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Listed Building
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Ordnance survey map of BUILDINGS 10, 20, 30, 50, 60 AND 70 FORMER BARRACKS
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Tonbridge and Malling (District Authority)
Kings Hill
National Grid Reference:
TQ 67129 55309, TQ 67151 55365, TQ 67173 55422, TQ 67265 55256, TQ 67287 55312, TQ 67309 55369



1156/0/10011 CHURCHILL SQUARE 16-APR-04 Kings Hill (former RAF West Malling) Buildings 10, 20, 30, 50, 60 & 70 (former barracks)

GV II Group of six airmen's barracks blocks laid out around a square, now in commercial use. 1939, to 1938 design by J. H. Binge of Air Ministry's Directorate of Works and Buildings (drawing number 1132 and 11587/38). Reinforced concrete floors and roof on stretcher bond cavity walls, roof finish not visible, originally asphalt.

PLAN: Each block comprises a 2-storey compact H-plan housing 4 NCOs and 64 airmen. Central entrance to each wing leading to central open-well staircase and internal corridors with rooms each side: further staircases at junctions with cross wing which also has service facilities including a utility room.

EXTERIOR: Steel 10-pane vertical casements to wings, some horizontal units to cross wing set to continuous thin concrete lintel and sill bands. Outer fronts of wings in 2:5:2-bays, with deep 2-light windows, and to the centre 5 bays to continuous sill and lintel bands, the upper band continued around the whole, and below a brick 'frieze' and square-edged roof overhang. Central pair of panelled doors (except replacement doors to Building 60), in rendered concrete cheeks to and with flat canopy. On the front away from the parade ground is a similar doorway, but to brick jambs. The short ends of these blocks are plain, and the inner faces are in 3 bays, with casements as to the front, each side of the central link. The centre range is in 7 bays, with 2 and 3-light casements to continuous sills and lintels, on one side, but with a deep stair light, and a ground-floor door to the second and sixth bays on the other. Small vents are built into the brickwork all round at mid and eaves levels.

INTERIOR: Original joinery including panelled doors. The principal internal space is the central entrance lobby and hall, the latter having solid string concrete staircases with terrazzo finish, hardwood swept handrail on steel Art Deco balustrades.

HISTORY: These are the best-preserved Art Deco influenced barracks in the country, planned in a collegiate manner with the Institute placed at their head. They are also significant, as outlined below, for their associations with this historically important base.

From 1938 new buildings and stations, including Middle Wallop and West Malling, made increasing use of concrete and flat roofs in order to respectively speed up the building process and counter the effects of shrapnel and incendiary bombs. The planning of these barracks provided a direct response to the demand for increased standards of accommodation on military airfields, including the provision of sitting rooms. These are all designs by the Air Ministry architect J.H. Binge, the marked horizontality of the elevations and Art Deco detail presenting a consciously modern style. The flat-roofed buildings around Churchill Square, planned in a collegiate manner with the Institute (Building 40) placed at their head, are the best-preserved group of their type in the country, enhanced by the historical importance of this fighter base.

From 1930 the Maidstone School of Flying used the area as a private landing ground, which was registered as Maidstone airport in 1932. A satellite of Biggin Hill within Fighter Command's strategically critical 11 Group, West Malling was opened as a fighter station in June 1940, although a series of raids in August and September 1940 rendered the airfield unserviceable for much of the Battle of Britain. It reopened in October of that year, although the station was able to accept a full station only in April 1941. It became a nightfighter station at this time, its Bristol Beaufighter pilots including Guy Gibson and Don Parker - both becoming famous names in Bomber Command, the former for his leadership of 617 Squadron in the Dams Raid and other precision attacks. It was later used by Mosquitos and Typhoons in operations against occupied Europe, including the support of 'D' Day, and became the principal station during 'Operation Diver' in 1944, the name given to the defence of the east and south-eastern coasts against the V1 bomb. It is significant, in this context, that there are no other fighter stations associated with 'Operation Diver' that have survived in a sufficiently complete state of preservation to merit listing: the other key sites in the London area - Northolt, Biggin Hill and Kenley - were placed behind the balloon barrage erected for the operation. With the end of the war, West Malling became the main rehabilitation centre for POWs returning from Germany to Britain. The base was put into 'care and maintenance' in August 1960, and was acquired in 1970 by Kent County Council: in 1972 it became a centre for dispossessed Ugandan Asians, and eventually some of the major buildings were adapted for Local Authority use (notably the Officers' Mess and Building 60), whilst others were retained and incorporated as part of a larger commercial park.

(Paul Francis, British Military Airfield Architecture (Sparkford, 1996); RAF Museum, Hendon, drawings collection; RJ Brooks, The 50th Anniversary of RAF West Malling, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, 1989; Bruce Barrymore Halpenny, Action Stations 8: Military Airfields of Greater London (Cambridge, 1984), pp.213-7) TQ6721955339


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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

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