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St George’s Royal Air Force Chapel of Remembrance

Sadly there is currently no great expose’ to give you concerning the Chapel. However, here is a resume’ of what has been the most traumatic year in the life of the Chapel since its creation in 1951. Nothing particularly new, it draws together all the events of the past twelve months.  If having read the resume’ you feel compelled to sign the petition then here is the link to do so.

A Word and PDF version can be found at the bottom of the page.

The Local Government Ombudsman’s investigation into the Planning procedures continues into what is proving to be a complex case.

The Chapel and Garden of Remembrance were open for Battle of Britain Day Sunday the 16th September, totally due to the sterling efforts of Margaret Wilmot and Joyce Pomfret, and was well attended.

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The BHMM Trust had advertised it as a ‘Family Activity Day’, another example of their total lack of empathy for what is a War Memorial being opened for remembrance and reflection on this most significant day in the history of the Royal Air Force, and particularly Biggin Hill. Their attempts to have ‘Activities’ inside the Chapel were I am glad to report politely repulsed.

Resume of events since the of Presentation of the Petition, Protect Biggin Hill St George’s Royal Air Force Chapel of Remembrance

Resume of events since the of Presentation of the Petition, Protect Biggin Hill St George’s Royal Air Force Chapel of Remembrance, then standing at 17,000, to three Secretaries of State, the Prime Minister, and the London Borough of Bromley, on Battle of Britain Day 15th Sept 2017. The current number of signatories now stands at 25,360+. Sept 2018.

During the Autumn of 2017, demolition of the Vestry, part of the Listed Building housing the Aircrew Association stained glass window. No attempt had been made by the LBB or its BHMM Trust to contact the ACA at the planning stage to advise of this intention, it was left for members of the public to inform the Association. The Leader of the Council, Cllr Stephen Carr had resigned on Battle of Britain Day 15th Sept 2017, subsequently the new leader, Cllr Colin Smith, received a huge number of representations to halt the demolition and review the situation, but he refused. Even the Local Government Ombudsman investigating the planning procedures asked on our behalf whether LBB could hold back until he had concluded his review of what was a Council granting itself a most controversial unpopular approval, on a split vote requiring the Chair’s casting vote.


Taking over of the St George’s Room (the rear part of the Chapel) and its artefacts to be part of the so-called Museum. To view the Groundcrew and the Battle of Britain stained glass windows, other than at a great distance through a glass partition, will in future require payment of the Museum admission charge (circa £7.50). These windows and the collection in the St George’s Room were all achieved through public donation.

During April 2018, all the trees around the Memorial Chapel, planted in the early years by the then Chapel Community, most of whom are probably now deceased, which created an air of tranquillity and gave the Chapel maturity, were cut down. Although this was part of the planning approval, when it happened there was disbelief that it was actually carried out, particularly during Springtime when flowering trees were in bloom and in the bird nesting season. These trees and shrubs, including two rare Irish Yews, have appeared in photos, paintings and even Christmas cards for the past 50 years and this is how the Chapel will always be remembered, not as it now appears – stark and industrial. Some objectors have even remarked that the ‘new look’ of the Chapel, now treeless with the flat-roofed windowless Museum encompassing it, reminds them of a building they had seen on visits to a Nazi Concentration Camp on the Austro-German border.

Currently, building of the ugly inadequate Museum replacing the large Vestry, which had been generally considered to be the most attractive part of the Chapel. With the ACA window above its arched doorway, it was the backdrop to many Wedding photos. Now described even by official bodies such as Historic England as just a ‘Visitors Centre’ it is being built with wholly inappropriate imported off-white, mass produced machine-made ‘Euro’ bricks (hand-made bricks were promised) manufactured by the huge Austro-German company Wienerberger AG. If an investigation of this company had been undertaken first it would have quickly revealed that it was involved in Jewish Forced Labour during the 1930s and 1940s and was consequently targeted by both Bomber Command and the American Airforce. Only since this has been revealed, have the Council and its Trust had the audacity to try and claim that the choice of bricks was a deliberate act of reconciliation. The overwhelming public opinion is that they are inappropriate for this most sensitive site and it was this view that motivated the head of Buckinghamshire Brickmaker H G Matthews to offer his bespoke handmade bricks to the project free of charge. This would only have delayed the project by a week as just a few of the bricks had been laid and H G Matthews would have even purchased the Wienerberger bricks from the BHMM Trust. His remarkable offer was rejected and the inferior brick, which will inevitably discolour, has continued to be used. This fact must have now dawned on the BHMM Trust because the small ‘test walls’ that had been built behind the Chapel, to see how the laid Wienerberger bricks would appear against the red Surrey bricks of the Chapel, have now been painted white! (See attached photo). Winston Churchill, an amateur bricklayer himself and who instigated the building of the Chapel, surely would not have countenanced the use of such imported bricks when British bricks were available, even if they weren’t free! He would also have appreciated the quality of the now demolished Vestry’s detailed brickwork, in contrast to the plain stark walls of the Museum. Jim Matthews also pointed out to the Council that had a Museum project at Biggin Hill been publicised within the UK construction materials industry, most likely all the materials would have been obtained free of charge – such is the affection for the RAF.

Finally, it seems that despite claiming to have achieved funding of £5.3 million, there is not even enough money to complete the project! It was noticed that half of the rear part of the new build was not being started, this being the ‘Learning Centre’ described by the Council’s own consultants as ‘critical to the scheme’. This is probably why the Head of the Charles Darwin School, Sunil Chotal, has stepped down from being a member of the BHMM Trust. The truth is contained in a Bromley Council report going back to July 2017 which can be downloaded from the internet. (LBB Report No DRR17/032, 5thJuly 2017). The front page fraudulently states ‘the project is now complete and all funding is secure’, but the truth is hidden in the final pages which few would read, where it states the underfunding to be £600k and claiming that the Learning Centre is now a ‘phase two’ of the project – to be constructed presumably when the Museum is accepting visitors!? To ‘bulldoze’ this highly controversial scheme through, involving demolition of part of this most sensitive Listed Building against the public’s will, whilst in reality not having the funding to complete the project and also before the Local Government Ombudsman has reported on the Planning application procedures, has to be viewed as extremely dubious.
Cambridge Professor of the History of Architecture, Gavin Stamp, born in Bromley, wrote three articles on what he saw as an ill-considered, inadequate, ugly project. The last one, written shortly before his untimely death on 30th Dec 2017, ended with: ‘A Battle of Britain Memorial Museum ought to be above party and faction; and should be popular, uncontroversial and irenic *’ (* meaning – conciliatory, non-confrontational, peaceful).

September 2018. David Evans and Rita Radford (



Biggin Hill Memorial Museum Open Letter

The Biggin Hill Memorial Museum Trust have just published an open letter which is available as a link below to view.  The responses to the letter can also be found below.

Several people have told us of the BHMM ‘Open letter’, and have asked us for clarification of some points, one being a lady from Downe. Please see below our reply to her, which if necessary would be part of an official response if the papers decide to print the BHMM letter.
Kind regards
Dave and Rita

“Hi ‘Lady in Downe’,

At no time did we state that the bricks were made in Germany or Austria, please see below. Wienerberger have now bought up and established so many plants in Europe it is obvious that the bricks will have come from somewhere on the western side, could well be the Netherlands. What we do know is that they arrive in the UK at Purfleet and Hull docks. Our argument has always been why not British bricks at a memorial to the Royal Air Force who
defeated the Luftwaffe. Rather than that the Council chose an imported mass-produced machine-made ‘Euro-brick’ manufactured by this huge Austro-German company. If they were a genuine hand-made brick (as promised) made by an independent manufacturer in the  Netherlands that would be another matter and difficult to argue against.

The BHMM Trust can’t say they haven’t destroyed trees planted in memory of deceased RAF servicemen. Plantings occurred from 1951 by members the RAF community who are now
most likely dead themselves! The person who ordered the cutting down of the flowering cherry (in bloom) which had to be over sixty years old, has to be described as heartless and  those who acted out the order mindless, at the least. These trees and shrubs have appeared in  photographs for the past fifty years! If someone arrived in Downe Village and suggested the 13th century St Mary’s Church, incidentally in common with the RAF Chapel grade two listed
and in a conservation area, should be returned to how it was in 1500 by removal of later additions and trees, he would most certainly be classified as a lunatic!  The Council and its BHMM Trust’s lack of empathy and knowledge of the history of the Chapel has been evident since they first took charge of the building, the first example was their refusal to support the campaign to retain perhaps the most important item in the Chapel, the 92 Squadron Standard. Once it had been secured on the word of Air Marshal Sir Baz North, no less, the Chairman  of the BHMM Trust Bruce Walker then had the audacity to issue a press release claiming credit!
Whenever the BHMM Trust is ‘found out’ they make nonsense statements as is happening now. I am sure they ‘can fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time’.

The BHMM Trust won’t be happy to be informed that we have received hundreds of emails from the RAF community, the word often used to describe what has been inflicted on the Chapel is desecration. Some have described scattering their relatives’ ashes quietly and unannounced under the Spitfire and Hurricane or the Battle of Britain window at the end of the St George’s room between the Irish Yews. One message that brought tears to our eyes described the sender’s enduring memory of his father, who had been a Medical Officer at the time of the Battle of Britain, was him standing in front of the Reredos sobbing inconsolably reading the names of his dead comrades – these people have been sorely let down by the Council and their BHMM Trust. They are rightly being criticized, this is not their place to vandalise!

As for the removal of plaques this is more nonsense, the first we have heard of this!

The planning application was never for two phases! Only when it became apparent that they would not have funding to complete the project it suddenly became two phases.  Please see page 1 of report No DRR17/032 and also then page 7 and 8 which tell the truth.
Page 1 fraudulently states: ‘The development of the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum project is now complete and all funding is secure’ (please see attachments).

Hopefully this reassures you who are the good guys.

Dave and Rita”

open letter from The Biggin Hill Memorial Museum Trust



The Chapel and its Bricks

Dear Friends,

At the planning stage there was considerable play made that these would be ‘special hand-made’ bricks and presumably at a Memorial to fallen RAF airmen, they would be of UK manufacture. But no, they are an imported machine-made brick, nothing special, manufactured by the Austro-German company Weinerburger AG.

The company’s product name for the brick being used is ‘Marziale’ and it is claimed to be buff coloured, but appears when laid to be almost white, and having a textured finish will inevitably become green with algae! It doesn’t even appear to be the mixed colour of bricks I understood the few members of the public who bothered to attend the ‘brick selection day’ in August 2017 chose and which featured in the architect’s subsequent visualisations!

The Weinerberger company was started in Austria in the 1800s and was nearly bombed out of existence by the American Airforce and RAF Bomber Command during the final years of the 2nd World War. They re-established themselves after the war and in the 1980s created facilities in Germany and since then have spread throughout Europe, buying up other manufacturers on the way, and now claim to be the largest brick manufacturer in the world. Quoting from the company’s own history: ‘In 2001 there was a group wide restructuring with the focus on Germany’.

This thoughtless choice of bricks is seen particularly by the generation who experienced the war as disrespectful. Do we not have UK manufacturers who should be supported and supplying the bricks at this most sensitive of sites? It is further evidence, as if it were needed, of Bromley Council, its BHMM Trust and their Architect’s total lack of empathy with the St George’s RAF Chapel of Remembrance and its heritage. The impression was created that these bricks were supposedly hand crafted by an independent manufacturer, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

Please keep telling your friends of our campaign, by forwarding the link below. We still need signatures.

Thank you all! Rita email:


Dear Friends,

The London Borough of Bromley and its BHMM Trust first demolished the Vestry, part of the Grade Two listed Chapel, at a cost of £25k, then started to build the horrible ‘Visitors Centre’ with wholly inappropiate bricks, and now have cut down all the trees and shrubs that had created such an atmosphere of tranquilty at the Chapel over the years since the war.


The Learning Centre, a large part of the rear of the building, and stipulated by the Council’s own consultants as ‘critical’ to the project, is now on hold and a public appeal has been made for £250K, although in Council and BHMM documentation, the underfunding is £600K to £650K! However the project was ‘bulldozed’ ahead, despite the Council knowing as early as July last year that their funding application to the Clore Duffield Foundation, who finance educational projects, had been unsuccessful (source: LBB Report No: DRR17/032). Unless in the next few months a huge amount of money suddenly magically appears, the rear of the building will not be completed for the planned opening in the Autumn. This is all happening despite the Council claiming to have already achieved funding of £5.3m, so with the costs already accrued within the Council, the cost of this ‘divisive’ inadequate scheme must be in excess of a whopping £6m!

Surely for a Council to start a project of this nature, knowing full funding was not in hand, could be considered extremely dubious?

I am doing everything I can to publicise these facts, so if you think of


Dear All,

Two subjects to update you: trees and the bricks being used to build the ‘Visitor Centre’ (for that is all it is!).

Firstly trees, on the 7th April 2018 all the trees and shrubs were cut down from the front of the Chapel, many planted in remembrance of RAF personnel, including the yews and the flowering cherry (in bloom) that have appeared in photos for over 50 years. The area has been totally cleared and I urge you to click on the link below to the petition site, where the photo is now the Chapel as it appears today and the text describes the trees removed. Please also forward this link or this complete newsletter to all your acquaintances, asking them to sign the petition registering their disgust at this further atrocity. One can only wonder what damage will next be inflicted on the Chapel by the London Borough of Bromley.

In our last newsletter we told you of the bricks being used to build the so called museum, they are called ‘Marziale’ made by the huge Austro-German company Wienerberger AG and imported from the continent. They are not a special hand made brick as promised by the Council, but an ‘off the shelf’ machine-made brick that can be sourced from any builders merchant. When our newsletter filtered down to the head of a British brick manufacturer in Buckingshire he contacted the Council, its BHMM Trust and the Patron Randolph Churchill and offered his bespoke hand made wood-fired bricks for FREE, such is his regard for the RAF and Biggin Hill. His offer was REFUSED!!  Not only that, he told them that had they contacted the building materials trade organisations in this country, they could have been given all the materials for free!  Not only is it obvious that the London Borough of Bromley is totally lacking in empathy for the Chapel, but they have also demonstrated gross ineptitude! 

Thanking you all, 

Rita Radford.         email: 



Rita Radford





Biggin Hill Memorial Museum to be built with German Companies Bricks!

Comment from Rita Radford

As evidence of my statements please view attachments: Page from on-line brick catalogue and Council Planning Approval document. Photos of when the bricks were delivered at the Chapel in January.

Dear All,
Photos are appearing of the first facing bricks being laid at the Biggin Hill Memorial Museum building. At the planning stage there was considerable play made that these would be ‘special hand-made’ bricks and presumably at a Memorial to fallen RAF airmen, they would be of UK manufacture. But no, they are an imported machine-made brick, nothing special, manufactured by the Austro-German company Weinerburger AG.
The company’s product name for the brick being used is ‘Marziale’ and it is claimed to be buff, but appears when laid to be almost white and having a textured finish they will inevitably become green with mildew! It doesn’t even appear to be the mixed colour of bricks I understood the few members of the public who bothered to attend the ‘brick selection day’ in August 2017 chose and which featured in the architect’s subsequent visualisations!

The Weinerberger company was started in Austria in the 1800s and was nearly totally bombed out of existence by the American Airforce and RAF Bomber Command during the final years of the 2nd World War. They re-established themselves after the war and in the 1980s created facilities in Germany and since then have spread throughout Europe, buying up other manufacturers on the way, and now claim to be the largest brick manufacturer in the world. Quoting from the company’s own history: ‘In 2001 there was a group wide restructuring with the focus on Germany’.

This thoughtless choice of bricks is seen particularly by the generation who experienced the war as disrespectful. It is further evidence, as if it were needed, of Bromley Council, its BHMM Trust and their Architect’s total lack of empathy with the St George’s RAF Chapel of Remembrance and its heritage. The impression was created that these bricks were supposedly hand crafted by an independent manufacturer, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

When it was pointed out on the BHMM Facebook page, by a member of the Church, that the bricks are not hand-made, his posting was immediately removed. Is critical comment ‘verboten’?

Kind regards,
David Evans. Luxted Road, Downe.

The petition still requires signatures, please click here:   

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Having researched Weinerberger as much as we can. They are a classic example of a company based in Austria and Germany expanding throughout Europe and into the UK, buying up everything in their wake.

The particular bricks being used for the Museum are imported from the continent and arrive at Purfleet Essex and Hull. You will notice I don’t state they are ‘made in Austria or Germany’ because Weinerberger now own so many facilities throughout Europe it is very difficult for the public to ascertain exactly where a particular item is manufactured. I thought it was only fair to point this out, the Council are now claiming they are actually made in Belgium, which is possible.

Comment from “Webmaster”

OMG. German bricks! Do Bromley Council have no morels or conscience. Do we not make bricks in the U.K any more? Do we not consider U.K. Jobs any more?

Comment from Rita Radford

You are right in pointing out that we still have brick manufacturers in the UK and they should have been supported, especially on such a project at this most sensitive of sites. We have been told, although at the moment I have not seen it in writing, that the bricks for the Chapel in 1951 came from a manufacturer in Surrey. The Chapel was built at the instigation of Winston Churchill, can you imagine him countenancing the use of foreign bricks when British bricks are available? Ironically Winston Churchill’s Great-grandson, Randolph Churchill, is the Patron of the BHMM Trust!

Kindest regards,
David and Rita

Biggin Hill Airport to Terminate the Leases of the Resident Flying Schools

You may be interested to know that Biggin Hill Airport has informed the Council that they are actively looking to reduce the overall volume of light aviation at the Airport. They anticipate that light aviation movements will decline from approximately 35,000 movements annually to around 12,000. In order to achieve this reduction, I understand that the Airport have now served notices to terminate the leases of the resident flying schools, with informal discussions going on for some time now, with the Airport already having the agreement of nearby light aviation aerodromes, Redhill, Surrey and Damyns Hall Farm, Essex, to accept these businesses should they choose to relocate.

The Airport also said that this was a difficult decision for them to take given the longstanding nature of some of the training schools, but that they are no longer able to mix a high volume of light aviation with growing business aviation whilst maintaining high levels of customer service and all importantly, flight safety.

For the avoidance of doubt but for clarity, the Lease and the controls within it, including the Noise Action Plan, remain in place and are not affected by the Airport’s decision.

Residents living under existing light aircraft flight tracks, particularly in and around Keston, should notice the reduced volume of aircraft fairly quickly as the changes come into effect over the next 6 months or so with related training flights stopping.

In terms of overall movement numbers, the Airport envisage that in this time period aircraft movements will decline from around 50,000 movements per annum to somewhere around 30,000 movements per annum.

Biggin Hill RAF Chapel – BHMM

Dear Friends,

Some of you may recognise the name of Gavin Stamp, Cambridge Professor of Historic Architecture, from his TV appearances and articles. In the autumn of last year he wrote three articles in Private Eye (editions 1450/52/54) under his pseudonym of ‘Piloti’ that enormously raised the profile of our RAF Chapel campaign, resulting in many signatories. The second one ended: ‘this is a bad divisive scheme (BHMM) and it would be a scandal if it goes ahead’.

It was with shock and great sadness that I learned that Gavin died on 30th December 2017 at the age of 69 from prostate cancer. I did not know of his illness and had yet to ask him how he first became aware of our campaign or to thank him enough for his involvement. Gavin dedicated his life to the fight against architectural vandalism and I urge you to read his detailed obituary in the current edition of Private Eye. There are of course numerous others on the internet.

His other great passion was the architectural work of Sir Giles Gilbert Scott who was resposible for many things amongst which was the red phonebox!

Gavin was born in Bromley and regularly attended the RAF Battle of Britain airshows as a school boy back in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He visited the Chapel and related to me how his uncle’s funeral was held in the Chapel, he had been a rear gunner in Wellington Bombers.

The picture on the petition webpage is now the Architect’s visualization of how Bromley Council and their BHMM Trust want to see the Chapel looking in the future, it was this image that Gavin so disliked and prompted him to write his articles. He was adamant that we continued to oppose the BHMM plans, in his last email to me at the end of October he enquired what we were going to do next. Please click here and continue spreading the word:

It is perhaps an opportune moment to revert to my professional role as a doctor and remind all gentlemen of a certain age to get your PSA checked, and so catch this awful condition early while still treatable.

Rita Radford FRCS. email:

“Hello Paul,
Thank you very much for your support.
Please see below our reply to Randolph Churchill, he never replied!
Hopefully the letter below will also help you with your website update.
Kindest regards
Dave and Rita ”

Dear Randolph Churchill,

I am forwarding to you a copy of the letter we have been compelled to distribute to refute the inaccurate information contained in your letter of 3rd October.
I fear you have been ‘misled’ by the BHMM Trust over many issues, and the true facts are set out below.

I have also attached an interesting note from your illustrious great grandfather, dated 1954, to his Minister of Works, regarding wanton felling of trees in some parks. Unfortunately his strong sentiments are not held by Bromley Council or their BHMM Trust.

Yours very sincerely,

Rita C Radford MB. BS. FRCS (Eng)

Dear RAF Chapel Interested Parties,

In an open letter primarily directed towards the RAF community, Randolph Churchill, great grandson of Winston Churchill and Patron of the BHMM Trust, has accused Rita Radford and myself, David Evans, instigators of the 38 Degrees Petition to Protect the Biggin Hill Memorial Chapel, of deceiving signatories into believing that the entire Chapel is being demolished by the London Borough of Bromley.

The BHMM scheme has many contentious aspects, the demolition of the Vestry, the unacceptable design of the Museum building to replace the Vestry, the closure of the Chapel for over a year, and the loss of the St George’s Room to become part of the Museum, to mention just four. Rather than admit that this is, as stated by Cambridge Professor of Architecture Gavin Stamp, ‘a bad divisive scheme’, the BHMM Trust have influenced Randolph Churchill to make this undignified claim, without providing the reader with any proof. The Petition is rightly named ‘Protect’ the Biggin Hill Chapel – against the plans of the London Borough of Bromley who now own the Chapel and are hell-bent on ‘bulldozing’ their scheme through, against the wishes of currently 21,000 plus signatories.

When Randolph Churchill’s letter was first brought to our attention on October 3rd, by editors of the Local Press, it coincided with the petition going up by 500 signatures in little more than 24 hours! When asked by the editors to comment about the accusation, I directed them to their own previous articles on the project, which either featured the Trust’s own Architect visualisations, clearly showing the main part of the Chapel unaffected, or my photographs of the Vestry to be demolished. After this there was either no local press coverage or only token articles.

When the petition was first started, I contacted every RAF/Veteran/ Historic Aircraft and Airfield related organisation and all possibly interested individuals I could find, providing them with pictures and information. Some of the earliest signatories included those keeping the name and the aimsof the Air Crew Association alive, such as Air Commodore Jack Broughton OBE, and former Biggin Hill Commanding Officer Air Commodore Graham Pitchfork MBE, and they are in no doubt as to the exact details of the Council’s plans. Nor is Air Vice Marshall Sir Baz North, who was instrumental in the Chapel retaining its 92 Squadron Standard some 18 months ago, and is now heading the Royal Air Force Association. I sent him a comprehensive package by post, containing information with pictures and subsequently we received a very personal hand written reply. I am sure if Randolph Churchill’s letter had made its way to these distinguished gentlemen and all the others whom I similarly contacted, it would I suspect have been viewed very sceptically! I have also replied to hundreds of emails coming in via the petition, requesting information and photos, and all signatories have received regular emails, updating them on how the situation has sadly progressed. Nowhere have we said or suggested that the entire Chapel is to be demolished, to suggest we have been anything less than transparent is not only nonsense, but bordering on libellous.

Robert Hardman’s article in the Daily Mail on Battle of Britain Day 15th September was very balanced, as were the two items on BBC TV News, which may still be viewed by going to the Downe Village website: When you arrive scroll down.

Every possible opportunity has been taken to show people the BHMM design, as it always ensures more signatories! For example at the recent Biggin Hill Airshow we had large A2 photographs of the Vestry to be demolished and A2 architect visualisations of both the BHMM scheme and the Biggin Hill Battle of Britain Supporters Club museum design. As soon as the attendees viewed the pictures, they took our leaflet and the result was we estimate around 7000 more signatures. I have attached to this email the pictures we used and the leaflet, which I hope you will agree is unambiguous.

In contrast, the BHMM Trust have never had the courage of their convictions and made the top picture of their website their vision of how the Chapel should look in the future. They have always, from day one, two years ago, hidden their intentions behind a photo of how the Chapel looks today, or should I say how it looked until two weeks ago, before the Vestry was demolished and all of the trees and shrubs were removed on the left hand side of the Chapel. Their planning permission allows for the removal of 26 trees and shrubs, regardless of whether they had been planted in memory of a loved one many years ago. This defoliation of the site, along with the stark design of the Museum building, has resulted in some people making the extreme claim that it will look like a Concentration Camp!

The Planning Permission was only granted on a split decision and it is generally agreed it should have been deferred. We and many others were unhappy with the Council’s planning procedures and quickly applied to the Local Government Ombudsman, requesting he reviewed the case. Eventually we were allocated an Inspector who requested a huge amount of information from the Council by the end of Sept 2017. The Council left it to the very last moment to comply with this and then immediately started to demolish the Vestry! Speaking to many involved with Local Government affairs this has been seen at the very least as incredibly disrespectful to the Inspector. One of the points of contention has been the Council’s unwillingness to acknowledge the status of the Vestry. If you google: Memorial Chapel List Entry No 1391588 you will read in the description of the building a section which starts: ‘the large Chapel to the North’ – this is referring to the Vestry. The Memorial Chapel was comprised of three parts, of which the Vestry was the second largest and externally was the most decorative. Demolition of any part of the Listed Building, regardless of the age of that part, constitutes part demolition of the Listed building. Now the Vestry has been demolished presumably the Chapel will have to be relisted because the building description is incorrect ?
For the life of me I cannot see how anyone can say that by demolishing the Vestry, which was built to blend seamlessly with the rest of the Chapel, and then replace it with a characterless, stark, flat-roofed block of a building, returns the Chapel to how Winston Churchill would have recognised it in 1951. One thing is for sure that as an amateur bricklayer he would have appreciated the craftsmanship of the Vestry, I very much doubt he would appreciate the design of the BHMM building!

This inappropriate, unpopular scheme is being financed by the public via the Heritage Lottery Fund to the tune of nearly £2 million pounds. During a long phone conversation with the Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund, Stuart Hobley, I pressed him to confirm or deny whether he described the BHMM scheme as ‘exemplary’ and he would not say, but directed me towards his Press Statement which I have found on the internet and it does not use that word. However the word ‘exemplary’ occurs in the Planning Application documents written by the Council in its application to itself, and is regularly heaped on the design by the Council and its Trust since then. I would say this is a case of ‘self praise’ which I was always told was no recommendation. Rita and I have made a Freedom of Information Act request for all the documentation relating to this grant in an attempt to ascertain why the Funds Committee were in favour of this plan which is so disliked by the public, who contributed the funds! A month later we have still received nothing!

Randolph Churchill also claims that the Church Community supports the plans, no sir, they do not! The Archdeacon Paul Wright does as a member of the Trust, but I say he pretty much speaks for himself. If Randolph Churchill and Paul Wright had been at the Battle of Britain Service at the Chapel on the 17th Sept (the last service for over a year) they would have witnessed the distress these plans have caused, with members of the Choir leaving the Chapel with tears running down their faces, vowing never to sing in the Chapel again. I can only remember Paul Wright ministering at the Chapel once and I have never witnessed Randolph Churchill actually being there, although I am prepared to be corrected in both cases. However, what I will say for certain is that for a Trust member Paul Wright’s knowledge of the Chapel has been minimal, so much so that I have taken upon myself on three occasions to deliver information to him directly at his Archdeaconry in Chislehurst. Rita spoke on the phone to Randolph Churchill nine months ago and emails were exchanged, and he was equally in the dark and kept saying to her (rather than answering her points) that she needed to talk the Trust’s Vice Chairman who would have all the information.
With no services for over a year and the loss of the facilities provided by both the Vestry (demolished) and the St George’s Room (designation changed to become part of the Museum) the fear is that the congregation will drift away and worship will eventually cease. This has always been the concern of Chapel stalwart, former Air Crew Selection Centre Commanding Officer, Air Commodore John ‘Tinkle’ Bell OBE. His opposition to the plans has always been centred around the need to keep the Chapel a ‘Living Church’.

As for the ‘Friends’ of the Chapel, this has a membership of around 100, many of whom are elderly and do not have computers or internet connections. Some are overseas and I would say that some even now are not fully aware as to what is occurring. When the Planning Application was first submitted, as a member I wrote to the Chairman requesting an early ‘special’ AGM and a vote on the plan, as this was the biggest issue concerning the Chapel since its inception. He refused and at the regular AGM after the St George’s Day Service on the 23rd April 2017, he started the meeting by saying he was not having any discussions on the matter and that he, and I suppose a Committee, had made the decision to support the plans and that was that. Despite his assertion that there would be no discussion, he had invited two Trust members to defend the scheme from the ‘Friends’ members, but neither of them had any response to the elderly gentleman of whom we tell in the petition statement, and who left all three absolutely speechless, the Chairman then resorted to immediately closing the meeting.
We know many members have signed the Petition because they have told us so, or we have seen their names on the Petition list. More proof that this is a bad divisive plan and as a consequence of all this both Rita and I have been barred from the ‘Friends’ by the Chairman.
Much play has been made by the Trust concerning the need to close the Chapel for essential repairs, but viewing the Trust’s own business plan shows that there really is only minimal work to be done and certainly nothing requiring closure for over a year, for example the ‘hoo-ha’ over the asbestos that there is in the Chapel. I asked the Curator of the Chapel for the past twenty years about this and it turns out to be the relatively ‘safe’ concrete asbestos sheet material that is on the underside of the radiator shelves. I could have replaced the shelves myself free of charge and if I could not have done the job in a couple of days I would have considered myself a failure!

Finally, Randolph Churchill makes the statement that the Chapel will remain free to enter (no – not all of it !) as if this were some kind of concession and also claims that Veterans support the scheme. I think I will leave the closing words to a most erudite Veteran, who in a personal letter to Randolph Churchill, pleads for a Museum design that is supported by the public and – ‘which truly reflects the noble history of RAF Biggin Hill’ – and tells him the truth, that this BHMM Museum scheme has little grass roots support and is – ‘vacuous and ill-conceived’.

Yours faithfully,

David R Evans and Rita C Radford

PS. A rather apposite quote from Charles Prince of Wales:
“You have to give this much to the Luftwaffe, when it knocked down our buildings it did not replace them with anything more offensive than rubble. We did that.”

Chain are playing at the Biggin Hill Sports and Social Club from 8.30pm on 6th January 2018.

Classic Rock Band, Chain, are playing at the Biggin Hill Sports and Social Club from 8.30pm on 6th January 2018.

It’s generally for members but for a small entrance fee, anyone can come in – please contact Jo on 079622 19698 for more info’

Chain are a four (sometimes five) piece rock covers band. We cover songs from Clapton, Fleetwood Mac, Hendrix, the Stones KT Tunstall and many more.

Previous Artist of the Week on Lemonrock. Our Webmaster has now seen them three times and would highly recommend going along to see them.