Hawker plane factory at Langley Airfield in 1945

The Hawker Aircraft Company bought Parlaunt Farm at Langley in 1938 and built a major factory and airfield there. Well over 8,000 military aircraft were manufactured at the site especially the Hurricane during World War II and also the Tempest and Sea Fury. The final Hurricane built (a MkIIC serialled PZ865, which still flies today with the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight) was completed here on 15 September 1944 and named ‘Last of The Many’ in a special ceremony. Retiring Chief Test Pilot P W S ‘George’ Bulman flew the aeroplane on this occasion – having made the first flight of the prototype from Brooklands almost nine years earlier.

The Hawker Tornado (1940), Typhoon (1940), Tempest (1942), Fury (1944), Sea Fury (1945), and the General Aircraft Hamilcar X tank-carrying glider (1945) all made their first flights from Langley. Postwar, the aerodrome was also used by Airwork Ltd and British South American Airways for aircraft maintenance work.

The Hawker factory closed in 1958 having also manufactured Hawker Hunter fighters and earlier jet prototypes. Production and staff were transferred to the flight test airfield at Dunsfold Aerodrome and the parent Hawker factory in Kingston-on-Thames (now Kingston upon Thames), both in Surrey. Little of the factory or airfield remain today although the area’s aviation past is remembered in street-names such as Spitfire Close and Hurricane Way.

The Ford Motor Company opened a commercial vehicle component factory at Langley Airfield in 1949, and then bought the entire site from Hawker Siddeley in 1959. The former aircraft factory was re-used for commercial vehicle manufacture and the Ford Transit was built here until production was transferred to Swaythling, Southampton, and later the Ford Cargo. The Langley factory became part of Iveco in 1986 but finally closed in September 1997. Demolished a year later by Gregory Demolition, the site is now redeveloped with new housing, offices and warehousing (including Royal Mail’s International Mail Centre, which services nearby Heathrow Airport.


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