Langley (Parlaunt Park) (Slough)
|Current Status:||Housing / Industry / Leisure activity / Open land|
|Date:||December 1938 - 1955|
|Landing Surface Types:||Unpaved|
|Prominent People:||Paul 'George' Bulman|
N.B. - Langley is situated across the two counties of Buckinghamshire and Slough but primarily geographically resides in Slough.
Langley played an important part in Britain’s aviation history, both during and after the Second World War. Not only did it produce some of the world’s greatest fighter aircraft, it also helped herald in post war trans-Atlantic commercial air travel and the jet age.
From the end of 1938, Langley was Hawker Aircraft Limited’s primary production factory and test airfield for the Hurricane Mk.1, Mk.11A, Mk.11B, Mk.11C, Mk.11D, Mk.IV, Mk.V, Sea Hurricane, Typhoon, Tempest and Fury. The P.1040 prototype performed jet engine trials at Langley, and the factory also helped assemble Hunter wings and fuselages.
The airfield consisted of three hardened grass runways, two main production buildings, a small control tower, office and administration block, various supporting out buildings, four large flight sheds, large concrete apron, football pitch and five repair hangars that were later used as storage facilities for the USAAF and also held the items for auction after the Festival of Great Britain. The airfield had its own Barrage Balloon Squadron and was also used by the RAF 1st Film Unit.
After the war, with aircraft production significantly reduced and before Heathrow was fully operational, Hawkers was able to offer some of their facilities at Langley to non-state funded airlines and aviation businesses. Silver City Airlines, Skyways, British South American Airlines, Airwork and Baynes Aircraft Interiors all used Langley. No 125 Gliding School, Air Training Corps., used the airfield, as did General Aircraft to test their Hamilcar X and a few privateers with their experimental prototypes.
Langley built aircraft starred in two movies, Angels One Five and Battle of Britain and the airfield welcomed the Queen Mother on a few occasions as trophy presenter during the Northern Heights remote control flying competitions.
The airfield effectively ceased all operations in 1958, but it was not the end of its association with the Hawker company. In 1959, Hawker Siddeley Nuclear Power Company took over the four large flight sheds and installed a complete nuclear submarine reactor test facility, it was relocated to Greenwich in 1961.
What little remains is unrecognisable or completely hidden: a playground, horse field and residential open space is all that remains of the runway area, the house that was used as the test pilot’s mess is now a rather nice residential property, a weed covered section of the original repair shed access road now lies in the grounds of a local golf course, as does a one piece steel hanger door upright complete with hanging attachments, and finally, a large moss covered concrete pad and rubble next to a field where the gliding school used to be. Other than that, the only visible hint to Langley’s aviation past is an empty office building called Hurricane House.
Peter Trafford-Smith. (RAeS affiliate)
'Langley Parlaunt Park contained a small internal base of USAF until the mid sixties, the airfield consisted of 5 hangers with quarters and various out buildings and a boiler house, although it had a tower, this had been removed when I was there in the 1960's, there was even a Spitfire in one of the hangars which was retrieved for the Battle of Britian film, a Bentley, an Austin 'Buttercup' and stacks of captured German equipment in one hanger. It was a great site and it has now gone without trace under a golf course!!' (Supplied by: Douglas Richardson via Email)
The following organisations are either based at, use and/or have at least potentially significant connections with the airfield (as at 01/09/2011):
- Heathrow Worldwide Distribution Centre
- Langley Library
- Langley Village.co.uk
- Parlaunt Park Primary Academy
- Richings Park Golf Club
Notable Past Associated Organisations:
- Hawker Aircraft Ltd
Main unit(s) present:
- No 125 GS
- Silver City Airways
Queen Elizabeth II and Princess Margaret visit Northern Heights Model Flying Club at Langley. Courtesy of British Movietone
An OS map of Langley, August 1951. Courtesy of Peter Trafford-Smith