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Bolt Head - Satellite Airfield

The following information has been taken from the excellent memorial plaque provided by Malborough Parish Council and the National Trust at the site of Bolt Head Airfield. The Airfield does still exist - in parts - with the current single runway built through farmland and on a different alignment to the wartime strips. If you are a pilot with a plane, you can still fly into the airstrip by prior arrangement with a local farm! It is well worth a visit [by car!] if you are in the area and several walks can be undertaken in the vicinity. The plaque is in the car park at the end of the B?? that leads to Bolt Head.

Incidentally, there is a website that has the post-war history of the radar station on it. Use the link below if you want to have a look at it. It has a number of photos taken inside the building.


(Thanks to Chris & Johanna Werb-Pieterman for this information)

The wording on the plaque in the car park reads:

"You are standing at the intersection of the two runways of RAF Bolt Head. After the harvest of 1940 the land here was taken over, hedges removed, and runways laid. RAF Bolt Head was operational from 1941 until 1945. RAF Hope Cove, the Ground Control Interceptor Station, (GCI) was established in 1941 to direct fighter operations in this sector of the English Channel."

"RAF Bolt Head was built as a satellite station to Exeter. It had to Sommerfeld track runways 2700ft long, which were later extended to 3600ft and 4200ft. These consisted of coconut matting laid on the fields with metal grids on top. The station was originally used for fighters of 10 and 11 group to escort bombers. The clifftop site allowed fighters the maximum range for these sorties into France. Later, in the build up to D Day, Spitfires and Typhoons by day and Mosquitoes and Beaufighters by night, used the station for raids across the Channel. It was alos a base for Air Sea Rescue using Lysanders, Spitfires and Walruses. At first the personnel were under canvas but as the war progressed facilities improved with huts and hangars being built"

Tor Woods

I was very pleased to find the plaque and the information on it, as I would have had no idea what I was looking at. Typing "Bolt Head" into Google brought up nothing on the history of this important little airfield, so I hope this webpage rectifies this somewhat.

A Photo of the memorial plaque at Bolt Head.

A close-up of the map detail, showing how the runways were aligned. The current airstrip (more or less) runs alongside the runway off to the right. The signal station (bottom right) also still appears to be standing, although it was not visited during my trip as the rain was horizontal!

The Signal Station photgraphed from the car park. The view looks straight down the former runway.

Unknown feature.
I have no idea what this is, but it stands off to the left of the signal station on (probably) the other side of the former runway. Jan 2007 update.....This appears to be a gatepost of some description! Having been up close it is breeze-block and cement with gate hinges on one side. so?????!!!!

Practically the only standing buildings left on the site. They have that wartime, concrete look to them, but may be newer of course.
(Apparently this is a 'type 80 Modulator Building' ~ thanks to Mark for this info!)

The GCI building still looks to be in use for something. This was classed as RAF Hope Cove (as the personnel were billeted there apparently). Sorry about the rain drops on the lens when taking this picture!
Jan 2007 update....Had a chance to go inside this building during the Autumn. It is VAST inside! No longer a Government building, it is used for a variety of purposes.

This building base at the entrance to the airfield is almost certainly the base of a 'Picket Post'. The buildings in the distance are farm buildings, with the GCI mast beyond.

41 Squadron Spitfire at Bolt Head Airfield
© Jerry Brewer