Preserving King Hill’s connections to its past and retaining awareness of its history is very much part of the philosophy of creating the sense of place and community that underpins the development.
Kings Hill has a rich history. A Royal hunting ground in the Middle Ages, it became a strategic airfield in the twentieth century and night fighters flew from here during the Second World War.
Care has been taken to retain connections with its past through sympathetic restoration and reuse of historic buildings, installation of themed public artworks, community projects, street names and waymaking.
Buildings and structures associated with the airfield
The Control Tower - Art Deco-inspired, Grade II listed, built in 1942 and regarded as one of the best examples of its type. When the building was operational during WWII, it housed the main watch office control room including the meteorological and signals office with access to the glazed observation room on the second floor. The building has been carefully and respectfully refurbished and provides the centre piece for the new piazza, part of Liberty Square the retail centre for Kings Hill.
Officers’ Mess - renamed the Gibson Building after Wing Commander Guy Gibson, now home to Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council. The mess itself is used as the Council Chamber. Built in 1939 and Grade II listed, its brick walls still show traces of the painted camouflage dating from WWII.
Type 24 pillbox - retained within a nature conservation area, off Bancroft Lane, once part of a series of approximately 20 pillboxes around the perimeter of the airfield. The small, squat structure measures about 6 metres by 5.5 metres and was constructed as part of the British anti-invasion preparations.
- Picketts-Hamilton Fort preserved within the Kings Hill landscape, formerly RAF West Malling. It was installed to provide close defence of the runway. The sunken structure consists of two, vertically sunk concrete cylinders, one mounted inside the other. The inner cyclinder remains in the low position, whilst the lifting head cylinder, pierced with three appertures for the main Vickers or Bren gun, was then raised to its firing position by a pneumatic jack, supplemented by a manual pump. One of the three forts installed was removed from site and is now displayed at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford
- Bofors light anti-aircraft gun tower - a rare example of this type of structure, built from concrete and brick. Its purpose was to defend the airfield from attack from low flying enemy aircraft by raising a 40mm Bofors gun and its operational equipment, above the surrounding obstacles, in order to achieve all-round field of fire. The tower is 20 metres tall and also provided storage and accommodation.
- Churchill Square – Built in 1939 and opened in 1940 as the Fighter Command Station, it comprises seven, Grade II listed buildings, which formed the accommodation and administration blocks. Six of the buildings were constructed as H-plan, cavity walled, two storey buildings with flat concrete and asphalt roofs. Number 40 Churchill Square was the institute building which included the refectory and barracks. The flat roof and use of concrete resulted in a design that was quick to build and offered better protection against shrapnel and incendiary bombs.
Click here to see images in the Heritage Gallery