- RAF Uxbridge
Infobox Military Unit
unit_name = Royal Air Force Uxbridge
caption = Station Crest
dates = 1917 –
Royal Flying Corps, Royal Air Force
Uxbridge, London, England
Royal Air Force Ensign
Battle of Britain,
Evacuation of Dunkirk,
Preparation for D-Day,
identification_symbol_label = Station crest
RAF Uxbridge is a
Royal Air Forcestation in Uxbridgein the London Borough of Hillingdon. It is best known as the headquarters of No. 11 Group RAFduring the Battle of Britain. 11 Group was responsible for the defence of Londonand the South-East of England, and therefore was the main area of combat. The group headquarters were specifically at Hillingdon House within the base grounds. An underground operations room was built nearby to handle the control of the fighter squadrons. Uxbridge was the RAF base where Thomas Edward Lawrence ( Lawrence of Arabia) served.
The country estate which eventually became RAF Uxbridge was called Hillingdon House, built in 1717 by the Duke of Schomberg [1636 survey of Colham manor Uxbridge library] , a general serving under William of Orange (later King William III) and subsequently
Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, who was knighted for his part in the Battle of the Boynein 1690. The Grade II listed [ [http://www.defence-estates.mod.uk/index.php Defence Estates] ] mansion was completely rebuilt after it was destroyed by fire in 1844 [Newspaper cutting Uxbridge library] and stands on the site of a previous house, also occupied by the Duke and reputed to have been built in 1617. London and Middlesex, Edward Wedlake Brayley, Published in 1816]
The Marchioness of Rockingham, widow of Prime Minister
Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, purchased the house from the Chetwynd family in 1786 for £9,000 [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/searches/subjectView.asp?ID=F6718 National Archives] ] following her husband’s death and lived there until her own death in 1804. She left the estate to her stepsister Elizabeth [ [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=42140&strquery=William%20Weddell British History Online] ] , widow of William Weddell MP who, having been left Newby Halland a house in Mayfair by her late husband, had no need of the house and sold it to Josias Du Pré Porcher in 1805.
In 1810 the estate was sold to Richard Henry Cox of the Cox banking family and grandson of Richard Cox, founder of the travel company
Cox & Kings. London and Middlesex, Edward Wedlake Brayley, Published in 1816] Cox & Co, as the company was then known, was formed after Richard Cox was appointed agent to the Foot Guards (later the Grenadier Guards) By the end of the 18th century, the company was acting as agent and providing banking services for regiments throughout the British Army. [ [http://www.coxandkings.co.uk/aboutus-history.aspx History of Cox & Kings] ]
The London and Middlesex historical and commercial survey of 1816 says of the house, it is “placed on a gentle ascent and forms a conspicuous and pleasing object from the high road. The grounds are of considerable extent, and are rendered attractive by soft undulations of surface. A rivulet (River Pinn) passes through the more level part of the premises, and has been artificially expanded, at some cost and with much correctness of taste." London and Middlesex, Edward Wedlake Brayley, Published in 1816]
In 1914 the mansion and lands were marketed for sale [http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/nra/searches/subjectView.asp?ID=F6718 National Archives] ] by the estate of Frederick Cox, Richard Henry Cox's grandson [Cox Family History] and was described as “a brick and stone building, partly stuccoed, with extensive outbuildings and ornamental gardens.” [M.R.O., Acc 503/107] The house and gardens, together with the surrounding parkland and artificial lake, created by damming the River Pinn, comprised over 200 acres.
The estate was purchased by the British Government in 1915 and it became the Canadian Convalescent Hospital, for troops evacuated from the front line. Opened on 20 September 1915 and closing on 12 December 1917, the hospital saw four commanding officers and five Sisters-in-Charge. [Official History Of The Canadian Forces In The Great War, 1914-19, Sir Andrew Macphail, 1925]
Royal Air Force
In 1917 the Royal Flying Corps Armament and Gunnery School was established, which existed until 1919. In 1920 it became the newly formed Royal Air Force’s Central Depot, known as RAF Central Depot, Uxbridge. During the inter-war years, RAF Uxbridge saw use by various signals and training units and in 1936 it became the head quarters of 11 Group, Fighter Command, with the responsibility for the air defence of southern England, including London.
On the 1 March 1929 Headquarters of the Observer Corps was established at Hillingdon House with Air Commodore Edward A D Masterman CB CMG CBE AFC RAF (Rtd) appointed as the first Commandant of the Corps. The Observer Corps remained at RAF Uxbridge until 1 March 1936 when it was transferred to
RAF Bentley Priory.
In 2008 the Royal Observer Corps' links with RAF Uxbridge have been renewed with the close of RAF Bentley Priory and the removal to Uxbridge of the ROC memorabilia from the Priory officers' mess for safekeeping and display. The Royal Observer Corps was stood down in December 1995.
World War II
Information about air threats would come to Fighter Command headquarters at
RAF Bentley Priory, which would filter reports to remove duplication, doubt and confusion. The threats would then be allocated to the Group operations rooms for defensive operations to be taken. In the case of No 11 Group this was at RAF Uxbridge.
The WW2 operations room was closed up in 1958 in its original state, and restored in the 1970s. Very little restoration work was required for it to be returned to its 1940s condition. Visits to the operations room and a sizeable museum are possible by contacting the Curator at the Battle of Britain Operations Room, RAF Uxbridge. Visits seem to be fairly regular and have to be arranged in advance as the facility is inside an operational military base. Outside the operations room the
Royal Air Force Ensignis flown. This ensign can also be seen flying at the Station Headquarters along with the command flag that represents the rank of the station commander.
RAF Uxbridge Today
Today RAF Uxbridge is part of
No. 22 Group. Units stationed at Uxbridge include the Headquarters Music Servicesand also the Queen's Colour Squadronof the RAF Regiment.
[http://www.1083squadron.co.uk 1083 Squadron] Air cadets are based here at RAF Uxbridge where on Mondays and Thursdays cadets of the
Air Training Corpsmeet for a parade night. [http://www.atcsquadron.co.uk/middlesexwing/ Middlesex Wing HQ] are also based on the RAF base and Wing Commander Davison is currently the Wing Commander.
Hillingdon House is able to be hired as a film location [ [http://www.films.mod.uk/details.asp?Location_name=Uxbridge%20-%20Hillingdon%20House MOD Film Locations] ] and has been the location for productions such as Red Caps, Prime Suspect and The Bill. Having been in state ownership for 90 years, it retains many of its Victorian features.Hillingdon House now currently houses the Army Prosecution Authority, Royal Air Force Prosecution Authority and the Navy Prosecution Authority. These three organisations will merge to form the Services Prosecution Authority on the 1st January 2009.
River Pinnruns through RAF Uxbridge and the wooded land within it, past the operations room. RAF Uxbridge is situated partly on green belt land and next to a golf course.
As part of
Project MoDEL, RAF Uxbridge is due to close with most units currently stationed there moving to RAF Northolt
List of RAF stations
Battle of Britain Airfields
* A History of the County of Middlesex: Volume 4, 1971, pp. 55-69
* [http://www.british-history.ac.uk/Default.aspx British History Online]
* [http://www.a2a.org.uk/html/074-acc503.htm R.H.Cox records]
* [http://www.rafuxbridgestation.co.uk/ RAF Uxbridge Station Website]
* [http://www.subbrit.org.uk/rsg/sites/u/uxbridge/ Account of a visit to the restored ops room, with photographs]
* [http://www.rafweb.org/index.htm Air of Authority - An Organisational History of the RAF]
* [http://www.coxandkings.co.uk/home.aspx Cox & Kings]
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