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Historic England Research Records

Upavon Airfield

Hob Uid: 1430889
Location :
Wiltshire
Manningford, Enford, Upavon
Grid Ref : SU1540054600
Summary : A military airfield that represents a key site in the history of military aviation. It was established as long ago as 1912 and was used in both World Wars. The initial complex comprised temporary wooden huts, aircraft hangars and a hospital. These temporary structures were replaced by permanent ones, including barracks in 1913-1914. A number of these permanent buildings are extant, please see SU 15 SE 121, SU 15 SE 122, SU 15 SE 123, SU 15 SE 124 and SU 15 NE 122. The airfield was the home of the Central Flying School of the Royal Flying Corps. It retained this function through World War One and much of the interwar period with the exception of 1924-1935 when it was a Fleet Air Arm shore station. A further programme of rebuilding was underway by 1935. During World War Two the main function of the airfield was as a Flying Training School (for instructors). By 1944 the grass landing area had been supplemented with Sommerfeld Track steel mesh matting and had a range of hangars including Type A, C, L and Blister designs (the pre-war A and C types are extant). Post-War the airfield developed a transport role, and the Berlin airlift was planned from Upavon. The Royal Air Force station closed in 1993 and the airfield transferred to the army as Upavon Camp, Trenchard Lines. The reinforced grass airfield continues to be maintained and is used by transport aircraft and helicopters. It is thought to be the oldest active airfield in the country.
More information : A military airfield that represents a key site in the history of military aviation. It was established as long ago as 1912 and it was used both World Wars. The initial temporary structures were replaced by permanent ones, including barracks in 1913-1914. A number of these permanent buildings are extant. The airfield was the home of the Central Flying School of the Royal Flying Corps. It retained this function through World War One and much of the interwar period with the exception of 1924-1935 when it was a Fleet Air Arm shore station. A further programme of rebuilding was underway by 1935. In the Post-War period, the Berlin airlift was planned from Upavon. (1)

Ron Priddle's work on Wiltshire Airfields offers a detailed phase by phase account of the development of Upavon, supported by numerous photographs. The initial phase was a temporary camp comprising wooden huts, aircraft hangars and a military hospital, later rebuilt. The source lists the Commandants of the Central Flying School and explores the airfields role in both World Wars. Post-War the airfield developed a transport role. The Royal Air Force station closed in 1993 and the airfield transferred to the army as Upavon Camp, Trenchard Lines. The reinforced grass airfield continues to be maintained and is used by transport aircraft and helicopters. It is situated at SU 157 548. (2)

By 1944 the World War Two airfield included lengths of Sommerfeld Track landing areas to supplement the grass flying field, and also Type C, A, L and Blister aircraft hangars. The Willis and Holliss gazetteer gives the NGR of the airfield as 152 542. (3)

David Berryman provides a succinct account of the World War Two phase of use in his 2002 book on Wiltshire airfields of that conflict. (4)

An alternative source can be found in Chris Ashworth's Action Stations volume on south-west England. Ashworth claims that Upavon is the oldest active airfield in the country. (5)

Upavon airfield has been mapped from aerial photographs taken in 1945. These show the building complex at the airfield defended by barbed wire and a number of gun emplacements. A further defensive position is to the north-east at SU 1720 5511. Planes can be seen taxiing on the field between this position and the main camp, an area centred on SU 1648 5523. Protection from air attack is in the form of earth-covered shelters and trenches. A line of buildings can be seen to the north, centred on SU 1604 5549 and further buildings and hangers can be seen on the west, south and east sides of the airfield. (6-7)

A detailed description including photographs and site map can be found in this source. (8)


Sources :
Source Number : 1
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : English Heritage Thematic Listing Programme, May 2003: "Survey of Military Aviation Sites and Structures Summary Report"; Annexe 1, unpaged.
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Source Number : 2
Source : WINGS OVER WILTSHIRE
Source details : Priddle R, 2003: "Wings over Wiltshire: An Aeronautical History of Wiltshire", ALD Design and Print, pp 311-337
Page(s) : 311-337
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Source Number : 3
Source : Military airfields in the British Isles 1939-1945
Source details :
Page(s) : 202
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Source Number : 4
Source : VIRTUAL CATALOGUE ENTRY TO SUPPORT NAR MIGRATION
Source details : Berryman D, 2002: "Wiltshire Airfields in The Second World War", Countryside Books, pp 197-207.
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Source Number : 5
Source : Action stations, 5 : military airfields of the south-west
Source details :
Page(s) : 196-199
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Source Number : 6
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106G/UK/915 3091-3092 11-OCT-1945
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Source Number : 7
Source : Oblique aerial photograph reference number
Source details : RAF 106G/UK/915 4040-4042 11-OCT-1945
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Source Number : 8
Source : The Military Airfields of Britain. South Western England: Channel islands, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset, Wiltshire
Source details :
Page(s) : 266-270
Figs. :
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Monument Types:
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : Further additions 1935
Monument End Date : 1935
Monument Start Date : 1935
Monument Type : Military Building
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : 20th Century
Display Date : To army 1993
Monument End Date : 1993
Monument Start Date : 1993
Monument Type : Barracks, Military Airfield
Evidence : Extant Building, Structure
Monument Period Name : Early 20th Century
Display Date : Opened 1912
Monument End Date : 1912
Monument Start Date : 1912
Monument Type : Airfield, Military Camp, Military Hospital
Evidence : Documentary Evidence
Monument Period Name : Early 20th Century
Display Date : Rebuilt 1913-1914
Monument End Date : 1914
Monument Start Date : 1913
Monument Type : Military Airfield, Barracks
Evidence : Structure, Extant Building
Monument Period Name : First World War
Display Date : World War I
Monument End Date : 1918
Monument Start Date : 1914
Monument Type : Military Airfield
Evidence : Structure
Monument Period Name : Second World War
Display Date : World War II
Monument End Date : 1945
Monument Start Date : 1939
Monument Type : Aircraft Hangar (Type C), Aircraft Hangar (Type A), Aircraft Hangar (Type J), Blister Aircraft Hangar, Military Airfield
Evidence : Extant Building, Documentary Evidence, Structure

Components and Objects:
Related Records from other datasets:
External Cross Reference Source : SMR Number (Wiltshire)
External Cross Reference Number : SU15SE528
External Cross Reference Notes :
External Cross Reference Source : National Monuments Record Number
External Cross Reference Number : SU 15 SE 120
External Cross Reference Notes :

Related Warden Records :
Associated Monuments : 1465275
Relationship type : General association
Associated Monuments : 920962
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1430903
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1430912
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1430920
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1430933
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1430941
Relationship type :
Associated Monuments : 1508507
Relationship type :

Related Activities :
Associated Activities : Primary, LAND AT UPAVON AIRFIELD
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, WATCHKEEPER UAV, UPAVON AIRFIELD
Activity type : GEOPHYSICAL SURVEY
Start Date : 2007-01-01
End Date : 2007-12-31
Associated Activities : Primary, ENGLISH HERITAGE: MARDEN ENVIRONS VALE OF PEWSEY NMP
Activity type : AERIAL PHOTOGRAPH INTERPRETATION
Start Date : 2008-06-01
End Date : 2009-10-01