I was raised in the small village of Hawkinge, which had three churches, a pub and a WW2 airfield. There were also several friendly village shops and two garages. The shops included two grocery stores, one with the Post office, a newsagent / confectioner / tobacconist, the Co-op, a fish and chip shop, a hardware shop, two butchers, a chemist. a green grocer and a cobbler. It was never a pretty English village but small enough that everyone knew almost everyone else.
The airfield was one of the most important RAF Spitfire bases during WW2, being the closest one to the French coast. After the war it became an RAF glider training school and we spent many hours watching the gliders and playing around the edge of the field. It was also a training school for the Women’s Royal Air force until it closed down for good in 1961.
The Kent Battle of Britain Museum, is not only a memorial to the brave men who fought and died for this country in the skies above the village but also celebrates how proud Hawkinge is of its RAF connection. Long may it prosper!
Today the village has grown beyond recognition! The airfield is now a huge housing estate with a supermarket, another pub and another primary school and many acres of arable land around the village have also been built on. There is only one church and the garage doesn’t sell petrol. There is still a fish & chip shop along with a Chinese take-away and the original chemist. No hardware shop, no cobbler or shoe shop, no butcher or baker. There’s a hair salon instead of the barber who cut your hair – ‘short back & sides sir?’ - in his converted front room. There’s a large chain mini-market and a horse tackle shop.
I know change is inevitable but sometimes it’s just too much! So I am very happy to have moved nearly forty years ago to a very peaceful rural spot.