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Description: 3 Former World War I Aircraft Hangars at Old Sarum Airfield
Date Listed: 15 August 1989
English Heritage Building ID: 319557
OS Grid Reference: SU1518533464
OS Grid Coordinates: 415185, 133464
Latitude/Longitude: 51.1003, -1.7845
15-AUG-89 (South side)
3 FORMER WORLD WAR I AIRCRAFT HANGARS
AT OLD SARUM AIRFIELD
Group of one single and two paired aircraft storage hangars. 1917 design, built 1918. Piers, curtain walls and gantries brickwork, rendered externally, 'Belfast' roof trusses, asphalt covering to roof.
PLAN: each hangar is in 16 bays, Hangars 1 and 3 being paired with a central row of brick columns, and each has subsidiary workshop and storage space in low annexes on the long sides. Single-span hangar was built for the Aircraft Repair Section, with a detached workshop (qv) to the rear. The whole group extends approx. 250m E-W, with a large concrete manoeuvring area (aprons) around the entrances and the airfield side.
EXTERIOR: windows are the original painted steel casements, set as a high clerestory to the long sides of the hangars in 14 of the 16 bays; they are doubled 24-pane units incorporating 4-pane pivoted lights to each bay. The infill walling above and below is in brick (half-brick thickness), but on the S (airfield) side of each hangar broad asbestos sheet cladding has been added. Each of the hangars has full width and height doors sliding to external brick gantries: each of these comprises 6 doors suspended to overhead gear protected by a deep projecting weathering, and sliding to ground rails into their external brick gantries, the latter having three pairs of piers linked at the head by segmental brick diaphragm arches. The paired hangars also have, between the doors, a brick pier with deep central recess carrying a large rain-water downpipe. Above the horizontal dressing to the door track is a flat segmental pediment to each shed, with close-set vertical joint divisions to metal cladding, and a wide central ventilation louvre. Flanking the long sides are the single-storey ancillary spaces with near-flat felted roofs waethered to the curtain walls and buttresses. These are in brick, with 9-pane casements, the upper 6 panes horizontally pivot-hung. Sheds 1 and 3 each have a 14-bay range to the S, with 2 entrances in the wall to N. Shed 2 has to the S a 7-bay range a boiler room, with flue cropped at the eaves, and 2 separated single-bay units: on the N side two gabled sheds have been added, parallel with the main wall. All roofs have a continuous gabled ridge lantern in patent glazing: this is probably original, and appears in a photograph taken in 1931.
INTERIOR: The paired sheds have a central row of brick piers, joined longitudinally by a series of 'diaphragm' walls to low segmental arches. The 'Belfast' trusses are formed from small-section timbers, the top and bottom chords sandwiching a mesh of closely-spaced cross-bracing; at the supports is further shear strengthening with a length of diagonal boarded bracing, and a raking strut rises from brick corbelling near the heads of the piers, which continue through to the eaves levels. There are continuous runs of longitudinal cross-bracing in the vertical plane, and extra horizontal bracing to the bottom chord in the end bays. Trusses carry small purlins and closely-spaced rafters, with continuous sheathing in diagonal boarding.
HISTORY: After Duxford in Cambridgeshire and Leuchars in Scotland, Old Sarum retains the most complete group of technical buildings representative of a Training Depot Station of the First World War period. It also, uniquely for any of the key surviving sites of the period up to 1918, retains its grass flying field with none of the perimeter tracks and other interventions characteristic of the post-1938 period. Its position close to Salisbury Plain also gives it an association with three key sites in the development of military aviation - Larkhill, Upavon and Netheravon. It was one of 63 Training Depot Stations in existence in November 1918. Each TDS comprised three flying units, each having a coupled general service shed and one repair hangar (Old Sarum?s being the only example to have survived). Other specialist buildings, such as carpenters? shops, dope and engine repair shops and technical and plane stores characterised these sites. The former technical support buildings lie between the hangars and The Portway: domestic buildings (not included) were located to the north of the road.
In 1917 the War Office bought land at Ford Farm for airfield development, but shortly after the base was renamed Old Sarum (after the hillfort and medieval royal castle and Cathedral to the W), and by September 1918 a series of 7 hangars (one single repair hangar and 3 paired hangars), motor transport sheds and various workshops had been built; personnel at that time were accommodated in tents. Used at first as a Training Depot Station for day bombing, Old Sarum?s position close to the army training areas on Salisbury Plain ensured its retention after 1919 for the School of Army Co-Operation. This ran courses primarily for Army and RAF observors and pilots, and by the end of 1930s Blenheims were flown from the base: foreign visitors included the German Air Attache and in 1939 both the Italian Air Attache and Chief Instructor of the Italian School of Army Co-Operation. The principal work of the base for the first four years of the Second World War was the formation and training of Air Observation Units, although it was also used by the SOE for airdrops into France and early in the war by the Royal Canadian Air Force Unit (110 Squadron) for anti-invasion coast patrols. In February 1944 the hangars were converted into use for housing vehicles being specially prepared for D-Day. After 1947 Old Sarum had become the School of Land/Air Warfare, attended mostly by high-ranking officers of all three services. It was closed as a military base in 1979, much of the immediate area having been since redeveloped as an industrial estate although club flying continues from the airfield. The most westerly of the 3 paired hangars was destroyed by fire in 1986.
(Dr H F Thomas, The History of Old Sarum Airfield, undated; Wessex Archaeology, Portway House (Archaeological Desk-Based Study), 1996)
Listing NGR: SU1516733503
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.