We were recently lent a unique copy of a visitors’ book from the County Members when it was providing accommodation in years gone by. This was the subject of a talk given by John Simpson at our recent meeting of the “Lympne Airfield History Society”
The entries start in 1933 and finish in 1981. Most people staying at the pub were there concerning visiting the Airfield, and some interesting names are present. In the 1930’s it was the overnight stay for a number of attempted record breaking flyers including Jean Batten on two occasions, Bill Lancaster and H. L. Brook. Bill Lancaster’s story was recently presented on the BBC’S One Show, but Lympne was not mentioned. We see that he stayed at the pub with his mother and father the night before his tragic last flight. Off course and too far north of his flight plan, Bill Lancaster crash landed in the Algerian Sahara Desert, surviving eight days before dying of lack of water. His body, eight day diary and aeroplane wreckage were eventually discovered by chance in 1962 by the French Army twenty nine years after he set out from Lympne.
Other visitors included the first man to fly the V/TOL Harrier, Chief Test Pilot for Hawker Siddeley Bill Bedford who was flying the famous Hurricane ‘Last of the Many’ on to Paris, G/CPT Robert Leckie an Aide de Camp to George V1, Lord Boothby the famous Conservative politician and Alex Black leader of the Eagle Sport Parachute School who sadly lost his life in a plane crash with five others in 1980. These just a sample of other interesting names to stay at the County Members.
We were joined by Tony Shorter from Ashford who had been an electrician for Skyways in the days when Lympne was known as Ashford Airport. Members discussed the Friends of Lympne Airfield Association website which recently went live and is continually being added to. David Plumstead also gave us an update on the High Court action being taken by Phides Estates next February, and the current progress on completing the Neighbourhood Plan.
The evening was thoroughly enjoyed by those in attendance in the splendid surroundings of Lympne Castle’s East Bar. Thanks very much to Rod Aspinall and his wife for looking after us so well. The next meeting will be at the same venue on Thursday January 15th, and then every two months after that in our regular Lympne Castle home.
For more information about the Lympne Airfield History Society, contact John Simpson on 01303 265078 or email firstname.lastname@example.org