The Control Tower

From this...

From this...

This morning Brian showed us around Kingshill. It’s the site of the former RAF West Malling airfield which, like many Kent airfields, has an illustrious, if little known, history. You can read about RAF West Malling here. The airfield kept going until the late 1980s before succumbing to the inevitable fate of ‘redevelopment’. Kings Hill now reputedly boasts the highest average income and the highest proportion of households earning more than £ 100,000 in the UK. As we drove through the curiously unrooted housing estates (traditional flint facing one moment, clapperboard the next, modernistic one door, trad the next…) I was filled with a great wave of nostalgia for what had gone before for, doing the research for my poem, I had learnt all about Kingshill/RAF West Malling. I slipped one or two of the cultural references into my poem. Amy Johnson, among others, was a star guest to airshows in the 1930s. The Beatles filmed the Walrus sequence of Magical Mystery Tour on the runways. But there were others. Wing Commander Guy Gibson (of ‘Dambusters’ fame) served here (he considered it to be the ‘most pleasant’ of airbases), and Group Captain Peter Townsend (of Princess Margaret fame) was in command here. The latter’s office is preserved as part of the local council’s headquarters. Nothing somes up better the passage from an illustrious and romantic past to a more mundane and materialistic present than the fate of the Control Tower of the former airbase, as I hope my two images show. The Control Tower is a listed building and Brian is convinced that one day it will be restored. Let that day be soon…. By the way, there is footage on You Tube from one of the last airshows at West Malling:;;;; this. this.


  1. Brian

    Spoke with a local councilor, She said she was recently inside the control tower which is made up of several small rooms, making it difficult to convert as it is listed. A local restaurant (the Swan) did put a proposal to convert to bistro but it was rejected as houses have been built to close. When will planers start to look at the bigger picture and not just density. I will let you know if this is ever resolved.

  2. Martin

    What a shame! I think it should become a museum. And the remaining land around it should be preserved and grassed over.

  3. Maryse

    I agree that it should be a museum in honour and memory of all those who fought to preserve our freedom!

  4. andrew woodin

    i agree it should be a museum and have a gate guard of a spitfire out side it is sad to leave it as it is

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2023 Martin Westlake

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑