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History comes alive at the Control Tower

History comes alive at the Control Tower

Some 300 people visited Kings Hill’s historic Art Deco Control Tower over the weekend where there was an exhibition of original photos of RAF West Malling, including one of General Montgomery’s visit in 1944.

The Control Tower was open as part of the national Heritage Open Days programme, organised locally by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, which celebrate England's architecture and culture by offering free access to properties that are usually closed to the public or which charge for admission.

Also visiting was Tonbridge, Edenbridge and Malling MP Tom Tugendhat who was shown around the Control Tower by Caroline Binns of Kings Hill developer Liberty Property Trust. He also viewed the exhibition of images loaned by local historian Peter Hall who wrote ‘By Day and By Night’ and talked to aviation historian and writer Robin Brooks, author of ‘From Moths to Merlins’.

“I am very pleased to have seen the Control Tower at such close quarters and in such good repair”, he said. “Monuments such as this one are so important as they keep our heritage alive and remind all of the sacrifices made for our freedoms. It’s a great exhibition and I urge everyone to visit and see the photographs on display at next year’s Heritage Open Day, reminding us all of a vital period in the history of our community.”

Andrew Blevins, Liberty’s managing director, said: “The Control Tower is such an iconic building and an important landmark at Kings Hill and we were delighted to welcome visitors to experience their heritage.

“People were encouraged to climb to the top of the tower using the original handrail and to take in the views from its balcony and from the first floor through the carefully restored Crittall windows.”

Following feedback from last year’s event, the aerial view of Kings Hill had been overlaid with a map of the runway, allowing residents to find their homes in relation to the original infrastructure – something which was very much enjoyed by visitors over the weekend.    

The next exhibition in the Cultural Centre in the Control Tower will feature works by some of the top artists in the South East, including a sculpture of a fox made from recycled car parts by Ptolomey Elrington and a dazzling Jewel painting of a pink diamond by Paula MacArthur, a winner of the John Played Portrait Award, now the BP Portrait Award. The exhibition runs from the end of September to the middle of January 2016.

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