RAF Northolt Sector Operations Building Restoration

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6 Feb

RAF Northolt Sector Operations Building Restoration

The historic Grade II listed Z Sector Operations Building at RAF Northolt, known as Building 27 or The Keith Park Building, has been undergoing restoration for over 10 years by a dedicated team of civilian and military volunteers. The usual funding stream from the biannual Night Photoshoots at RAF Northolt has not been possible since March 2019 due to runway repairs and the Coronavirus. There has not been any government funding for this heritage restoration project and the team has now set up a JustGiving appeal to raise £10,000 to help fund the ongoing restoration. Details are available by clicking the following link https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/building-27-renovation.

Building 27 was constructed in 1929 as a standard operations building for an airfield capable of supporting the operation of three fighter squadrons. With war looking likely in Europe, resulting in the expansion of the Royal Air Force, Fighter Command was formed in July 1936 and Air Marshal Sir Hugh Dowding was appointed its head.

RAF Northolt, a key aerodrome within No.11 Group, commanded by Sir Keith Park, (himself a former Northolt Station commander) was the closest fighter station to Head Quarters Fighter Command at Bentley Priory, Stanmore. Between 1936 and 1939 Dowding decided to run a series of trials and air exercises using Building 27, which resulted in the evolution of the system, the personnel, and the layout of the building. This design became the standard template that was rolled out across Fighter Command. Due to its vulnerability to air attack, Building 27 was closed as an operational asset on 17 June 1940, after which it was used for training Sector Control staff. Post war it was used as offices until 2007 when it was closed and scheduled for demolition. Fortunately it survived long enough for English Heritage to grant it Grade II listed status and its restoration began in 2010.

When complete the renovated and fully working building will run simulations and re-enactments of events from the Battle of Britain for the purposes of training future generations of Aerospace Battlespace Managers. These are the key personnel within the modern RAF Battlespace Management Force and the Air Surveillance and Control System. In addition, the building will be used to facilitate the education of younger generations of Air Training Corps and school children about the heritage and ethos of the Royal Air Force.

Part of the restoration can be viewed in the film made by the Polish Air Force Memorial Committee ‘The Polish Air Force in the Battle of Britain – An 80th Anniversary Tribute’. This film is freely available from a link on the Home page above or YouTube at this link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2lhoytCWsEY.