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Kenley Airfield needs £1 million to preserve blast pens

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THE Friends of Kenley Airfield are working hard to preserve the blast pens.

By teaming up with the City of London Corporation, which is responsible for the upkeep of the relics, and English Heritage, the group hopes to secure a grant for up to £1 million from Heritage Lottery Fund.

Chris Baguley, chairman of the friends' group, said: "The blast pens were built in 1939. The idea was that aircraft sat in them and if a bomb landed nearby, the impact and debris shot upwards over them so they were not damaged.

"In 2003, English Heritage categorised them as 'ancient monuments', which meant the owner was obliged to pay for their upkeep.

"However, it is hugely expensive to do so and we as a group are very keen to see them restored to their former glory, so we decided to work together with the City of London Corporation to secure the funding."

Mr Baguley said the money, if won, would rebuild the structures as they were in 1939 and attract the public with an educational programme to come and take an interest in them.

"It's not just about conservation; we could do bits of vocational training and working with students too," he said. "It all requires a lot of money."

A City of London Corporation report said: "The World War Two features are quickly deteriorating due to their age and the poor quality of materials used in their construction and are on the Heritage At-risk register.

"Those who remember Kenley during the war and could contribute to a living archive of memories are also becoming fewer.

"The historic landscape of Kenley Airfield and its associated features are of national significance. By conserving them, the project would be providing a service to London and the nation."

Mr Baguley said he was "quietly hopeful" that the application would be successful.

"We submitted a preliminary application which has been accepted and have had a visit from someone at the Heritage Lottery Fund," he said.

"With corporate backing from the City of London we are much more likely to get funding for the structures."

The partnership is due to submit its stage one application early this summer and, if successful, it will be put round to stage two later in the year.

"It's very important we perpetuate the memory of Kenley's and our national heritage," said Mr Baguley.

The partnership will also have to raise £50,000 to go towards securing the £1 million grant.

Kenley Airfield needs £1 million to preserve blast pens


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