Introduction

In 1972 a proposal was presented by Bradford Property Trust to the Planning Department of the local council to develop a "New Village" of Martlesham Heath, with houses for 3000 people, with associated shops, schools and recreational facilities. This was accepted and has resulted in the development of the present community of Martlesham Heath. The vision of this development was to create a completely new community, but based on a traditional pattern. Hence, the village is centred on a village green, with a pub, church and village hall.

This section provides an insight into Martlesham Heath's History.

1917 - 1945

In 1917, the Experimental Aircraft Flight of the Central Flying School was transferred from Upavon, Wiltshire to a site on the heathland at Martlesham and, on 16 January, 1917, Martlesham Heath Airfield was officially opened, as an experimental airfield. The unit was renamed the "Aeroplane Experimental Unit, Royal Flying Corps". After the end of World War I the site continued to be used and was, once again, renamed as the Aeroplane and Armament Experimental Establishment (A&AEE) of the Royal Air Force.

At the outbreak of the Second World War, the A&AEE was removed to a site at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, owing to the proximity of Martlesham Heath to the East Coast and its vulnerability to enemy attack. The airfield then took on a new role as a base for fighter squadrons defending Britain. Wing Commander (later Group Captain) Douglas Bader, D.S.O., D.F.C. served at Martlesham Heath with 222 and 242 Squadrons, in 1940.

Wing Commander Douglas Bader, D.S.O., D.F.C.

Martlesham Heath Aviation Society have an excellent museum in the Control Tower. It's worth a visit and is open on Sunday afternoons from April to October inclusive. The website has a lot of interesting articles about the history and at the bottom of this LINK are some biographies of the USA personel that are well worth reading 

Above is an interesting map showing the layout of the airfiield overlaid onto the layout of the new village. You can see that the E-W runway passes right under the Douglas Bader pub. The facility at the bottom in the area of Mayfields and Heathfields is where the ammunition storage was located.

1945 - 1968

At the end of hostilities, there was no longer a role for Martlesham Heath as an operational RAF airfield and no prospect of the A&AEE returning, but the site was again used for a number of experiments with planes and armaments. However, its use declined in the 1950s, and the airfield was closed in the early 1960s.

Various proposals were put forward for the development of the site, including the proposal that it should become a civil airport. Parts of the old airfield were let out to light industry and storage companies. In 1963 the lease of the site was sold by the Air Ministry to Bradford Property Trust Ltd, for a price of £72,500.

Adastral Park

In 1968, the Post Office purchased part of the airfield and surrounding farmland and announced that they would be relocating their Research Department from Dollis Hill to a new centre to be built at Martlesham Heath. The building work took place in the early 1970s and this site has remained as the central research and development facility through the changes that have taken place with the separation of British Telecom from the Post Office and the privatisation of British Telecommunications. In the 1980s, the facility was renamed as BT Labs and was subsequently developed into a high tech business park called Adastral Park in the 1990s.

The modern village

In 1972 a proposal was presented by Bradford Property Trust to the Planning Department of the local council to develop a "New Village" of Martlesham Heath, with houses for 3000 people, with associated shops, schools and recreational facilities. This was accepted and has resulted in the development of the present community of Martlesham Heath.

The vision of this development was to create a completely new community, but based on a traditional pattern. Hence, the village is centred on a village green, with a pub, church and village hall.

This shot show Martlesham Heath village in its early days (photos courtesy of Cliff Hoppitt).

1982 looking north west (the A12 then Coopers Rd are in the foreground, and the village green is in the middle distance)

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