Hornchurch Aerodrome Historical Trust gifted RAF heritage centre site
- Credit: Andrew Ruff
The Hornchurch Aerodrome Historical Trust has been gifted Suttons House to use as its RAF heritage centre.
A gift from Bellway Thames Gateway, the trust (HAHT) uses this premises to house many varied displays.
Trust chairman Tony Philpot said: “Being given this chance by Bellway Homes has been a dream come true for us all.
"Our aim is now not only to remember the aerodrome but those who served there, this also includes the civilians who worked there and lived near the site."
This centre aims to help preserve the rich history of both the WWI Royal Flying Corps Sutton’s Farm and the WWII Royal Air Force Hornchurch Sector Station.
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All of the rooms are themed to a different aspect the aerodrome’s history, as well as a Bomber Command room and a Home Front Room.
Originally part of the former Suttons Institution - opened in September 1938 - Suttons House was a year later requisitioned by the RAF which used it between 1939–1946.
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After the RAF departed the whole site was renamed, becoming the St George’s Hospital which opened in 1948.
Ted Exall was the man first behind the idea of educating the public about RAF Hornchurch.
This passion began when he first worked as a caretaker at the R. J. Mitchell school, and continued until his untimely death in 2004.
Ted worked tirelessly to ensure knowledge of this aerodrome was not lost, alongside permanently preserving the memories of those who had served.
Sadly, his dream to have a museum where the story of the aerodrome could be told never materialised in his lifetime.
But Ted's legacy still lives on, and in that vein, the HAHT is set to have a dedicated room for education needs in his honour.
Of the Ted Exall Education suite, Tony said: "Having a dedicated education suite will allow us to host school visits ensuring that the history of the aerodrome is brought to all future generations."