Friday, 7 November 2014

Hawkinge and H. E. Bates

I cycled through Hawkinge yesterday. This Kentish village used to be dominated by a World War 2 fighter aerodrome which by the time that I bought a house nearby in 1975 had ceased operation and was earmarked for housing.
Hawkinge aerodrome in 1933

When the field was ploughed up I recall seeing the distinct remains of the chalk circle which had been laid out to identify the field from the air. It is now covered by houses and I wonder if any of the gardeners ever ponder why they have a line of chalk running through their flower bed.

Cat & Custard Pot Public House
When living there I read the Kentish novels of H.E.Bates -- an occupation whose enjoyment was augmented by the realisation that I was living in the 'field of operations', as it were. 

He even mentioned a pub which the airmen used to frequent, called The Cat and Custard Pot. It was our 'local'.

The pub is still there and now fully recognises its heritage by declaring on its sign that it is 'An original Battle of Britain pub'. When I knew it, the pub  was jocularly known as 'The Temporary Sign' because the original sign had been taken down to be repainted and was not replaced for ages.

Although most of the airfield is now under bricks and tarmac, there are many interesting indications of its existence still remaining.
The cleared area alongside this lane is one of the dispersal points outside the perimeter road where individual fighters were parked and camouflaged to protect them from an attack on the airfield.

And this rather sinister looking mound with the vents is the former underground fuel store. You can see the new housing estate behind it. 

I hope the store has been properly emptied.....

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