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Former Dining Room and Institute at Former RAF Kenley

A Grade II Listed Building in Caterham-on-the-Hill, Surrey

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Latitude: 51.3003 / 51°18'1"N

Longitude: -0.0909 / 0°5'27"W

OS Eastings: 533187

OS Northings: 157416

OS Grid: TQ331574

Mapcode National: GBR H1.ZQM

Mapcode Global: VHGRZ.CLS1

Plus Code: 9C3X8W25+4J

Entry Name: Former Dining Room and Institute at Former RAF Kenley

Listing Date: 10 January 2001

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1334946

English Heritage Legacy ID: 486851

Location: Caterham-on-the-Hill, Tandridge, Surrey, CR3

County: Surrey

Civil Parish: Caterham-on-the-Hill

Built-Up Area: Croydon

Traditional County: Surrey

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Surrey

Church of England Parish: Whyteleafe St Luke

Church of England Diocese: Southwark

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303/2/10044 Kenley Aerodrome
10-JAN-01 (North side)
Former Dining Room and Institute at
former RAF Kenley


Institute and dining room. 1932 design by the Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings. Stretrcher bond brick to cavity walls, concrete floors, slate roof on steel trusses.
PLAN: a long narrow principal range in 2 storeys, with short returned wings to the front, facing the former parade ground, and containing the dining rooms for 591 airmen (ground floor) and corporals (first floor), with reading rooms and games areas. Entrance at each end of wings containing large staircase wells. To the rear, mainly on one floor, but with a 2-storey staff accommodation building, are the kitchens, boiler room and general services.
EXTERIOR: glazing-bar sashes (boarded) to brick voussiors and stone sub-sills. The parade ground front is symmetrical, with a recessed 5-bay centre having 12-pane above 16-pane sashes. The short wing returns have a 12-pane sash above a pair of flush doors to a plain overlight, in stone pilaster surround with cornice. The outer ends of these wings have a closed pediment with small ventilation slit, above a full-height Portland stone panel containing a 16-pane sash above an oculus with square grid, all with moulded surrounds, and to a sill on brackets above plain apron panel; these wings also have a small plinth in stone. The return ends are identical, with a closed-pediment gable above 8/12/8-pane sashes above central doors falnked by small 8-pane sahses, the ground-floor openings with moulded stone architraves and cornice. The nforward projecting wings have a 12-pane sash at first floor, and 4 small lights to the ground floor. The rear wall of this main block has a closed pediment gable near the left-hand end, with a single 12-pane, then eight 12-pane sashes at first floor, above the various service buildings. Eaves are to a flat soffit and moulded cornice or gutter, and the gabled ends have 'rusticated' quoins forced by recessing 1 in every 5 courses. Hipped roofs to all units of rear service range, which comprise 5-bay 2-storey block with central entry to service yard and flanking lower wings.
INTERIOR: dog-leg stairs with steel balusters, otherwise no internal detail of note.
HISTORY: The careful proportions of this building reflect the impact of Air Ministry consultation with the Royal Fine Arts Commission. In contrast to the Battle of Britain sector stations at Biggin Hill and Northolt, Kenley has lost most of its buildings but boasts the most complete fighter airfield associated with the Battle of Britain to have survived. A large part of Kenley Common, managed by the Corporation of London, was converted for use as an aerodrome for the Royal Flying Corps in 1917 and enlarged through an Act of Parliament in 1939. The 800-yard runways and perimeter tracks completed in December 1939 (extended by a further 200 yards in 1943) and all 12 of the fighter pens under completion in April 1940 have survived: this is a uniquely important survival, and one that relates to a military action of world historical importance. At the end of March 1939 the Air Ministry had agreed to Sir Hugh Dowding?s proposals for all-weather runways and perimeter tracks for critical fighter bases prone to waterlogging, mostly those in 11 Group in the south east of England. In the following month it was agreed that fighter stations should have dispersals for 3 squadrons of 12 aircraft each, subsequent to which fighter pens with blast-shelter walls and internal air-raid shelters were erected on key fighter airfields: the designs, in which Dowding had taken a close interest since trials in August 1938, had already been established by Fighter Command Works.

Despite the demolition of the perimeter pillboxes in 1984, the survival, character and importance of Kenleys' flying field as a uniquely well-preserved Battle of Britain site is thrown into sharper relief when it is realised that it was subject, on the 18th of August, to one of the most determined attacks by the Luftwaffe on a sector airfield, photographs of which - including an attack on a fighter pen - were afterwards printed in Der Adler magazine. During this raid, three personnel were killed and 3 hangars and several aircraft destroyed. 39 personnel were killed and 26 wounded on the 30th of August, raids on the following day damaging the operations block. Its scars can still be read in the form of post-war repair work to the officers? mess, prominently sited on the west side of the aerodrome, and which now stands as the most impressive surviving building dating from the rebuilding of the station between 1931 and 1933. The last surviving hangar and the control tower were destroyed by fire in 1978, and the sector operations block was demolished in 1984.

(Operations Record Book, PRO AIR 28/419, includes series of block plans showing completion of new airfield layout in late 1939; Peter Corbell, Kenley, in W.G. Ramsey (ed), The Battle of Britain Then and Now, (5th edition, London, 1989); Peter Flint, RAF Kenley. The Story of the Royal Airforce Station, 1917-74 (Lavenham, 1985); Alfred Price, Battle of Britain: The Hardest Day (London, 1979))

Listing NGR: TQ3318757416

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