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HER Number:53944
Type of record:Monument



Grid Reference:SK 944 903
Map Sheet:SK99SW

Full description

Hemswell Airfield was opened in June 1918, and was known during the First World War as Harpswell Airfield. It was closed in 1967. {1}{2}

The first airfield at Hemswell was opened in 1918 by the Royal Flying Corps and was called RFCS Harpswell after the nearby village of that name. After the First World War the site returned to farmland, and in 1935 a new RAF Station, now called Hemswell, was built as one of the permanent bases being set up to accommodate the rapidly expanding RAF. On 31 December 1936 Hemswell opened as one of the first airfields to accommodate Bomber Command which had been formed earlier that year. No.144 Squadron and No.61 Squadron both arrived in 1937 and took part in the very earliest operations of the Second World War. The last hostile operation from Hemswell was in April 1945. It continued in use during the Cold War and in 1959 became the lead Station of a group of five Thor Missile sites. They were on full alert, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year until the missiles were withdrawn in 1963. The Station ceased all RAF activities in 1967. The 1954 film The Dam Busters was mainly filmed at RAF Hemswell. Scenes were filmed in the front entrance, bedrooms, anteroom and dining room of the Officers' Mess, in the hangers and NAAFI canteen, as well as on the roadways within the base. Hemswell was put up for sale in the early 1980s and sold in May 1985. The runways were removed for hard core aggregate. The RAF married quarters laid out around Lancaster Green have formed the new parish of Hemswell Cliff, and most of the other buildings have been restored for various new uses, including the conversion of the Officers’ Mess into the hotel Hemswell Court (PRN 58105). {3}

<1> T.N. Hancock, 1978, Bomber County, P 119 (Bibliographic Reference). SLI1060.

<2> Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England, 1992-1996, National Mapping Programme, SK9490:LI.595.8.1-2,1994, (Map). SLI3613.

<3> Historic England (formerly English Heritage), 2011->, The National Heritage List for England, 1435888 (Hemswell Court) (Website). SLI13386.

Monument Types

  • AIRFIELD (Modern - 1918 AD to 1967 AD)
  • MILITARY AIRFIELD (Modern - 1918 AD to 1967 AD)
  • THOR MISSILE SITE (Modern - 1959 AD to 1963 AD)

Sources and further reading

<1>Bibliographic Reference: T.N. Hancock. 1978. Bomber County. P 119.
<2>Map: Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England. 1992-1996. National Mapping Programme. SK9490:LI.595.8.1-2,1994, .
<3>Website: Historic England (formerly English Heritage). 2011->. The National Heritage List for England. http://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/. 1435888 (Hemswell Court).

Related records

58105Related to: Hemswell Court, Lancaster Green, Harpswell (Building)