Astra Close, RM12

Place Name

Military heritage. A reference to the Royal Air Force motto, Per Ardua ad Astra which means Through Adversity to the Stars in relation to Hornchurch Airfield which was very close by. The airfield was originally known as Sutton’s Farm during the First World War, when it occupied 90 acres and used for the protection of London. It was closed temporarily a few years after the war in 1923 but reopened when the RAF expanded five years later. It closed permanently in 1962. It was from here that the first ever recorded interception of an enemy aircraft over Britain was made by Lieutenant John Slessor on the day he arrived at Sutton’s Farm, October 13, 1915. The attack had to be aborted however, when the airship disappeared into cloud. During the Second World War the station was a Sector Airfield of RAF Fighter Command’s 11 Group, covering London and the south east of England during the Battle of Britain in 1940. The names of the streets of the estate commemorate the airfield and its pilots (such as Bouchier Walk, Kirton Close, Tempest Way, Robinson Close, Tuck Road, Bader Way and Malan Square). The former Officers’ Mess is now a medical centre in Astra Close. The Officers’ Mess (Astra House), Officers’ Quarters (Astra Court East, West & North) and WO Quarters (89–99 (odd numbers) Wood Lane) are included in the RAF Hornchurch Conservation Area.

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