RAF Hullavington (ICAO: EGDV) was a Royal Air Force station located at Hullavington, near Chippenham, Wiltshire, England. The station opened in June 1937 and was predominately used for various training purposes. It closed on 31 March 1992 when it was transferred to the British Army and renamed Buckley Barracks. The airfield part of the site, known as Hullavington Airfield, continued to be used for RAF gliding operations until 2016 when it was sold to technology company Dyson.
|Near Hullavington, Wiltshire in England|
Former hangar at RAF Hullavington
|Type||Royal Air Force flying station|
|Owner||Ministry of Defence|
|Operator||Royal Air Force|
|Identifiers||ICAO: EGDV, WMO: 03637|
|Elevation||104 metres (341 ft) AMSL|
The site was opened on 14 June 1937 with No 9 Flying Training School arriving from RAF Thornaby on 10 July. Leonard Cheshire V.C. trained here in 1939. With the beginning of the Second World War, top officers from allied nations came to Hullavington to share ideas and ways of using aircraft. Ten Blenheims from No 114 Squadron arrived at the base on 1 September 1939, and were later joined by seven from No 139 Squadron. This was a safety move as a sustained attack was expected at the East Anglian bomber bases on the announcement of war being declared. As this didn't happen, all the Blenheims had departed Hullavington by 16 September 1939. An effective Met. Office was also stationed at Hullavington, and an aircraft which left every day at dawn flew at various heights in order to send data back for the Met. Office to assess the weather.
In 1970, RAF Hullavington hosted the World Aerobatic Championships.
In 1992, the entire airfield was designated as a conservation area. English Heritage (now Historic England) later stated that "It embodies, to a unique degree, the improved architectural quality associated with the post-1934 expansion of the RAF. Most of the original buildings have survived and form a particularly coherent and well-ordered ensemble."
In 1993, a Senior Aircraftman was convicted of arson and sent to jail for 5 years and his accomplice received a fine of £1000. The hangar was the location of all the parachutes for the armed services, and the damage and loss of stock affected morale at the base.
Units posted to the stationEdit
The station has performed many roles, summarised with dates below.
Royal Air ForceEdit
- No. 9 (Pilot) Advanced Flying Unit RAF between June 1937 and July 1942.
- No. 9 Maintenance Unit RAF between 8 July 1938 and 31 December 1959 (renamed No. 10 MU during February 1939) as an Aircraft Storage Unit with Airspeed Oxfords and Avro Ansons.
- No. 10 Group Communications Flight was formed here on 1 June 1940 and used multiple aircraft types.
- No. 88 Gliding School disbanded here during May 1948.
- No. 114 Squadron RAF was reformed here on 20 November 1958 with the de Havilland Canada DHC-1 Chipmunk T.10 and stayed until 15 December 1958 when the squadron moved to RAF Nicosia.
- No. 621 Volunteer Gliding School (VGS).
- No. 625 Volunteer Gliding School (VGS) between 1992 and 2013.
- No. 1532 BAT Flight.
- Balloon Operations Squadron.
- Bristol University Air Squadron.
- Empire Central Flying School between 1 April 1942 and 7 May 1946.
- Empire Flying School between 7 May 1946 and 31 July 1949.
- Parachute Support Unit.
- Primary Flying Squadron.
- No. 1 Air Navigation School was disbanded here on 1 May 1954.
- No. 2 Flying Training School with the Hunting Percival Provost T.1 between May 1954 and 1957.
- Air Electronics School between 1957 and 1962.
- No. 2 Air Navigation School between 1962 and 15 September 1965, when it transferred to RAF Gaydon.
- No. 16 Parachute Heavy Drop Company Royal Army Ordnance Corps from 1971 until it disbanded 1 September 1976.
- Parachute Packing Unit/Parachute Servicing Flight between 1967 and 1992.
- No. 4626 (Aeromedical Evacuation) Squadron RAuxAF between 1986 and 1995.
Royal Air Force RegimentEdit
- No. 5 Wing RAF Regiment between 1982 and 1990.
- No. 2 Squadron RAF Regiment between 1983 and 1988.
- 2 & 15 Sqn RAF Regiment from 1983 until RAF Hullavington was closed to the RAF in 1996.
Air Transport AuxiliaryEdit
- No. 8 Ferry Pilot Pool between November 1940 and March 1941.
- No. 1427 (Ferry Training) Flight between 18 May and 5 September 1942.
Defence Codification Data CentreEdit
The Defence Codification Data Centre (DCDC) lodged in a purpose-built computer suite at RAF Hullavington from its establishment in 1966 until its dispersal to Glasgow in 1986, where it merged with its parent body, the Defence Codification Authority.
Closure and post RAF useEdit
RAF Hullavington formally closed on 31 March 1993.
The technical site part of the station was transferred to the British Army and became known as Hullavington Barracks. In 2003, it was renamed Buckley Barracks after the Victoria Cross winner John Buckley. The barracks are home to 9 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps.
The airfield part of the site was retained by the RAF and was known as Hullavington Airfield. In 1992 and 1993 two Volunteer Gliding Schools (VGS) moved in, operating the Viking, a modified version of the civilian Grob 103. During 2013, No. 621 VGS and No. 625 VGS merged to form No. 621 VGS. As of 1 September 2016, it was announced by 621 VGS Historical Flight that there would be no further flying from Hullavington.
In early 2016, the UK Government announced that the airfield was one of twelve that would be sold as part of the strategy for the MOD estate, although no date for the sale was given. In November 2016, the MOD gave an estimated disposal date of that year. The site was later sold to the technology company Dyson, which has headquarters nearby at Malmesbury. In March 2017, Dyson submitted plans to convert two 1940s hangars into a research and development centre. By August 2018, four hundred staff were engaged on automotive development at the site and the company planned to create a ten-mile car test track.
Hangar 88 is currently used by M4 Karting.
- Philpott 2008, p. 273.
- Ashworth 1982, p. 104.
- "Obituary: Lord Cheshire VC", 1 August 1992, The Independent
- 'Personal Memories of Two World Wars', Raymond Welcomme (January 1987)
- "1970". German Aerobatics. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- "Conservation Area description: Hullavington Airbase" (PDF). Wiltshire Council. October 2005. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
- "Historic Military Aviation Sites: Conservation Guidance". Historic England. 2003. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
- "Airman jailed for pounds 19m fire [sic]". The Independent. 7 January 1993. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- "Corporal 'laughed as hangar burned'". The Independent. 7 January 1993. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- "RAF Hullavington airfield". Control Towers. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- Lake 1999, p. 135.
- "Hullavington". Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- Lake 1999, p. 120.
- Lake 1999, p. 113.
- Jefford 1988, p. 57.
- Lake 1999, p. 116.
- "625 Volunteer Gliding Squadron at Hullavington Airfield « 625 VGS 625 VGS". www.625vgs.org.uk. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
- Lake 1999, p. 64.
- Lake 1999, p. 19.
- Ashworth 1982, p. 105.
- "On a wing and a prayer". Wiltshire Life. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- "15 Squadron Royal Air Force Regiment". RAF Regiment. Royal Air Force. Retrieved 2 June 2016.
- March, Peter R. (1998). Brace by Wire to Fly-By-Wire – 80 Years of the Royal Air Force 1918–1998. RAF Fairford: Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund Enterprises. p. 160. ISBN 1-899808-06-X.
- "Barracks to salute hero". This is Wiltshire. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- "Home". 621 Volunteer Gliding Squadron. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- "The History of Hullavington Airfield". 621 Volunteer Gliding Squadron. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- "Aircraft at 621VGS". 621 Volunteer Gliding Squadron. Retrieved 6 August 2014.
- "621 VGS Historic Flight - Timeline | Facebook". www.facebook.com. Retrieved 1 September 2016.
- "Defence Minister Mark Lancaster announces release of MOD sites for development". MoD. Retrieved 18 January 2016.
- "A Better Defence Estate" (PDF). Ministry of Defence. November 2016. p. 24. Retrieved 9 November 2016.
- "Dyson buys Hullavington airfield for new tech centre". BBC News: Wiltshire. 28 February 2017.
- "Planning application 17/02344/FUL". Wiltshire Council. 13 March 2017. Retrieved 25 April 2017.
- Johnston, Chris (30 August 2018). "Dyson gears up for electric car testing". BBC News. Retrieved 22 September 2018.
- Singleton, Sarah (26 January 2019). "Food outlet at Hullavington's Hangar 88 refused planning permission". The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald. Retrieved 11 March 2019.
- Ashworth, Christopher (1982). Action Stations 5; Military Airfields of the South-West. Cambridge: Patrick Stephens. ISBN 0-85059-510-X.
- Jefford MBE, Wg Cdr C G (1988). RAF Squadrons. A comprehensive record of the movement and equipment of all RAF squadrons and their antecedents since 1912. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-85310-053-6.
- Lake, A (1999). Flying units of the RAF. Shrewsbury: Airlife. ISBN 1-84037-086-6.
- Philpott, Wing Commander (Ret'd) Ian M (2008). The Royal Air Force 1930 to 1939 an encyclopedia of the inter-war years, Volume II - Rearmament. Barnsley: Pen & Sword. ISBN 1-84415-154-9.