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HMP STANDFORD HILL

ALTERNATIVE NAME:  RAF EASTCHURCH, RNAS EASTCHURCH, HMS PEMBROKE II
DESCRIPTION + /

A former airfield with civil and military phases, now a prison. The site of HMP Standford Hill prison was the first home of British aviation. Stonepits Farm was leased in 1909 to the Aero Club, which in 1910 became the Royal Aero Club. In 1911 the first Royal Navy Air Service (RNAS) station was established there, with aircraft hangars built in 1912 still extant (see TQ 96 NE 44). The airfield (known as HMS Pembroke II) was used by the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) during World War I and after 1918 became an air-gunnery school. During World War II as RAF Eastchurch, it served as a fighter station during the Battle of Britain, then as a RAF intelligence and debriefing centre. In 1948 it passed to the army and on 25th December 1949 was acquired by the Prison Commissioners who adapted it as an open prison which opened in 1950 as HMP Eastchurch. A young prisoners' centre was open between 1954 and 1963 and an older prisoners' unit operated from 1956 to 1957. The prison also held preventive detainees until 1966-7. In 1975 the prison's name changed to HMP Standford Hill. A semi-secure Category C unit was demolished in 1986 following two severe fires. HMP Swaleside and HMP Elmley were constructed on part of Standford Hill's estate. Until the 1980s, accommodation was in military huts dating from 1923-45. After 1986 two new cell blocks were opened and the military huts demolished. Early military buildings still remain and have been adapted for prison use. A new kitchen was due to be completed in spring 1997.

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