Timeline: Hullavington 1066–2018

We trace the history of Dyson’s newest space past the airfield’s origins in the lead up to WW2 — right back to 1066 and the last time the British Isles were successfully invaded.


Hullavington estate belongs to Harold Godwinson, who is defeated by the Norman, William the Conqueror at the Battle of Hastings. This was the last time the British Isles were successfully invaded.


Hullavington, at that time known as ‘Hunlavingtone’, has a population of 200. The Hullavington estate passes to Ralph de Mortimer, one of King William’s courtiers. He donates the local church to the Benedictine Abbey of St. Victor in Caux, Rouen.


After just 100 years Hullavington, has once again changed its name and is known as ‘Hundlavinton’. The abbot of St. Victor builds a new water mill on Gauze brook which has tributaries running along the current borders of Hullavington airfield.


Hullavington manor has two water mills primarily used to support animal husbandry including grazing 200 sheep and 24 oxen.


By this time, both of the water mills are in a “feeble” condition and there is no further record of them, suggesting they were destroyed. The population is estimated to be 250 people.


Boundary markers are planted on each of the north-south edges of the parish which run parallel to the village’s main thoroughfare which is known simply as ‘The Street’. They are visible until 1989.


Ownership of Hullavington manor passes from the abbot of St. Victor to King Henry VI. He in turn gives Eton College the exclusive use of Hullavington manor which they held until 1958.


The local court orders all males between the ages of seven and 60 to practise archery on Sundays.


Hullavington is at this time known as ‘Hullonton’.


An odd collection flowers referred to as “strange plantain” are discovered in the Old Rectory Garden.


Hullavington is at this time known as ‘Hull Lavington’


A local man named Ayliffe Green leaves an endowment of £1-a-year to help look after the “poor children of Hullavington”.


A travelling menagerie of exotic animals arrives in neighbouring Malmesbury. A servant girl at the White Lion Inn, Hannah Twynnoy, is working at the tavern and goes to see the exhibition which, according to an account from the time, included a “very fierce tiger which she imprudently took pleasure in teasing, not-withstanding the repeated remonstrance of its keeper.” The enraged tiger escaped its cage and, as the plaque that commemorates the incident states: “sprang towards the unhappy girl, caught hold of her gown and tore her to pieces.” She was the first person in the to be killed by a tiger in the UK.


Although the town church has been called St. Mary Magdalene’s since 1408, it is at this time dedicated to St. Mary the Virgin.


The population of Hullavington parish reaches 395 people.


The Star Inn and the Queen’s Head pubs are first mentioned. The Queen’s head didn’t close until 1998 and the Star Inn still trades, but as the Hullavington Arms.


A day school is opened in the town for six boys and six girls. A year later another school opens, this time for 20 boys and 19 girls, built on the east side of The Street.


A workhouse, which has been in operation in Malmesbury since 1781, has 46 inmates in 1803. An economic downturn following the Napoleonic Wars is made worse by new agricultural technologies meaning that fewer people are employed on farms — Hullavington’s primary source of employment. By 1825 a new parish poorhouse is constructed to cope with overpopulation. By 1832 national poor relief spending reached £7 million per year, prompting the government to launch a Royal Commission investigation into solving rising poverty levels. A centralised Poor Law Commission was established, known as the “New Poor Law” which merged parishes into Poor Law Unions. In 1935 Hullavington joins Malmesbury’s poor-law union.

1840 — At this time Hullavington parish is half arable and half grassland, and is worked by 10 farms.


Major works were required at the St. Mary the Virgin church which hadn’t undergone major works since 1604. In 1861 there was a major redesign of the church. The recently elected president of the Architectural Association and later vice-president of RIBA, Sir Arthur William Blomfield is commissioned for the job. He later designed the Royal College of Music’s red-brick building in South Kensington, London.


There are a total of 543 people living in the village. The most common name in the town is Greenman, followed by Gough, Wicks, and Broom.


At this time the average attendance at the village’s school reaches 114 boys and girls.


In 1897 the first sod was cut for the London to South Wales railway line. By 1903 there was a train station, weighbridge and siding in the village. An influx of nearly 300 railway workers increased Hullavington’s population which later declined once the railways were built. By 1961, the railway station was closed to passengers. By 1965 the station was closed permanently, however, the rest of the line still operates today taking services from London Paddington to south Wales.

1921 — After World War One, Hullavington’s population reaches its 20th century low of just 478 people.


In 1923 the R.A.F. could field only 371 first-line aircraft. By 1934 this number leapt to 800 with 42 squadrons. By the outbreak of WW2 they had 3,700 aircraft and 157 squadrons. In order to house, land, and take off this huge number of aircraft, the R.A.F. and British government were forced to create new airfields all over the country. One such site, opened in Hullavington, Wiltshire, in 1937. The newly created R.A.F. Hullavington airfield welcomed the №9 Flying Training School as its first inhabitant who relocated there from R.A.F. Thornby, North Yorkshire. Unlike many other airfields of the day, which were designed and built with the greatest haste, R.A.F. Hullavington was constructed using attractive Bath stone so as to blend in with the rural surroundings.


A telephone exchange is built in Hullavington.


On 14th August, a German air attack targets Hullavington airfield, killing seven and seriously injuring six airmen. One of the aircraft hangars is also damaged.


The №2 Flying Training School’s leaves Hullavington. The first American servicemen arrive for training in January. On 31 July the Advanced Flying Unit moves in.


New houses are built at the north end of Hullavington village joining Newtown to the main part of the village.


Michael Radford’s motion picture version of George Orwell’s novel Nineteen Eighty-Four brings production to RAF Hullavington. Filming for the infamous ‘Two Minutes Hate‘ scene takes place in a hangar and over 200 local people appear as extras. The scene depicts a dystopian ceremony involving people venting their hatred towards the enemies of their totalitarian leader, Big Brother. In the words of the main character in the novel, Winston Smith: “The horrible thing about the Two Minutes Hate was not that one was obliged to act a part, but, on the contrary, that it was impossible to avoid joining in. Within thirty seconds any pretence was always unnecessary. A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge-hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic.”


R.A.F. Hullavington formally closes and the site is taken over by the British Army’s 9th Regiment Royal Logistic Corps. Their barracks, located on the eastern side of the former airfield, are renamed in 2003 to commemorate the Victoria Cross winner, Major John Buckley.


Two Volunteer Gliding Squadron (VGS) schools; 621 VGS and 625 VGS, move to the airfield and flying resumes at the site. They fly using a Viking and a modified civilian Grob 103.


A census records that the village’s population is 1,247 people, more than twice the number recorded during the 1950s.


The two gliding schools based at Hullavington merge and become 621 VGS.


The combined land that the MoD owns equates to roughly 1.8 percent of the UK. Following cuts to the Defence budgets, the MoD publishes it’s A Better Defence Estate report which found that over 50 percent of all their built assets were over 50 years old. The report lists Hullavington airfield as one of 91 national sites being “repurposed”. The airfield is formally closed and the gliding school moves to R.A.F. Little Rissington.


In March, Dyson purchases the 517-acre airfield in Hullavington. In September, Sir James Dyson announces that Dyson has been secretly developing an electric car which will be launched in 2020–21.


By March, Dyson completes the purchase of further nearby land increasing the size of the new Hullavington site to 750 acres. Restoring the airfield’s buildings begins in May 2017 with Hangar 86. Work on Hangar 85 begins exactly a year later. On 22nd June 2018 Hangar 86 is completed and the team working on the Dyson electric vehicle officially move into their new home.

This article was originally published in Dyson on: magazine. To read more visit on.dyson.co.uk