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HMP FORD

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A prison built on the site of a former military airfield, which saw use in both World Wars. HMP Ford is one of the nine open prisons in England and like the majority of these it is a conversion of a former military site. A camp for the Royal Flying Corps opened here in 1918 and was decommissioned in 1920. In 1930 D W Aviation renovated two hangars in which biplanes were to be manufactured and in 1931 Ford Motor Company took a lease of the airfield to manufacture aircraft. By 1932 they had been superseded by Rollason Aviation and they were in turn replaced by Sir Alan Cobham's Flying Circus. In 1936 the Air Ministry spent 109,000 pounds on a new hutted camp and RAF Ford opened on 1st December 1937. On 24th May 1939 it passed to the Admiralty, transferred back to the RAF during the war and returned to the Admiralty on 31st July 1945. During the Battle of Britain it was used by 23 Squadeon of the heavily engaged 11 Group Royal Air Force. In 1948 it closed for refurbishment and reopened as RNAS Ford in March 1950. In 1957/8 the present A Wing buildings were built as Petty Officer's Quarters. The site was paid off on 13th November 1958 and by February 1959 the Prison Commission was discussing taking over the camp. It was acquired in 1960 and opened as an Open Prison in 1961. Most of the buildings on the site today are adaptations of pre-1960 structures. There are six residential blocks, each bearing the name of a famous ship, linked by glazed corridors. There are also workshops which also appear to date from before 1960. The chapel opened on 22nd November 1989. Another modern building is a combined visits, reception and gatehouse complex.

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