Aviation – The moving story of the most historic de Havilland building

In one of life's little ironies the building that has the most historic connections with de Havillands isn't in Hatfield – but it was once upon a time. As far as buildings go this one is something of a gypsy.


The building at the heart of this story is a large wooden hut with windows and doors (similar to the St John's Ambulance hut on St Albans Road East, next to St Luke's Church, but painted green), which served as the de Havilland General Office building at the company's first home at Stag Lane.

When de Havillands relocated their head office to Hatfield in the Thirties they brought this wooden building with them. It later housed the company museum.

Following the closure of the airfield site the hut was dismantled and moved to Farnborough in 2003 (rather appropriately as Sir Geoffrey de Havilland sold his first successful aircraft – No.2 – to the HM Army Balloon Factory that was based there for £400. As part of the deal they also employed him as an aircraft designer and test pilot. At his request they also employed his friend, assistant and future de Havilland Aircraft Company director, Frank Hearle). The office was refurbished at Farnborough and put into storage before later being reassembled at Duxford (just south of Cambridge), where the Imperial War Museum has its main aviation exhibition. However, it remains in de Havilland service – currently as a storage unit for DH Support Limited (DHSL).

de Havilland Support Limited (DHSL)

DHSL is a company jointly set up in September 2000 by the de Havilland Moth Club and the DHC-1 Chipmunk Club to help provide technical support for historic civilian de Havilland aircraft. On 23 October 2000, at Hatfield, an agreement was signed between the new company and BAE Systems (the inheritors of de Havilland) which formalised their role in helping keep classic de Havilland aircraft (excluding military types) still flying, and enabled the transfer of technical documents and manuals. DHSL is based at Duxford Airfield.

Stag Lane, Hatfield, Farnborough, and now Duxford – four of the greatest places in British aviation history. Not bad going – for a hut.


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