Hullavington Airfield is in the three Parishes of Stanton St Quintin, Hullavington and Malmesbury Without and acquired its name from the RAF practice of naming their airfields after the newest railway station.
In 1935 the government purchased part of Bell Farm from Mr F J Huntley who was based in Corston. The MoD started building the airfield in 1936 as part of the RAF Expansion Scheme with buildings designed by modern architects and made to fit into their surroundings using local materials. Nonetheless, some of the original farm buildings still survive within the confines.
RAF Hullavington started operation in July 1937 when No 9 Flying Training School arrived with their Hawker Harts. In the following year, Hullavington expanded both as an Aircraft Storage Unit and with the arrival of No 9 Maintenance Unit which, by the end of the war, had over 1,000 aircraft on their books positioned over various airfields.
With the outbreak of war in September 1939, the training school brought officers from allied nations together and, at that time, they used Avro Anson Trainers which were flown each morning to RAF Babdown Farm to do their training.
Halfway through the war, a new unit, the Empire Central Flying School, was formed and a large and diverse collection of aircraft could have been seen there – from trainers (eg the Percival Proctor and Miles Master), to fighters (eg the Spitfire and Hurricane), multi-role aircraft (eg the Typhoons and Mosquitos) and heavy bombers (eg the Wellingtons and Lancasters).
After the war, the airfield became home to a large variety of RAF roles both flying and non-flying. Most notably, it was home to No 2 Flying Training School which, in 1955, made use of the first jet trainer to enter service – the Jet Provost. Other roles included several volunteer gliding schools, No 114 Squadron, The Balloon Operations Squadron, The Parachute Support Unit, No 1 Air Navigation School, The Air Electronics School, No 16 Parachute Heavy Drop Company, No 4626 Medical Evacuation Squadron and The Defence Codification Data Centre.
With the airfield, came service personnel and in 1941 it was necessary for the village to acquire a police station! By 1951 the population of the village had risen to 1,184 of whom 1,061 were male. But there were also families, and around this time, village housing was built with 43 houses at Valetta Gardens and 20 houses at Newbourne Gardens.
Today, as we know, the original barracks is now the home of 9 Theatre Logistic Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps and was renamed as Buckley Barracks in 2003 after the VC winner John Buckley. The airfield has now been acquired by Dyson and it is being developed as a design/research facility.
… Martin Horton