B.)
My mother and 4 older siblings lived in Caterham during the B of B (dad in the army) and the family's house was destroyed during a raid on Kenley. My mother only just got into the Anderson before the house was hit, and I often think, if she hadnt I wouldnt be here now (check my age!). By the time the V1 s arrived aw ditor they had been evacuated to the West Country
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Old 15th May 2009, 15:32
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As an air cadet I was a regular at Kenley from August to November 1969 recording 35 flights in the two resident Kirby Cadet Mark IIIs (XA300/301); memory says 615GS also had a Slingsby T21 as well. Three other memories:-

1. On Battle of Britain day when on base leg seeing a Vulcan inbound to Biggin below me (albeit a fair away to the South);

2. Being given the keys to one of the Land Rover 'Yellow Perils'' and being told during a rainy day 'go and play'

3. Freezing when cycling up to Kenley from Merstham in November...
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Old 18th May 2009, 15:28
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Kenley memories

Here are a few pictures to bring back some memories..

The dispersal area with Officers' Mess to the left of the picture.

The remains of the Lincoln.

Aerial view of the Control Tower and end of runway 03.

The last Kenley Spitfire!

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Old 20th May 2009, 22:39
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frelon - great pickies - thanks! Any more to post?

If you do a google search on videos with 'Kenley Spitfire' there's some great bw warmtime footage of Spits and Hurris at kenley. Sound's a bit iffy but some great footage none the less..........
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Old 19th Jun 2009, 21:15
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Here's one taken in 1968. A few more houses in undershoot of R/W 03 than the previous pictures, although runway numbers have now been removed. Public footpath can be clearly seen straight across the airfiled.

This next one was taken on approach to 03 showing how close the houses were to the threshold. Also shows how runway sloped and the chalk pit off the end across the valley. Picture taken from cockpit of Beagle Pup.

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Old 19th Jun 2009, 23:18
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Great pics. Often walk along northwestern part of the peri track (top of of Frans 744's first pic). Think most of the dispersals evident are now grassed over? The blast pens are still there, but the only concrete I can recall are top left of the airfield and top right corner adjacent to the 21 threshold where the VGS usually camp out when launching to the south.

My walk takes me across the valley and round the chalk pit when I can stop and watch the gliding for a bit longer.

Presume the "public footpath" (use it at your peril!), now a tatty strip of concrete or tarmac, is where the public road ran before the site became the airfield Douglas Bader would recall.

They now have some crowd control barriers set up in the vicinity of the runway thresholds in an attempt to stop wayward civilians wandering onto the live site while gliding is taking place. If it works the requirement to fence of the central grass won't be necessary.
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Old 25th Aug 2009, 11:41
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Hi everyone,
I have read with great interest the comments about RAF Kenley. I did my National Service there from 1956 to 1958.
While I am not a pilot, I was however a fireman there and spent many days on duty in a crash tender by dispersal watching the cadets do their ‘circuits and bumps’.

The only old wreck that was on the airfield during that time was an old lanc that we used for fire practice and fire displays. The others must have been added after 1958

We had a Home Command fire competition there in 1957? as I remember.
The other RAF stations sent teams as well as the Navy and also Americans based in England then.

I was also there during the time that “HEATHROW DIRECTOR” was there as an ATC Cadet.
I was one of the fireman sent around the cadets hut to replenish the fire extinguishers that they had gleefully set off. Do you remember that Heathrow Director?

What did your father do at Kenley reynoldsno1? Maybe I knew him

It was nice to see the pics old airfield and dispersal area again albeit only from the air.
No crash tenders to be seen though, as the Fire Section personnel and equipment were moved to Biggin Hill in early 1968 . One day before I was demobbed actually. So I spent my last night alone in the barracks. Those two years I spent there however are fond memories.
I am 72 now (celebrated my 70th with a sky jump) and have tried to contact old mates from there but have only been able to find one. He now lives in Czechoslovakia and I am in Canada.
I would welcome any e-mails about the old place….Went there last in 1983 with my Canadian wife. We didn’t see anything though as all the old place was gone.

Well, thanks for the opportunity to chat guys
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Old 2nd Sep 2009, 23:44
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I joined 615VGS Kenley in 1975 and have never left, and I took Command of the VGS in 2005. As you can imagine I have developed an extensive knowledge of the the Airfield since and numerous photos.

I would just like to correct an earlier post regarding the RAF disposing of the site, this has never been on the agenda as Kenley is by deed of an air ministry act of 1932 one of the most secure (from a tenure point of view) airfield the RAF operate from, as the lease with the City of London who own about 80% of the freehold is free and un-ending all the time the the RAF continue its use. ( I would like to see someone try to right a clause like that now!)

Not only that, if the RAF were to terminate its use the land would revert to common land which you cant build on without an act of parliament changing its status, so its well down any development list behind green fields, brown fields, green belt and national parks!

The biggest threat to aviation (gliding) ceasing at Kenley is the high risk of an accident caused by wayward pedestrians walking about all over the site in front of landing gliders and the winch believing it to be be common land and their right.

In 2006 the Council said we could erect a 4ft high fence around the outer edge of the perimiter under permitted development rules, so the fence was purchased and contractors appointed, on the week they started work the Council withdrew the permitted development rights and a planning application was submitted and subsequently refused.

A second appliaction for a different style of fence was submitted in 2008 but that has also been refused this year

Also in 2008 the HSE said we need a fence to continue operating

We are currently trialing pedestrian barriers at the high risk areas and hopefully these will be the final solution that satisfies all concerned.

Meanwhile the MOD are persuing the Council to recover the cost of the first fence (£110k ish) which sits in my compound

If anyone has any specific questions ask away I'll try to help, if I dont know I can usually find someone who does, since I've seen it from most angles in 35 years and 10,000 launches!
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Old 3rd Sep 2009, 07:52
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<<to replenish the fire extinguishers that they had gleefully set off. Do you remember that Heathrow Director? >>

What, me?? Nah... you mistook someone else for me!!!
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Old 3rd Sep 2009, 11:54
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RAF Kenley

Hmmn....Well...OK....Maybe I'll take it with a grain of salt

Hope you are well amd have a nice day
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Old 27th Sep 2009, 18:19
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Kenley Pics(Farns)

Would the initials be KF perchance.
The houses on the approach (Gauntlet Cres) (married patch) were in fact built after powered flying ceased,and therefore of little consequence to operations, but provided a welcome boost to potential female contacts for lonely winch drivers !!!
I think these have now gone to be replaced by an expensive development.
In the 60/70's Kenley had stayed in its wartime state with all its messes,and those buildings that survived the Aug 18th (1940) raid.
615 GS eventually moved into the metal T2 hangar,and then when the RAF left, into the Belfast with the old control tower as its HQ.
So there we were, our own Battle of Britain airfield to ourselves,and in the last of the famous buildings.
With the end of the "messes" we used to frequent the "Roundabout Cafe" in Caterham Valley,and those that were old enough the "Wattenden Arms".
Having a technical civil servant (Fl Lt George Nunn) as our CO, non flying days were spent (when not sorting our various personal transport)constructing a variety of wheeled machines for "glider retrieve,cable towing,and a control caravan with a proper lights system, wind generator",(and tea facilities) (no bats at Kenley)
615 had formed out of several relocated schools including Detling,and was proud to carry on the traditional number from the wartime "County of Surrey" squadron.
Like Farns and Frelon the stories that surround such a historic location are legion,but i always regret not being around when the spitfire was on the dump (after the Reach for the sky film)
When i joined the local 450 squadron (age 12) the hulk had gone,although we still had a merlin engine on a stand in our store near the small arms range.
Anyway thats enough for now must keep some good stories for later.
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Old 3rd Oct 2009, 21:06
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Yes the initials are KF and Frelon is MT.
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Old 5th Oct 2009, 16:07
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Many years later RAF Kenley was being guarded by some lads in green as part of an 80s exercise to test the humble British soldier against the might of the Russian war machine.

Unfortunately, despite it being a home fixture, the Blue team was not aware of the rules of the game, in particular the specs of the bats, balls etc.

The Red team landed in a Chinookski, and one of the Red team members proceeded to pull-start his petrol-powered stone-grinder as he ran down the ramp with his mates who wielded AK47s and AR15s.

The Blue team promptly locked themselves in the loo until all the shouting was over, and Mummy came to pick them up.

And thus it was that OC A Squadron 21 SAS got sent a big laundry bill by the Quarter-Master of the Royal Somethingorothers, and the Chinook's loadie got a hernia from laughing so much.
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Old 5th Oct 2009, 19:51
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Memories of Kenley

As a young resident of Purley, I can remeber going to a B of B display sometime in the late 40,s I remember a sequence by the Belgian airforce with Spitfires plus a Tiger Moth being "stolen" and beating up the chasing authorities with what then could be described as crazy flying.

At around the same time I went up Hayes Lane to view the gliding to find nothing happening except for an open wheeled front engined racing car pounding the perimiter track. The body work was in French racing blue, and I have often wondered whose it was and what kind, Gordini, Lago Talbot? At that time an ERA was even painted blue
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