WONZ 295 – Wings Over Britain: Hornchurch

Guest: Tony Philpot

Host: Dave Homewood

Recorded: 18th of July 2023

Published: 19th of January 2024

Duration: 50 minutes, 8 seconds

In this episode Dave Homewood visits the RAF Hornchurch Heritage Centre, on the site of the former RAF Station Hornchurch, and he talks with the museum’s curator Tony Philpot.

RAF Hornchurch is synonymous with the Battle of Britain, as one of the most famous and important fighter bases that existed in the defence of London. It was here that some of the Royal Air Force’s best pilots were based, and this included New Zealanders such as Alan Deere and Colin Gray in 1940. Another Kiwi connection is with No. 485 (New Zealand) Squadron, whose Spitfires were based at Hornchurch for two different stints in 1943 and 1944.

Hornchurch was also the site of a New Zealand Army hospital and convalescence centre in the First World War. And there are other Kiwi connections with the hallowed area too.

Steeped with RAF history, the station no longer exists, but on the 19th of September 2021 the new RAF Hornchurch Heritage Centre was officially opened by Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon GCB CBE.

The centre is packed with really interesting artefacts, displays and memories of RAF Hornchurch’s amazing history. Close to Romford, Essex, just east of London, the centre is well worth a visit. The volunteer staff on the day that Dave visited, Tony, Paul and Jim, were fantastic fun too with lots of great banter, but also a true dedication to preserving and sharing the history of their now paved over and built on aerodrome. Highly recommended.

Quick Links:.
RAF Hornchurch Heritage Centre
RAF Hornchurch Heritage Centre on Facebook
Hornchurch Aerodrome Historical Trust on Facebook

Above: RAF Hornchurch Heritage Centre volunteers Paul (left) and Jim (centre) and Tony Phillpot. Great fun hosts, and very knowledgeable museum guides!

The music in this episode is I Vow To Thee, My Country by Gustav Holst.

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