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Kenley Airfield Revival Project

Kenley Revival Project Update By Alan Morgan (from Summer 2018 Newsletter)

Somewhat incredibly we are now two-thirds of the way towards completing the KRP and virtually all the major restoration/renovation work to the blast pens and rifle range has been completed. The only major planned work that remains is the removal of graffiti from the rifle range and because the wall is in such good original condition we are going to be very careful how we proceed. Historic England has been in discussions with several specialist companies about this and we anticipate a final decision on how best to proceed very soon.

Unfortunately, as many of you will have noticed, we have encountered a major issue with the mortar used during last year’s restoration works to the blast pens and rifle range. The mortar is crumbling badly and falling away from the new joints.

Now I am by no means an expert on restoring historic structures and have to rely on those who were involved in planning and executing the works for guidance on how to rectify this potentially serious situation. This might have been caused by the severe winter weather and if it has it could be seen as a blessing because the work is under warranty until September and a milder winter might have disguised the problem beyond this crucial date.

It’s something of a mystery at the moment as the mortar mix and brick specifications came jointly from both Historic England and the City of London Heritage Buildings department and the work was carried out by a Heritage Lottery Fund/Historic England approved contractor. Given this level of expertise it’s very surprising that we have this upsetting situation but they are together currently investigating and tell me they expect to have a solution soon. In the meantime please keep away from the damaged areas and observe any safety messaging you may see onsite.

Moving on, this year the focus shifts from restoration to education and plans have recently been submitted to Croydon Council for planning approval for our new heritage trail information signs and boards. These will be much more informative and attractive than the existing ones and will cover not just the history of the airfield but also the recent conservation works. I’m sure even people who know Kenley well will discover some new and interesting facts and they’ll also enable new visitors to self-guide themselves around the airfield. Depending on how swiftly everything progresses we hope to start installing these by this autumn.

The next volunteer–led adventure is another of our very popular Community Archaeology events from July 16th-18th and 23rd-25th. We will be returning to the area we investigated last year to get an even better picture of how it would have functioned during World War II and we’re hoping to excavate the arm of the blast pen in order to find out how it was constructed.

Volunteers will get the chance to excavate features, make reconstruction drawings of the remaining footings and help us in revealing hidden archaeology. There will also be workshops to learn more about artefact handling and during the whole event we will have professional archaeologists onsite who will share their knowledge with you. If you would like to take part please sign up to either Group 1 (Monday 16th July) or Group 2 (Monday 23rd July). If you’d like to be involved details on how to register can be found at www.kenleyrevival.org where you can also be able to sign-up to the regular monthly project newsletters.

In closing I’d just like to mention two other important date for your diaries:
Wednesday July 18th is the KAFG AGM at the Portcullis Club starting at 7.30pm. All KAFG members and those who are interested in joining us are invited to attend and there will be complimentary drinks before the meeting starts at 8.00.
Sunday August 19th is our annual Hardest Day flypast from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight.